We’re seeing a high increase in depression and anxiety from all over the Country.
This breaks my heart.
Personally, lockdown’s had the complete opposite effect for my mental health.
For the first time in over twenty-three years, I feel a sense of belonging. And purpose.
Now, I can look in the mirror, admiring the reflection smiling back at me.
No longer do I look for bags of weed, or bottles of gin to escape.
I face my demons head on.
I pick up a pen.
Take a deep breath, reach within, and ask myself why…
Remarkably, why do I not feel alone?
As a single woman who’d recently graduated University and come back home, hopelessly trying to find a career in Cornwall. Life itself hasn’t been one you’d look at and think, “it’s understandable how you’ve recovered.”
Being away from my friends, and living back at home with a mum who’s depressed, was already a very lonely, and challenging time for me.
At the end of February, and after six months of rejection letters, finally I was offered a job which closely aligned with my values.
All that hard work had paid off…
Covid crashed down on us; my new job got taken away from me, I was hit with some shocking news. And to top it all off my nan’s dementia spiralled out of control.
Without realising it at the time, lockdown was the perfect opportunity to put the things I learnt, through self-help books, into action.
When I did, I began watching myself grow.
The four basic human psychological needs.
A couple of years ago, when I first began self-education around the topic of mental health, I discovered Johann Hari.
Hari has uncovered a lifetime of research on mental health, and wrote it all in his book, ‘lost connections.’
In order for us to be mentally well, Johann recognised all four psychological needs, needed to be met if you stood a chance. With research that’s backed up his theory.
The 4 basic psychological needs:
Simply ask yourself, with a pen and paper now, these four simple questions:
- Do you feel like you belong right now? And if not, why not?
- Do you feel like you have intimacy/ love and a connection right now? And if not why not?
- Do you feel like you’re great at something? Your job, your training course you’ve started, your art, maybe just being there for others? And if not why not?
- Do you feel like you have a sense of freedom right now? Even in regards to what’s going on? And if not, why not?
The more of these, you answer no too, the more likely it is you’re suffering in some way.
Don’t be alarmed…
This is great news!
Clearly understanding, ‘why,’ makes it easier for you to find the ‘how’, and move forwards with a solution focused attitude.
Understanding the ‘why,’ of your habits.
As humans, it’s very easy for us to feel things, a ‘cue/ trigger,’ that allows us to react in a certain way.
‘The Friday feeling,’ urges us to go out, let our hair down, and spend all our weekly earnings.
‘The holiday blues,’ entices us into reminisce over our past photos, and wish we were somewhere else.
The surprising text from the person who’s been ghosting us, allows you to feel wanted; fall back into a spell, and get hurt all over again.
This is often where we’re going wrong.
We react to things in the same way we always have-
Even when certain factors change- the job- the environment- your crushes face.
Although the situation’s different, it often feels very similar.
That’s because everything you do is an unconscious routine, and your actions remain the same.
You may think you’re in control…
However, 40% of what you do are unconscious habits.
It’s the reason you get frustrated with yourself every week for waking up hungover; spending too much money, or texting an ex.
It’s why you often ask the question, ‘why is it always me?”
You consciously dislike your behaviour.
All the same you struggle to change it.
This can become very frustrating right?
In NLP we call this the ‘habit loop.’
‘The habit loop,’ refers to the same routine, and pattern, a person performs when they’re triggered by a familiar experience.
A trigger right now for most, would be waking up to a miserable day outside.
The routine that would likely follow, would be to have a lie- in. Maybe a movie day, ordering in a takeout or pampering yourself.
We each have routines for certain triggers- even if the action we’re committing to is good or bad, it doesn’t matter.
We recieve pleasure chemicals in our brain that tells us we’re happy, and it reinforces the routine.
But don’t worry…
If you were able to make a habit, you are able to change it!
Fighting the habit you want to change isn’t easy.
From experience it requires dedication, desperate desire and discipline.
Exercising has become the centre for recovery, and keeping good this year.
This year exercise has become ‘on-trend’ more than ever before.
What else is there to do with your days, other than exercise right?
Not only this but we know the added benefits of it…
And not just the looking sexy part!
‘Exercise makes you feel good!’
‘If you don’t exercise, you won’t feel good!’
Along the way this year, the relationship between exercise and mental health has gotten lost.
There are people who don’t want to exercise.
Simply being down to not aligning with their values.
Sadly for these people, they feel hopeless, as if they just have to ‘wait this pain out.’
My urge to exercise, juxtaposing with how much I actually was, played a role of frustration, and guilt, within myself.
The message was clear.
The message was;
“Exercise and your mental health will get better”.
Frustratingly, I wanted to exercise….
… I wanted to feel better…. Duh!
Regardless of how much I wanted to feel better, mentally, I found little energy to treat my body any better, physically.
Personally, exercising, (the tone up, the cardio, the home workouts) came after I felt good!
“I feel super good about myself, and I’m going to prove it by treating myself to cardio, and showing myself how well I can do!”
Before the exercise, before that feel good, I needed to get out of the suffocating mindset of, ‘what was; what could’ve been,’ whilst learning to accept my current situation, and view my life in the present tense of , ‘what is.’
This allowed me to create a new perspective.
I did this over a gradual period of time, desperately demanding to establish my four, basic, psychological needs at the present moment….
1. Establishing my sense of belonging
My sense of belonging was established quickly.
Selflessly, I was here to help my mum look after my severely ill Nan, whilst she continued to work.
Alongside this I was writing my blog, trying to reach out to those in need.
Receiving positive messages from explorers onto my page, gave me motivation to continue.
In a sudden moment, I knew I belonged here.
Barring being in the middle of a dance floor, or at the bottom of a baggie. I was here to find new, healthy, way of getting my euphorical hits.
And to learn how to love myself enough that I didn’t need to be around people 24/7 to feel good.
2. Establishing intimacy
Establishing where I felt a connection, and intimacy was my biggest challenge.
Sadly I didn’t get it from being at home. And almost being at home, in the environment I was in, made it harder.
I’d just like to quickly recommend you all to watch ‘The social Dilemma,’ on Netflix. Which touches deeply into the cause as to why our society struggles with connection.
Luckily for me, I had a puppy which has been my biggest blessing this year.
I was also able to establish strong connections and relationships with those who have supported me on my journey.
The kindness I have found this year, from individuals, has moved me incredibly far.
On top of this, my long distance relationships with friends have blossomed.
Facetimes, and zoom calls require actual face-to-face conversations.
Not just getting drunk and dancing into the morning light.
This has allowed me to get to know my friends on a more deeper, and personal level.
More importantly, the connection I developed with myself, by just giving less hate, and showing more linguistic, internal, love pushed me the furthest.
I became my number one fan!
Learning not to put myself down and compare myself to other people’s journeys, allowed me to take the break I needed, enabling me to consider my needs more seriously.
3. Establishing my mastery
What did I feel like I was really good at…
Bar being mentally unwell; smoking myself blind, and stuck in a rut of self-sabotage?
In my journal, I wrote down the question, ‘What do I know about myself that’s true?’
As it happens, I was great at reaching out to people.
I was great at caring, and considering others.
Even though I hadn’t been proud of what I’d been producing onto my blog.
Receiving feedback grew my confidence and assured me it was serving its purpose.
Just by taking imperfect action, I began to feel more confident in my own ability.
Discovering this infectious need to want to help people, opened the doors for me to begin a coaching course, and an NLP practitioner course- which, I am slowly mastering, each day.
Taking imperfect action was my blessing in disguise.
But why do we often tend to give up easily? Or not try at all?
Trying something new, or stepping out of our comfort zone is scary!
Often we don’t feel like we’re good enough.
We put ourselves down.
We stop ourselves from trying.
We are, our own worst enemies.
Remember when you were a child, beginning to walk?
You didn’t just stand up straight away and master it.
Or fall to the floor and decide you never wanted to try walking again.
You took imperfect action each day.
You got back up, after falling down.
Suddenly, one day, you were walking!
4. Establishing my freedom
In a time where we’re being banned from flying out of the country, or driving too far in our own County.
How was I to find my freedom?
Luckily I live in one of the most beautiful parts of the Country, Cornwall, and I just had to walk far away from civilization to find freedom.
My freedom was being able to walk on the coastline; sit on a beach for a long duration without feeling uncomfortable, or swarmed by holidaymakers.
Appreciating the beauty of where I lived was where I found my freedom.
Practicing gratitude by using a ‘grateful journal,’ every morning allowed me to change my perspective on situations, and acknowledge how lucky I really was.
Especially when comparing my situation to those living in Cities, or France.
What you can do right now to assert positive action?
Prior to worrying about a lack of exercise; your job, the fact it’s getting darker, colder, and leaves little for you to do.
Why not use this spare time to establish yourself as a person?
Sit down and write a list of all the things that make you happy!
Elicit all your values, dreams and goals onto a piece of paper!
No matter how big or small!
Open up your imagination; the potential you have to offer, and dig down deep to finding the kid who’d get back up to try again!
Struggling for inspiration?
Your list should be different to mine in some aspects.
Our experiences may be similar, but we’re not the same.
We breathe the same, but we do not see the same.
We find happiness, and satisfaction in our own ways!
To the one who are ready for more…
As a coach in training, and in these hard times- I am offering up some free 1:1 short programmes for those in need of an extra push!
If you’re fed up with feeling, ‘not ok’, anymore…
If you’re desperate to find purpose, grow confidence or gain self-belief in yourself, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org where we can book a discovery call, and see if I can assist you with breaking out of this rut!
You are not broken, you don’t need to be fixed.
The answers you need are all from within!