A mental health update and what helps me keep my head above water

Let’s be honest, 2020 was probably one of the most testing years for most of us when it came to our mental health, and I’m pretty positive that 2021 is going to be very similar. Mental health is something I’ve always spoken very openly about here (I’ll link some at the end of this blog post) and so I don’t really know why it’s taken me so long to chat about how I managed to keep mostly above water over the last year.

Last year was definitely a lot of up and down, the most difficult thing for me though was not having an end in sight, quite a few friends that I spoke to about this said that they felt the same. This year is very similar; we are still facing the same crisis, a lot of parents are still home schooling and all of us are trying to juggle the different aspects in our lives all while trying to not what can sometimes feel like a tidal wave of anxiety and emotions crush us.

I’ve definitely found it difficult to have that beginning of the year motivation feeling, but I feel like I’m finally coming out of the slump and there have definitely been more good days than down ones. I’m hopeful for 2021, I know that it’s going to be a tough year, we are still very much in the eye of the storm but I also think that we have better coping mechanisms now. We learnt a lot from 2020 and so this year, we can put all those lessons we learnt into practice. Our mental health should be one of our highest priorities and so I really hope that it’s something that all of us can focus on this year.

I know that everyone’s mental health journey is different and we all have different coping mechanisms but I thought that I would share what I do consistently that helps me as well as what I do to help pull me out of a slump. Maybe some of these will resonate with you or inspire you to try something else.

Make lists: I’m definitely a list person; it frees up mental space and when I tick things off throughout the day I really feel like I’ve accomplished something. I probably have about 2893028 lists on my phone, everything from gift ideas, to content I want to produce and grocery shopping that needs to get done. I’m one of those people who get ideas at a million miles an hour so writing them down really helps me, especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Exercise: Truly I never thought I would be one of those people who enjoy exercise, but slowly but surely I’m beginning to look forward to my 30 minutes on the road every morning. I’m not planning to run a marathon, not even a 5km, but putting on my headphones and moving my body makes such a difference to my overall mood for the day, those endorphins really are the best!

Getting outside: This sort of ties in with the previous point but getting some fresh air is so helpful, even if it’s just sitting outside in the garden for a few minutes, it’s like a complete reset for my mind. I spoke about our favourite outdoor spots on this Instagram post.

Organising: I know, this may seem a little crazy but it works particularly well when I’m in a slump, on one of those days where you just don’t feel like you can do anything. I’ll pick an area of the house and then get myself to organise it. Even if it is already pretty organised, I just unpack and repack it. For some or other reason, this really gives me a jump start that I need.

Staying on top of my meds: This isn’t for everyone but making sure that I take my anti depressant every evening is absolutely crucial for me. As soon as I’ve skipped two days I can feel my mood change; I’m more irritable, snappy and I start to feel that dark cloud forming above me. My post natal depression started after having Aria and then resurfaced again after Maia, it’s something I’ll always deal with and being on meds has been life changing for me. I don’t feel the need to wean myself off of them – being on them doesn’t make me feel funny, emotionless or not like myself and I’ve been lucky enough to find an anti depressant that agrees with me.

Watching my diet: Don’t get me wrong, I love my treats (I’ll never give up Friday pizza night!) but as soon as I over indulge one too many times I start to feel extremely sluggish. I make sure that my diet includes a decent variety of fruit and veg and that I have a protein at every meal. A well balanced eating plan makes such a big difference – my body feels healthier which has a direct effect on my mental health.

Sleep: Jeepers, if there’s one thing that I cannot go without it’s a good nights sleep. If I get anything less than 7 hours I am an absolute zombie the next day, making me feel completely useless and unproductive which of course does not help my mental health at all. I make sure that I go to sleep by 10pm latest with my phone on DND and I’m not embarrassed to say that I have an afternoon nap most days; the dishes can wait 90 minutes, so can the non urgent emails. I think that we really underestimate how powerful sleep is and what a massive effect a lack of good sleep has on us. If your sleeping habits aren’t great, I would definitely urge you to make some adjustments, it makes the world of difference.

Giving myself an off day: Sometimes you just have a bad day and you actually just need to sit in your emotions and process them, or you just need some proper down time to recharge for the rest of the week. This is often a Monday for me; both of the girls are at school and so after my morning workout and breakfast I will spend the majority of the day in my bed or on the couch watching series, catching up on social media and just lazing about. Of course if there are urgent things that need to get done but having this “off day” or even just an “off morning/afternoon” is so helpful to me, especially because weekends are usually go go go. I used to feel guilty about it, but now I see it as my mini weekend and time to myself.

Mental health is so important and I’m so glad that it’s becoming less and less taboo to talk about and what helps us to cope. We’re riding the craziest roller coaster life has ever put us on and we’re all in the same storm even if we aren’t in the same boat, my hope is that by sharing our own mental health journeys, we can help others with theirs.

Other posts you may find helpful:

Post natal depression, it wasn’t what I expected

My struggle with post natal depression – an update

Post natal depression – the second time around

South African Influencer Sarah Booyens

I’m Sarah, shameless coffee addict, brazen beauty fiend, mid-size style gal and the heart behind parentingbeauty and lifestyle blog, Mascara & Mimosas.

1 Comment

  1. So much truth my friend, thank you for sharing!
    Such valuable tips for anyone else struggling through, and I also so glad it is less taboo now more than ever x


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