#MentalHealth: Give Yourself an Out

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and it’s really encouraging to see conversations about mental health-related issues come out of the shadows of shame and stigma.

We live in a very stressful world, with many different legitimate things vying for our attention. If you’re anything like me, you most likely don’t make it on to your own to-do list.

Over the last year or so, particularly with being forced to stay at home due to COVID-19, I’ve had to be a bit more intentional about putting myself on the agenda and it started with a process of coming clean to myself.

Coming clean to myself meant taking the risky and emotionally-fraught decision to leave a profession I was thriving in but at the same time, it was leaving me exhausted, miserable and resentful.

Coming clean meant asking myself ‘Dammy, what do you really like/enjoy?’ I had to take the ‘Dammy 101’ class again.

No one can live under sustained pressure for so long. We all need an out. A healthy escape mechanism.

Whether its the stressed-out mother hiding in the cupboard to eat her malteasers all by herself LOL! or the middle-aged executive taking recreational drugs after work, they’re crying out for the same thing: a distraction from the noise of expectations.

We all need an out.

You need an out.

In Love with being Busy?

Some of us are addicted to being busy.

We are ‘in love’ with being busy because much of our self worth is tied to our need to be seen doing something – sewing yet another costume for our children or joining yet another Zoom call we have no business in.

As a teacher, it was very tempting to organise a million and one after school clubs just to stay in the senior leadership’s line of sight. We forget that motion doesn’t necessarily mean movement. Hamster. Wheel. Get the picture?

I really can't take this anymore | Drakensang Online EN

I think God could have carried on tinkering with the world after 6 days of creation, add a few more inches here and there to the elephant’s tusks, a few more feathers on the flamingo, etc…but He didn’t.

On the 7th day, He took a break. He left it alone and called it ‘good’.

The Importance of Simple Pleasures

Over the last couple of years, I’ve found an out that temporarily distracts my attention off the tight rope I walk each day called life.

That out is the importance of simple pleasures.

For me this means regularly buying fresh flowers, tidying my space, reading a book with the delicious waft of a scented candle in the background, writing, watching my son repeatedly attempt his ‘Sonic moves’ while wearing out my sofa in the process, salivating over interior decor projects I can only dream to do haha 🙂 and listening to music. Oh and Zicsaloma on Instagram – cracks me up EVERY TIME!

I could go on and on…

Point is, our souls need a break, a refuge.

Not being able to travel has forced us all to be creative and intentional about how we destress. Who knows, it might wean us off the idea that there has to be a plane ticket or an expensive hotel involved for it to be relaxing.

For some people it’s art, photography, gardening (jury’s out on that one for me), singing, attempting a new recipe, sky diving or a bit of DIY.

Happiness doesn’t have to come with an exorbitant price tag

Happiness and a thriving mental health doesn’t have to come with an exorbitant price tag.

Now, as a Christian, I know that lasting satisfaction and peace comes from having a relationship with God but I have also come to realise that there are little things that can make my sojourn here a bit more comfortable.

I don’t think God’s plan is for us to be miserable on earth while waiting to arrive at the Celestial City.

Last week I wrote about suffering, but I would be morbidly imbalanced if I told you the Christian walk is ONLY full of challenges waiting to take you out.

If God didn’t want us to be happy, He wouldn’t have bothered creating a beautiful, diverse and vibrant world for us to marvel at.

You’d be surprised at how hanging out with like minded friends can make carrying your cross a little bit more comfortable.

For those of you still not convinced and need a Bible verse for why you need to look after your mental health, here you go:

A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)

BONE TIRED doesn’t sound like abundant life to me (John 10:10).

So, what’s your out?

Maybe you just need to leave something/someone alone, stop trying to ‘fix’ it/them and just enjoy it/them.

What can you do today to make your soul smile?

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