It’s autumn / fall season once again, and right now I have a beautiful view of auburn, orange, red, gold and green leafy trees. I am delighted, now that I am out of the city once more, to be able to watch squirrels scamper in my parents’ garden, to see magpies and a garden fox and to hear birdsong. In the city where I usually live, there are plenty of parks and green spaces, but in order to get to them I have to walk through the city, cross traffic and share the space once there with other people. In this pandemic year, it is a welcome relief to have some quiet space, to simply be able to look out the window and see trees and birds without having to go anywhere to enjoy such a peaceful autumnal scene. I find that watching the leaves gently shiver and the branches sway in the breeze calms my mind somewhat.
Yet, we may face seasons in our lives when our surroundings are not conducive to rest, whether because of other people, circumstances, stressors or events. Further still, we may also experience times where regardless of whether our external environments are peaceful or problematic, our own psychological processes cause us pain.
I am well versed with such struggles. I know that a troubled mind is not necessarily calmed by peaceful surroundings, and I also know that in difficult circumstances we may find a resilience to overcome the odds and challenges that we may not have realised, despite the suffering that may bring us to such a realisation.
Whatever situation you find yourself in presently, it is important to consider your thoughts. I have written many articles on this previously so if you are interested please browse my blog if you need encouragement with your thoughts, mental health and well being.
This year has been a lot to process. If like me you’ve ever experienced times of ‘burn out’, you’ll know the awful feelings of stress, anxiety and heightened fight-flight-freeze responses that living in a reactive state to your circumstances can bring.
When we’re always on the go, always wound up, battling racing thoughts and constantly on survival mode, then our bodies react with stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol and this can take a toll on our long term physical, mental, psychological and emotional health if left unchecked.
That’s why it is so important to have a way to process your thoughts and experiences in a healthy way.
To do this, you need to try to carve out time and space for yourself where you are not simply absorbing information (as we explored in my previous post), and where you can be still and allow your mind to try to make sense of whatever is going on with you.
It can be hard to know where to start, which is why I will explore this topic further in subsequent posts, but a good starting point is to begin with an awareness of the importance to give your mind space and time away from the noise in order to rest, reflect, process and organise as well as to heal from stress, traumas and such like.
Maybe you can start by thinking about whether this is important to you, and if not, why not? If you are not taking care of your mind, then perhaps you should be because your mind matters – you matter.
Set aside some time today, even if just a minute to begin with, to quieten your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and to become aware of what is bothering you or causing you stress or anxiety, or to simply enjoy the peace of the moment you are in.
I will follow this post up with one on the benefits of journaling as a way of processing your thoughts, so for the meantime, remind yourself of the importance of looking after your mind and your mental health as a crucial part of self care in the pandemic, and together we will explore more practical steps as to how to take this forwards.
Stay safe, friends, and be kind to yourself. x