January for me, is usually full of excitement. I adore New Years day and feel a giddiness at how amazing the year ahead is going to pan out. To be fair, I am that girl that literally feels like every Monday is the start of the best week ever. You can only imagine my excitement on the 1st January! However, this year was different. I felt a little lost. A little rudderless. I was trying to ride the choppy seas of an emotional storm, without falling out of the boat! Now I am through the other side of it, I see it for what it was. Taking care of my emotional health and well being was the key that unlocked my usual excitement and giddiness. The excited, positive, fifty-planner’s-on-the-go Kerry is back in full force!
This post is in collaboration with Intu Lakeside and their well being initiative. The Lighthouse Tour, a mood boosting trio of coloured houses, is touring 12 selected Intu shopping centres this year, and is at Lakeside, Essex until 8th February.
As those of you that have been with me a while know, the last few years have been pretty tough for our family. Nik’s battle with cancer has been brutal and relentless. Our focus, hopes and attention has been on getting him well. My energy went on keeping everyone positive, making sure our boys were coping ok. My family needed me to be the strong, fierce warrior that I am known for. I stepped into the role in full. I felt an unyielding determination, a incredible positivity. Totally unshakeable in my own strength and, when I needed to be the strength of all four of us, I had no fears I could be.
Then, just before Christmas, we got some absolutely amazing news. Niks first blood test following his huge operation in September, showed his blood levels were normal. No disease detected at this stage. It was the best news we could have hoped for. It also meant he got a little respite from the endless hospital visits for three months. I am sure you can imagine, we had the best Christmas ever! Nik and I flew off to Budapest just prior, and we threw ourselves into the celebrations with all our family. It felt like we had won the blooming Euro millions ten times over!
Realising my Emotional Well Being was off Kilter
So January should have felt amazing right? Full of excitement and plans for the year ahead. All of the places on our travel wishlist could now be realised and all was right with the world. Only for me, it wasnt. I began to feel anxiety popping up. The anxiety that I had thought was long behind me, returned. My sleep was cut down to around 4 hours a night by my busy mind not switching off. The usual excitement of writing my New Year goals was replaced by feeling like I did not know what I was even aiming for. I felt the pressure of all the declarations of “Go Smash Those Goals’ being shouted loud and proud on social media. I was feeling like I wanted to pause life for a month so I could find my brains sat nav! My mind was full of noise and constant chatter. I could not get it to focus on the year ahead. I could not even focus on reading! Something that has always been my safe place to land.
It was while laying in bed, sleep evading me yet again, that the realisation came. My emotional well being had crashed and burnt. I was literally on my knees with the weight of all that had happened. Not only the last two and a half years of Nik’s battle, but the two years prior to that. Those two years I had faced some incredible challenges that tested me, tried to strip me of my self worth. The fact that life was letting us have a breather, being a little more gentle with us, meant my emotional army could stand down a little. The side effect of this drop in defences however, was that the emotions I wanted to feel but hadn’t let myself, were bubbling up to the surface. It was time to show myself some kindness, and give my emotional wellbeing some care.
Ways I Improve my Emotional WellBeing
I have found there are so many elements to what helps me get back into balance. It is all about finding out what works for you. Usually, our minds are reacting to untruths we are telling ourselves, therefore creating anxiety and un-rest within. Finding ways to bring yourself back to the present, grounding yourself in your truth and even distraction can all help. Here are some of the things I do.
Get Outside – Going for a walk in the fresh air is a huge help in my emotional well being. Sometimes I am accompanied by my little schnauzer Lulu, sometimes by the dog I walk for someone else, Roxy. Of course, it is well known that exercise boosts your mood. But in addition, I find that being mindful when I’m on my walk really helps. I notice EVERYTHING. The colours of the leaves, the song from the birds, the cute dogs I see on route. You can even hug a tree if the mood takes you! (yep, I’m that little hippy soul) Noticing, and truly seeing what is around you is incredibly powerful at grounding you in the present moment.
Meditation – Meditation plays a huge part in the health of my emotional well being. I have spoken before about how important it is to me in this post. During this challenging period I deepened my practise to help me regain some grounding. My usual morning meditation was lengthened, an evening one added. I worked fully on quietening my mind to hear the answers I knew were there.
A Wind down ritual – I implemented an evening ritual to help me rest properly of a night. Around 8 o clock I run myself a hot bath. I pour in some beautiful, aromatherapy bath essence from Neom, that I treated myself to. Neom, a brand with wellbeing at the heart of its creation, are one of my absolute favourite brands. Cruelty free, all natural ingredients, made in the UK, and a brand that gives back with support of charity. They also have a strong sustainability ethos, not only with how they source ingredients, but by aiming to be completely waste free by 2025! They are a wonderful brand (and now stocked at M&S Beauty).
Aromatherapy creates an amazing atmosphere to get a restful night
Calming the mind – Indulgent bath complete, on go a fresh set of pyjamas. Is there anything nicer than fresh pj’s?? I go into my bedroom and light a candle. Again, I love the Neom candles in our bedroom as they can really create an ambience for rest, (“Happiness” in particular is one I love). They are also made with sustainable ingredients, and nothing synthetic. I am fussy about my candles! I sit on my bed with my Ponderlily planner, and roughly plan for the next day. This has been a game changer for me. By writing down the next day’s to-do’s, it is like my mind can forget it all and rest. It helps stop my mind racing. It is a part of my evening I will always stick to now.
Turmeric Latte and Books – The last part of my evening routine is what I call my say good bye to the day ritual. I make a turmeric latte, (I use this one from Holland and Barrett) curl up with my book, (currently reading Oprah – What I know for Sure if you’re asking), and immerse myself in the pages for about 20 minutes. The latte not only feels comforting, but Turmeric has amazing health benefits. It is a powerful anti-oxidant, linked to improving brain function, lowering your risk of heart disease and even reported to help prevent cancer! I make my “golden milk” with a mug full of Oat milk, (I like the Oatly Barrista one), a generous tea spoon of turmeric and a 1/4 tea spoon of agave nectar to sweeten. I heat the milk on the hob, add the turmeric powder and stir until just starts to boil. Add the agave nectar to sweeten a little. Then finally, when I go to bed, I leave my phone in the lounge. I believe doing that is another thing that has helped me sleep better!
Come off Social Media – Taking a break from social media is something I feel everyone should do on a regular basis as a given. I personally, do not find that SM makes me feel bad about myself, but I do feel it is an added pressure at times. I feel guilty if I haven’t popped on and engaged with my friends content for a day. How silly is that! I also find if I have a lot of turbulence in my head, I find myself occasionally falling into the comparison trap. I take a step back and get some perspective.
Fake it till You Make it – No, I’m not saying go out and pretend to be a millionaire! But putting on something that makes you feel good does wonders! Whether thats a favourite outfit, statement earrings or like me, a pop of colour on my face. I find if I’m feeling a little lacking in confidence and sass, popping on a bold lipstick makes me feel more me. Trivial I know, but it just makes me feel like my Sasha Fierce is back for an encore! My go to is a Bare Minerals Gen Nude liquid lip in Swank which I picked up in House of Fraser.
Create a Gratitude Journal – I am a huge fan of journalling. Ever since reading the Miracle Morning Book when on a retreat in France, I have spent time journalling in the mornings. If you are unsure what that is, it is simply writing! For me, I spend about 15-20 minutes in the morning, writing down things I am grateful for from the day before. It can be anything at all that brought a smile to your face, or gave you joy. From hearing your kids laughter, to the way the day smelt after the rain. ANYTHING at all. Writing the things down that you are grateful for, especially in the morning, gives you a fabulous, positive start to the day. Gratitude also raises your energy vibration, which in turn, attracts more things to be grateful of. Win win!
Envelop yourself in those that love you – I am definitely someone that likes to figure out stuff alone. It is just how I am wired up. However, after I have figured a lot of stuff out by myself, I let those I know love me unconditionally, complete the process. Those people that you know, without any doubt, have your best interests and happiness at their heart. I will meet friends at lakeside for a meal (so much vegan choice there now, including Wagamama). I will spend cosy afternoons home with my family round. Close family and friends help me find my way along that last furlong. They gently push me the last steps to get back to the strong girl I am. Their love and desire to see me succeed in happiness and life is like an elixir. It energises me and is exactly what I need to get going again. I am forever grateful for them.
So, there we have it! In truth, I could carry on writing another thousand words about how I improve my emotional well being. It’s a journey I have travelled to its depths at times. I think we never stop growing and evolving as people. But I think we will leave it here now though. If we delve any deeper, it could possibly make you think I am slightly deranged! Let’s just say some other my other steps may or may not involve white sage, gems from the Earth, full moons and bare feet on grass……..
I would love to hear if there are any little routines that you have when you need to look after you. Any tips you have for making your emotional wellbeing lift. Personally, I think in many ways, our metal well being is far more debilitating than physical ailments (not serious illness). We need to be kind to ourselves. Show ourselves the same love and care we show the people special to us. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
** All items mentioned in this post (except the Ponderlily Planner, were purchased at Intu, Lakeside). Although this is a collaborative post, all items were my choices, views and opinions.