When life gives you lemons….
It’s been just over a year since my life started unravelling from it’s solid, steady, status quo state.
One minute I was celebrating milestone after milestone of a dream life – healthy, happy, just moved into the house of my dreams that took us 18 months to build and design from scratch, I turned 30, I had a new job I enjoyed with great people, and I got engaged.
Fast forward to now and things are very different…
What eventuated over the last 12 months+ took a toll on me in every way possible – mentally, spiritually, physically and beyond. I simultaneously lost myself, unravelled my life, and tried to pick up the pieces and put myself back together – shying away from social media and pretty much life in general while I battled some seriously unrelenting major life events that just seemed to keep on coming one after another including deaths, illness, health scares, and in many ways, the toughest of them all, ending my 9 1/2 year relationship.
If I’m honest, I’m still picking up the pieces and rebuilding. The ‘yuck’ isn’t over yet, nor are the lessons. But despite my absence online, I’ve still had many people ask me about my personal health journey from a blog post I did years ago. So, while I’ll write a separate blog post update about that later. I wanted to share the top 10 things I’ve learned that are incredibly important when life simply serves up one relentless shit storm of challenges after challenges.
#1 It’s ok to take mental health days – sick days don’t have to be snotty nosed. Sometimes escaping to work can be helpful, but if you’re distracting yourself from the process of healing and stuck in groundhog day, take the day or afternoon off, go to the beach or somewhere nice and experience life for what it is. Solo. Until you’re ready for a dear friend to come and sit with you quietly.
#2 Confide only in those who deserve to hear your story – One of my favourite researchers, Brene Brown says “our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky.” Find the people that this quote reminded you of and only share your story with them. Don’t let the nosy, the judgey or anyone else know your story unless you want them to – it’s yours to tell and it should be treated with respect.
#3 Seek both family and professional support – If you’re lucky enough to have a supportive family, take up their offers to help. They like to feel needed and helpful and when so much is going on, let them take the reigns on the housework or your life admin for a moment. You’re not a failure for doing this.
Also, sometimes the best ear is one that has no bias and you can simply vent to without feeling like you already know their answers. A psychologist has helped me many times over in my life, even if its simply just an hour of venting to someone who is paid to listen. It helps! I’d love to break the stigma and taboo around caring for our mental health because it’s so critical to the health of the rest of our body!
#4 Eat as best as you can – Eat when you feel like it, and make sure that includes plenty of vegetables and fruit. But don’t even mention the word diet. Sometimes your ‘no go treat foods’ are perfect food for the soul. Make whatever is easy, but make sure to try and nourish yourself as it helps your brain cope with everything too.
#5 Get outside in nature – Day to day lives can be pretty lacking in moments of gratitude for true authentic nature. Go for a walk along the beach when it’s not crowded. Discover a new hike, go find a waterfall. Just be. Be in nature and breathe the fresh air. It’s incredible the healing that this can bring.
#6 Have new experiences – Create new memories and show yourself life is still ok. That the unknown and the new can be lots of fun. You may have lost something great, but that doesn’t mean greatness won’t ever be in your life again in other ways. For me, during this last 12 months, I’ve made a bunch of new friends and appreciated the ones, new and old, that have really stepped in without asking to show their support. I’ve gone on hikes, traveled to New Zealand, drove a brand new Jaguar, switched my skincare up, took a roadtrip in a campervan, had a market stall, got my first tattoo, did my firstlive interview on TV(!) and with the help of some fun email invitations from PaperlessPost, I’m going to host drinks and nibbles for the first time in what feels like forever!
#7 Book a trip – Travel has this magical ability to open your eyes and see the world with child-like wonder again. It can temporarily help you forget about your troubles, but more than that, it helps you grow, helps you find moments of joy again and allows you to step out of that ‘groundhog day’ funk you might feel when you’re constantly trying to do the same thing day in and day out without time to process and heal.
#8 Write it down – If you can’t sleep, feel overwhelmed, or simply have no idea how to unjumble all those ‘to-do’s’ in your head. Write them down. Doesn’t have to be a ‘dear diary’ situation. Find a spot, and start writing. You’re not in school. Noone is going to read it. It doesn’t matter what comes out, or how it comes out. Just start writing with no judgement. I guarantee you’ll feel a little better and perhaps discover something you were holding onto that you either needed to release in some way or acknowledge as part of your healing process.
#9 Pamper yourself – I don’t know about you but when I feel lousy for whatever reason, I tend to take less care of myself. So fight the trend and go get a massage, a facial, a new outfit, and/or treat yourself to something you love that you’d only ever do on occasion. A little splurge can help lift your spirits.
#10 Rest, Read or Listen – Sleep is ok at any time of day when you’re utterly exhausted from emotional stress. Read an empowering book if you’re terrible at sitting still – I love all of Brene Brown’s books for this. Self-love is so important. If you’d rather sit and listen to something with your eyes closed, find podcasts and Youtube clips of motivational people. A few of my favourites are Gary V, Jay Shetty, Will Smith, and Tom Bilyeu. If none of that does it for you, listen to your favourite emotive music and just let yourself be immersed in that.
Whatever you’re going through and however you choose to look after yourself during that time, know that you’re not alone. It might not feel like it, but trust me, there will be good days amongst the bad and its worth it to keep going.
If you’re feeling suicidal, unsafe or extremely distressed and need to talk to someone right now, contact one of the following services, either via telephone or online:
- eheadspace.org.au: headspace’s online chat counselling service. Available 7 days a week, 9 am – 1 am, AEST.
- kidshelpline.com.au: Kids Helpline’s web-based and email counselling service. Available 24/7 for young people up to 25 years.
- lifeline.org.au: Lifeline’s online chat counselling service is available 7 days a week, 7 pm – 4 am, AEST.
- The Beyond Blue Support Service provides advice and support via telephone 24/7 (just call 1300 22 4636), daily web chat (between 3pm–12am) and email (with a response provided within 24 hours).
- MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 – A telephone and online support, information and referral service, helping men to deal with relationship problems in a practical and effective way.