Creating a better life for yourself – what a momentous yet simple task!
It it momentous because it is so large, a whole life, and changing it all for the better can take many years, some deep thought and very hard work. And then it is simple, because every little helps. Go for a ten minute walk every day, get one good hygiene habit, reach out to just one person – the smallest thing can make your life better.
Throughout this blog journey, my focus has been on thinking about, writing about, and trying out different ways in which I could make my life better, healthier and happier. I read books, blogs and articles, I watch videos and documentaries, I listen to audiobooks and podcasts, all with the purpose of bettering my life and how I feel about myself.
I figured, if I’m going to be on sick leave, with no job and no studies, I wanted to dedicate my time to truly delving into the task of getting better! And so that is what I do every day, I try out new ideas and methods, and I think and write about it.
Right here I wanted to present my overview of how to get a better life. The reason why this is a page of its own and not a post is that I wanted a holistic aspect of the blog, a place to present a summation of my findings, which I could update throughout my journey and keep fluid and changeable.
So without further ado – here is my guide to what I have discovered!
A good starting point for me is always some new intentions. You can set an intention about anything, your diet, your sleep, your relationships, your behaviour, anything! Just find an aspect of your life which you think you can make better, decide how to go about doing that, and then set an intention to do so. You can follow my example of setting intentions and goals based on the WikiHow page for How To Deal With Depression. Further, you can read about how those intentions have developed, grown and changed here.
Consider your lifestyle
I find that considering your lifestyle is one of the easiest and most flexible ways in which you can improve your life. It can be such simple things! I started out with deciding to brush my teeth every morning and evening, and it made a really big difference to how I felt. It gave clear start and end points to my days, it was a small accomplishment twice a day and best of all – it’s a pretty easy thing to stick to. Start small!
Things to think about when you want to improve your lifestyle are: Your sleep, exercise, diet, personal hygiene, mindfulness and un-plugging from all the social media and technology around us. I’ll be writing individual posts on all these subjects, so watch this space! For now I’ll just say that the trick here is often to start with changes that are manageable, like my goal to brush my teeth morning and evening. Don’t start practicing for a marathon, begin with a ten minute walk and build it up.
Practice self-care and self-love
This is something that I know is so important, and something that I struggle with myself. However, I try my best, and you should too; self-compassion is vital to recovery. For many, myself included, it is one of the most difficult things to deal with, but the rewards if you are able to practice self-care and self-love are enormous and very much worthwhile.
Embrace the imperfection of your recovery and your journey. I set intentions for my lifestyle all the time, I plan wonderful, healing days, I set alarms and I set goals and I download apps and I purchase books – but then the day comes round and I oversleep, wake up on the wrong side of the bed, skip my meditation and my yoga, spend all morning and afternoon on social media and Netflix, eat crap, drink too much coffee, completely abandon my plans, and that’s okay. No one lives a perfect lifestyle, it’s impossible. Some days will be better than others, just remember that recovery is not straightforward or linear and there will be set-backs. This is completely normal! Examples of how I’ve reacted to bad days are here and here.
Look out for your people
In my case, people saved me. Doctors saved me, nurses saved me, my colleagues saved me, my friends saved me, and most of all, my family saved me. If you are suffering from mental illness, I would advice spending time around the people in your life that are supportive of you. You might not have that many, you might have a little too many, you might be close with them, you might just be friendly with each other, you might live near each other or in different countries – it doesn’t matter. Just spend some time contemplating which people you have in your life that are supportive, and then reach out to them, call them, write to them, go see them, initiate contact and let them in on your problems. You can always go see a doctor if you are suffering from mental illness.
Read, read, read
You never know what is going to get your thoughts spinning and your motivation going, but I find that nearly every book I’ve read about mental health has given me ideas and inspirations for ways in which I could improve my life. I often listen to audiobooks while going for walks, and I always come back from that with new thoughts about how to cope with my depression, anxiety and traumas. Go browse a bookshop, order online, download an audiobook app – whatever works for you, just get your hands on a book! You can check out my book reviews here.
Think, write, talk, sing, draw, imagine, anything to get your mind going on what you really think about life, about yourself, about mental health, about others, about your past and your future. That’s how this blog started for me, I just wanted to gather my thoughts about what felt like such a mess: my life. So get your thinking hat on and jot down your thoughts and ideas about this great, big world. Try to challenge yourself to be a little more positive than what feels natural, you’d be surprised what a few hopeful lines could do for you. You can read about my own musings here.
I just wanted to say that if you’re in a really bad place, if you’re feeling hopeless, if you feel like all is lost and you cannot bear it anymore: it can get better. I have been there, at the edge of life, and I thought there really was no way back. But I was told, as I am telling you now, that things can improve, you’re not a lost cause, there is hope for you and most importantly, you’re not alone. There are so many people suffering the same feelings which are overwhelming you right now. Reach out, go to a doctor, to a loved one, to a stranger. You just find your person and you reach out and you get the help you deserve. Because you are worth it, you are worth a better life.