Wow! I feel like I haven’t blogged in years. Hey everyone! How’ve you been? I know it hasn’t been an easy year for any of us and most of us can’t wait for this year to end. I’ve been thinking of coming back to this blog for a while, but I was procrastinating, because life. So when I woke up this morning, after dropping my full, freshly brewed filter of coffee on my foot because my dog decided to jump on me (lovely start to the day), I decided to get back into bed and write write write!
Who would’ve thought that we’d be living through a pandemic? Well I guess several scientists and experts did try to warn us, but life in real time is always too complicated for most of us to think about the future, so this came as a shock shockity shock. Personally, it didn’t really resonate at first in terms of what it was going to mean and entail for the next few months of my life, but without a structured plan for my mental health, I doubt I would be writing this right now.
If you’ve been following me on any of my platforms, you’re probably aware that I’ve had my fair share of mental health challenges in life. I’ve gone in and out of depression and I’ve lived in constant anxiety for years and if you can relate to this, you’ve probably also tested and tried several things to help your situation. However, when the pandemic hit and life started to change, it was hard for me to control my anxiety and I had to take a step back and think of more ways to help myself. Now, I’m no robot that’s able to stick to a rigid plan on helping my anxiety, in fact I’m quite the opposite, I don’t do plans. So I’ve decided to list a couple things that have been working for me, hoping they can work for you too! Feel free to also share suggestions on how you’ve been helping your mental health, the more the merrier!
CHALLENGING MYSELF TO EXPLORE MY CREATIVITY
There is no such thing as too much creativity! The beauty about the creative part of the brain is that it has no bounds or limits and the more time we spend with it, the more we find out and the more we essentially create. Until the coronavirus pandemic hit, I hadn’t painted in two nearly two years, so the first thing I did was order new art equipment and set up a little art corner in my apartment! This is the first layer of a piece of been working on for seven weeks now, can’t wait to share the final version with you! Painting has really helped me to calm myself and bring out my subconscious and as a journalist, this really helps my research and writing. It has also given me an opportunity to express a lot of negative emotions that would otherwise come out in words or behaviour, which is toxic.
A DAILY WALK
Honestly, I cannot overestimate how much daily walks have been helping. It’s not just about getting out of the house, which I do every day inevitably to report the news, but daily walks have been destressing me as I tend to get really stressy when I stay in closed environments for long hours and it’s also given me an opportunity to spend time with myself. Make sure you’ve got your mask on and you physically distance of course, but a couple rounds around the block and a few minutes to reflect definitely does some good.
CHECKING IN ON LOVED ONES
Now this is an interesting one. Over the past few years, I’ve become really introverted. And when I say really introverted, I literally run away from phone calls and messages and I’ve had to start making a deliberate effort not to do so. Before the pandemic, checking in on close family was a weekly thing for me – a Sunday phone call with my dad or stopping by at my brothers house once in a while after work. However, I’ve made contact a daily thing. Firstly, the fragility of life is a reality that is occupying all of our minds right now. But, going through such strict lockdowns and not having access to loved ones like we used to has been a difficult reality to come to terms with. To cope with the anxiety of this, I’ve been making a deliberate effort to take time out for phone and video calls with family and friends on a daily basis…well maybe every two days. But it really keeps me balanced and keeps me feeling safe.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWS BREAKS
This hasn’t been easy for me to do, but I’ve been doing it. It may be hard to notice as I’m still on social media every day, but I’ve been making sure that every day I take a couple hours off. Especially with so much going on right now and so many triggers to my mental health, it was important for me to make a deliberate decision to give myself a daily break. This hasn’t been easy, also because as a journalist I have to keep up to date with current affairs, but I have had to accept how much the news can depress me and how important it is to keep away from it for a few hours a day if I want to be fit to report it. Speaking of which, I wrote to op-ed pieces recently for Genevieve Magazine and This Day that you should check out!
Coping with anxiety is a daily challenge, some days are better than others. Crazy how most of us today are living with anxiety, but I guess that’s why we need to speak to each other more and help each other out. The more focus we place on the little things when it comes to coping with mental health, the more of a positive an impact we should feel – what is it they say about dynamites? As for today, I’m going to take a long shower, braid down my hair and reread my aunty Lola’s book, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. Definitely have to reread it before the movie comes out, which I am so excited for!