According to Mind.org, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. I am one of those people and as a coping method, I always find it useful to have a mental health check-in with yourself; to see where you’re at and where you’ve come from.
So, I looked back on the past three years and realised these 12 lessons.
The Past Three Years
A little context on this post can’t hurt. Three years ago, this country bumpkin was packing up her bags and was preparing to move to London. I had lived in Lancaster for 18 years, after which I went to university in Leicester for three years.
Upon completing my studies, I moved back home for a year. Lancaster isn’t the home of many writing opportunities, so I worked as a kitchen assistant in a Greek restaurant.
At the beginning, I was saving money to go travelling. But over the summer, I learnt that my sister was moving to London for work and I decided I wanted to be with her in the capital and see if I could get a writing job.
Moving to London
The move was scary. At first, I spent a lot of my time feeling lost (literally and mentally) and wondering if London would ever feel like home and if I would ever make it as a ‘professional’ writer.
Much to my surprise, I did. After about a month of living in London, I landed my first writing job. It was an internship which was a lot of fun and I met some great people. This was the first turning point, where London didn’t feel so lonely and difficult.
Following that first writing job, I then went onto get two other writing gigs. Yes, people were paying me to write content for them. It felt great for sure, but there were a few bumps along the road (aren’t there always?)
I’ve spent three years in London now and I’ve learnt and experienced so much. I even started my own freelance writing business this year, it was kind of a blind leap of faith into this vast pit of the unknown, but it has been incredible for my self-growth.
Lessons Learnt in London
Due to family circumstances, home is calling and I’m in the process of moving back to Lancaster. This will be another chapter in my life and because of that and various other current affairs, I’ve been doing some soul searching.
I’ve always been very intact with my thoughts and feelings, so some of these lessons were already experienced, but perhaps they’ve been reinforced due to my time in London. These are the 12 lessons I learnt from my own mental health check-in:
1.) Be Content With Yourself
The first lesson I learnt from my mental health check-in was to be content with and accept yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks if you’re happy. You don’t need to do what you think others expect of you, it is just tiring and pointless.
For a long time, I was among the women who believed they couldn’t leave the house without make-up on. I’ve never been much of a crazy make-up lady, but I used to feel bare without it.
One of the small changes I made this year was accepting myself, I happily go out of the house not wearing make-up now. This is me and this is my skin; sometimes I have spots, sometimes my eyes look very tiresome, but along the journey for self-love and the pursuit of happiness (if that’s a thing) we need to accept ourselves and be comfortable in our own skin.
2.) Control the Things You Can and Let Go of the Things You Can’t
If someone continues to make the same mistake, then it isn’t a mistake. It’s a choice and that choice verifies how they really feel. You can’t control this so let it go.
My track record with relationships is a little dire, and I am adding another break-up to that list. But for once, I rationalised and maturely dealt with it all. (Yes, I am adulting. No, adulting doesn’t feel that great.)
You can’t control how people treat you or how they see you, but you can control how you deal with it and how you feel about it.
3.) Life Goes On
Speaking of failed relationships, break-ups and heartbreaks don’t need to be felt so deeply and wound you for so long. Life goes on!
At some point, everyone can hold themselves accountable for standing in their own light and casting their own shadows and darkness. I for one, certainly can.
I wish that I had really thought about this life lesson after the first heartbreak. (But if I had then maybe I wouldn’t have become a writer!) Whatever happens, life goes on and you can deal with it.
4.) Look After Yourself
Looking after yourself is vital. This one is self-explanatory. If you want the best for yourself and those around you, then you need to look after yourself.
Self-care is crucial and setting up basic foundations of self-care is a must in your day-to-day life. You can’t instantly love yourself, but you can take small daily steps that’ll help you reach that goal. (You know eating healthy, getting plenty of exercise and taking time to do things you enjoy.)
5.) Never Give Up
A significant lesson I learnt from my mental health check-in was that failing doesn’t signify the end result; you need to keep trying. Life is a process, as are all the ways in which you’re trying to look after yourself and your loved ones.
Okay, this one sounds like it contradicts no.2 (but philosophy always does that, anyway right?) It also is a follow-up and a safety net for no.4, when things do go wrong.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with several big life-changing events, so I sought out so old vices. The irony is that my last post (The Power of Self Control) talks about how I was trying to deal with these and then I failed.
But weirdly enough, this isn’t the end – I’m going to keep on trying. And you should too. Never give up.
6.) Adapting Is in Your Nature
Life is filled with continuous shit, but you’ll be okay(ish). Why? Because adapting is in your nature.
I should’ve mentioned in the context section, that I’m not necessarily the most optimistic person, more of a realist. But yeah, things happen – sometimes really shit things (and sometimes good things too).
Life is messy and unpredictable. Yet somehow you learn to deal and adapt to situations and circumstances. Whatever is going on right now in your life, you will learn how to deal with it.
7.) Things Aren’t Equal
Most people don’t give the same level of care and commitment that you do. Things aren’t equal and sometimes they aren’t even fair.
But if the care and commitment you provide makes you happy then that’s okay. Whereas, if it’s draining you, maybe it’s time to walk away.
8.) Nothing Is Forever
I don’t think I’ll ever have a feeling of ‘home’ again. Despite living in London for three years, it never really felt like home and when I go back to visit Lancaster, that also doesn’t necessarily feel like home anymore either.
The situations and places we find ourselves in can be friendly enough and can have enough beauty within them to ensure comfort. If you’re willing to find them.
Mental health check-in lesson 101: if you ever feel lost or like you’re struggling in a certain place (mentally or physically), it’s good to remember nothing is forever. But you should also remember to live in the here and now, and to find beauty and comfort in the places where you are.
9.) Acknowledge Your Achievements
Acknowledging your achievements and identifying your own measures of life is important. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back for achieving something (even if other’s have already done it before you).
Although I still don’t think I’m an amazing writer, I’ve proved to myself that I could move to the capital and get not just one, but three writing jobs. This industry is competitive, and jobs are lacking, so I am proud that I made it.
I’m also proud that I started my own freelance writing business. Personally, love, family, and good times will always be more important than working and my career – by my own measures of life.
I believe I only need enough money to get by and so long as I get to enrich my life with travel, great company and nature, then I’ll be content. Your measures of success and happiness might be different from mine (and from the traditional measures of success) and that’s okay, but it’s crucial that you identify them.
10.) Social Media Is Toxic.
Admittedly I shouldn’t admit this, because well, in part it is my job, so I’ll instead state that aspects of social media are toxic. It creates a society of people who are obsessed with themselves.
I deleted my personal social media accounts last week. “Bye Facebook. Cya Snapchat. Good riddance Instagram.” I kept my LinkedIn and Twitter for work, but that’s it. And I feel way better for it.
Constantly being connected was draining me. You don’t need to go all out and delete your accounts, but you might benefit from spending more time away from your screen.
11.) You Can Do It
This might have been a lesson I saw first-hand from a subjective stance when my niece was using the phrase “I can’t”. There will always be the voice in your head that says that you can’t, we are instilled with this feeling, but you’re stronger than you know, and most things are achievable.
You might need to change your perspective – after all, life is what YOU make it, not what others tell you it should be. Next time you think you can’t do something, don’t give up. Instead, try it again and if that doesn’t work, try changing the way you go about it.
12.) Follow Your Own Morals
Follow your own morals and form your own thoughts. During these past three years, a lot has happened in the world around us.
I find it hard to follow politics and the news and always feel like it is a way in which people try to control society. They use scaremongering and manipulative behaviours and techniques to make us think and feel a certain way.
However, following your own morals and forming your own thoughts ensures that you aren’t manipulated. Remember you don’t always need to think or act a certain way, you have a choice.
Schedule Regular Mental Health Check-Ins With Yourself
Maybe this is all just a load of waffle. But my mental health check-in helped me to look back on these important lessons and focus on moving forward.
Are you currently struggling with your mental health? Then make sure you schedule regular check-ins. If nothing else they’ll help you clear some headspace and work out your next move.
Essentially, the important takeaway is: “you do you” and don’t let anyone shit on your sparkle.