If the first half of the year seemed to drag on forever, I’m finding that summer is whizzing by. Without trying to make light of a global pandemic, the things that have been required of us have become humdrum. Humans are very adaptable and I’ve only been asked to work from home and wear a mask in enclosed spaces. In the last week of July, as I started to think about August, it was raining. I was sitting in my kitchen wearing a jumper because it was cold and grey and wet. Last weekend was a heatwave, so it’s still summer but it is the last month of summer. We might have a September and October of good summer-ish weather but the nights have just started to get a little bit longer and days shorter and autumn is waiting in the wings.
In a year where so much has changed, the prospect of autumn is still not something I’m keen on. There are beautiful autumn and winter days, there are family birthdays and harvests and Christmas, but the days are dark and my brain chemistry doesn’t cope as well as I, or any of the people around me, would like. Now that my birthday is out of the way, it’s time for me to think about habits that are going to help me get through winter.
Lots has been said about mental health and wellbeing this year and I don’t want to add to the noise, but I do want to encourage you to think that your actions can make a difference to your mental health. Biology and circumstances are a huge part of poor mental health, I’ve experienced that and if you are suffering right now, I’m not going to tell you that a walk or the power of positive thinking will cure you. That’s nonsense. This isn’t your fault, but what I can say is that after years of dealing with this, is that managing mental health is a process, it’s constant, there is not quick fix or a magic pill that will make it all better. Sometimes you’ll need more help and sometimes less but what you do can mitigate some of the peaks and troughs and help you to monitor your mood, which can help, even if it’s just that you’ll be able to get help that bit sooner.
So that said, let’s get to the part where I tell you what I’m going to do in August, if you’ve been around for a bit, none of this will be new or surprising, the reason I do them so often is that they work for me.
I work better when the flat works. I’ve been re-arranging some space and chucking things out to make the flat less cluttered and easier to use. Last month, I started hoovering the kitchen and hall every day and everywhere else weekly. I loathe hoovering, but I live in a house with wooden floors and they are very dusty, sweeping doesn’t really work and hoovering does. So this is something I need to force myself to keep doing through August so that by September it’s habit.
Also started in July was morning yoga, this and body balance is going to be key to starting my day at home when it’s dark and I don’t need to be out of bed until the last minute. Last winter, I did yoga on work from home days and it’s good for me. So morning yoga on work days and body balance at least twice a week and when it’s not raining a daily lunch time walk.
I need to bring back the routine of getting away from screens and into bed. Last winter, the Golden Hour was actually the Golden Hour and a Half. A time to switch screens off, reset the flat so it was ready to go the next morning and have a bath (I’m still absolutely convinced that 30 minutes in a hot bath helps me be less depressed, even if there has only been one study to that effect – it’s about raising the body temp!). So for weekdays, we start that again.
It’s not much but it helps me…