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mindfulness Archives | A Box of Happiness

May = Mental Health Awareness

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Our mental health is the foundation on which the rest of our mind, body and soul functions. If you’re struggling with mental health the rest of you is surely going to suffer alongside it. Which is why our mental health is one of the most important things to look after. Its also the hardest thing to talk about for some reason, we feel ashamed if we suffer in this way. But the reality is that its something so many people have to battle with on a daily basis. 

From mild anxieties to depression and beyond. Neglecting to take care of these issues and seeking help when needed means they can spiral out of control very quickly.

Talking about it is a fundamental necessity. To get it into the open, to know that it is not shameful. To help each other and to remove the shroud of guilt surrounding mental health in this country. The last few weeks I have seen a small number of people telling their stories, encouraging others to do the same and that needs to continue. We need to stop the depression shaming that goes on, telling people to pull themselves together and get on with it is not helpful. Would you do that to somebody who was suffering with an injury? No, you would comfort and care for them until they are back to full health and that’s what needs to go on with mental health problems. But I also believe you need somebody who enables you to carry on functioning rather than sinking further in to that black hole that wants to consume you.

I don’t have a personal story to tell but I see what can happen in people that I love and care for, as somebody who hasn’t been in that position it is so difficult to understand what is going on in that persons head. So, it takes a gentle hand, a caring smile and a listening ear. To not push, just wait, just be there when they feel ready to speak and listen with no judgement.

I believe I am lucky to know when I am overwhelmed, when things are getting too much and I have learned to take time for myself in various ways. To know when to take a step back from the world and retreat in to my cocoon, my safe place. This weekend for example. In social situations I am a social person, but I enjoy my quiet sanctuary of home too. This weekend we had family to stay and spent a few days super busy, walking to the beach, running around and playing in that fresh sea air. There was no quiet sanctuary for me. By Monday evening, I felt the strain, the mental and physical exhaustion. Some people love to be surrounded by others, its how they function but for me I need to wind down in quiet solitude. So once the kids had crashed in their beds also exhausted, I ran myself a hot bubbly bath, grabbed my crystals and incense and had an hour floating in the tub. I felt the strain melting away, my breath easing to normal, the overwhelm shrinking back.

Life can be extremely stressful, especially when unexpected and uncontrollable events happen. It is human nature to want to be in control but that is not realistic. We all need to learn those coping mechanisms for when these things happen. Some people go in to action mode, trying to fix the problem, seeking solutions. While others may bury their heads in the sand. The important thing is learning your own coping mechanisms and what works for you. For me, I take a little time out, to clear my head and with that clear head allow a solution to form or realise that the situation isn’t as bad as it seems. And the way I do that varies, but it almost always involves being alone. Only then can I develop that self awareness needed. A little self care, a walk by the sea to allow the crashing waves to put my otherwise overactive mind in to a meditative state, a bubble bath with essential oils, a good book to take me to another world.

Meditation and mindfulness are wonderful ways to take care of that need to be calm when life gets a little crazy. Which is why May’s Box of Happiness is a mindfulness and meditation box. To help others learn more about and begin to practise these techniques that they may have otherwise never considered.

I would love to hear from others. How do you take care of your mental health? What do you think needs to be done to improve mental health awareness?

 

The Lost Art of the Duvet Day

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I used to prescribe my teenage self regular duvet days, once a month.
A day to stay in bed, read books, eat ice cream and chocolate and just be me.
With no pressure from the outside world to do anything else.
No homework, no housework, nothing else other than what pleased me.

Then life began to get in the way, all the responsibilities that adulthood brings; the work stress, the children, whether I’ve paid the bills, is there food in the house? The mum guilt of whether I have cuddled my babies enough that day, do they feel loved, are they happy?
The multitude of items on my to-do list increasing day by day. There appears to be no time for those duvet days that made me feel so refreshed and relaxed.

Now, after many years out of practise I have lost the art of the duvet day. I cannot sit still. I can possibly manage a duvet hour but even then there are ten thousand things running through my brain that I just MUST get done. I put the kids to bed and then do the housework, or study, or check my work emails, or make a few orders. I actually find it impossible to sit and watch a film from start to finish.

So, I ask you, how do we as busy adults learn to switch back off again?

That is something I plan to rediscover and I hope you will come along with me for the journey. Follow my journey on Instagram @aboxof_happiness

We all have self-care thrown in our faces every where we look these days but it really is so important to take that time for yourself to recharge. Are you putting the most stress on yourself? Does the kitchen sink being empty of dishes really make a difference to your life? Probably not.

Today I prescribe a duvet day. Or tomorrow, or the next day but schedule it in. Work out a time when you can just be at home on your own, not doing the dishes, or scrubbing the floor. But just spending time with you before you burn out.

This morning, I had a meeting scheduled which was cancelled for the second time this week. At first I was a little put out that my entire days plans would alter (for a control freak this is hard to handle!), but then I figured this was a serendipitous moment that would allow me to start the day with a whole new slate. I could make a dent in that giant to do list, but instead I made a big pot of coffee and sat in my giant bay window which was awash with sunshine. The only sounds were the seagulls soaring high above the sea. That quiet, a mug of coffee that I would get to finish before it got cold (I lie, it did get cold, mainly because it was a mug made for giants!), the vase of roses on the windowsill. I felt a huge sense of gratitude, that life, although imperfect was pretty perfect in that moment. And this is the switching off that I need, that thing they called mindfulness. We all need to slow down and appreciate these little things instead of always striving for perfection.

So, take that duvet day, take a moment for mindfulness and be grateful for everything that IS perfect right now, in this moment. Stop rushing from task to task on that list, it will still be there in a few hours and you will have the calmed mind that will be able to tackle each thing just a little more effectively.

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