Did you know that last Saturday 10th October was World Mental Health day? Mind, the UK mental health charity, reminds us that mental health problems stretches further than the anxiety and angst a lot of us are feeling at the moment, indeed mental health problems are serious and include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and chronic depression. Ah yes, chronic depression, I know about that, my mother suffered from the latter, in the days when there was little on offer. I found out much later that the treatment of her depression was just antediluvian including tranquillisers (nooo!!) which made her more and more depressed, an offer to go into the nearby ‘mental’ hospital (known as the ‘bin’, which she refused) and copious amounts of ECT (which she accepted and left her walking around like a zombie). And all of this going on as me and my sister were growing up. It was only years later when at the time I was working at a national project and looking into support for ‘young carers’ that I thought, hang on, that description….. that was me!
But hey, things weren’t all bad during our childhood, and furthermore the depression gene did not come my way, and indeed decades later I realised her depression wasn’t intrinsic to her, it wasn’t something that the ‘housewife’ got, there were many reasons that led to her depression, (which one day I hope to write about in a memoir). No, instead I am Mrs Anxious, (all disguised of course) and boy is this tendency to anxiety not particularly helped by the current circumstances.
So, what to do about being more resilient during these challenging times? Well, the Mind website has some great tips for mental health and wellbeing, which all of us can take on board, and I am going to share them with you.
And btw, mental wellbeing will be different for everyone and mean different things to different people, and also note I am no expert as this is just coming from a little research, which is something we can all do as we need to find our own solution and our own path to wellbeing.
Relax and reduce stress
There are so many ways to do this and the Mind website gives us several tips including that of mindfulness and paying attention to the present. Do you try to live in the moment? It’s a good maxim, but it is actually quite tricky and just like physical exercise, is a discipline to be practised. If you find yourself thinking about the gloom of the winter, especially those cold clammy months of January and February (just writing this makes me inwardly shudder because I’m also remembering the illness I had in those months) you have to stop and picture another better scenario. What about distracting yourself away from anxiety? Instead of watching the news or reading the newspaper or simply over-thinking, what cultural documentary can you watch that will stimulate and interest you? I’ve been watching several documentaries fronted by the historian David Olusoga, gosh, I do admire him. There are so many interesting programmes to find on places like iPlayer, I expect there are similar platforms in other countries. Watch those instead of, you know, the dreaded stats and the simply appallingly inept pronouncements from you-know-who! And then there’s exercise, which is the path to the reduction of stress for me, but see more about that below.
Find ways to learn and be creative
As you know we are going to participate in online classes via the newspaper, The Guardian. They’ve been running classes and courses for several years now, and I’ve gone to many of these. Indeed their course on setting up a WordPress blog was what got me started on the path to blogging. A lot of the classes are around writing headed by their journalists, which is an extra bonus for a Guardian reader, as it’s great to see them in flesh. But the classes are many and various including ones on personal development, all, of course, via Zoom now. I plan to do one a month and although sadly the one we’d booked for October was postponed to November, I relish the idea and look forward to the stimulation and inspiration you get from these classes. If you don’t fancy doing the whole Zoom/Webinar thing I wonder what is happening re: classes and/or lectures in your local area? (If that is still possible with, you know…) Indeed I wonder, are there classes on the whole remote communication we’re all doing via IT? If there aren’t any, there jolly well ought to be. I know from living with people who are just that bit older than me, that this kind of communication is not what they do. But it is not impossible at all to teach and/or learn these skills. For several years Mr F taught 80+ people to use IT, Skype, in particular, and they were so keen to do this – maybe they were self-selecting but even so, never say never (about anything) yourself, and never, ever say older people cannot learn to use IT.
And what about something more practical and creative? I’ve just started knitting again and really enjoying it. This is the front of a cardi for my expected (very soon) grandchild.
What is it that triggers something inside you – take it up and give it a try.
Spend time in nature
Oh yes, do, but don’t think that it has to be in the depths of the countryside. Here’s my take on nature!
Connect with others
I haven’t got any Zoom coffees this week and I’m feeing gosh, who can I talk to over the next few days, because, yes, I like to meet up with friends via Zoom at 11.0am with a coffee. It’s great to see people this way, and while it is absolutely not the same as seeing them in person, it really is a boon and quite lovely to see your friends.
Btw, I believe that some fashion journos have written articles on what to wear for Zoom meetings. Oh for goodness sake, ignore all that! It’s the connection that is important rather than what you are wearing! On the other hand, any excuse to dress up, as there are so few opportunities these days, so here’s a new wool jacket I bought for £6! I could wear that for these meet-ups.
Then for me there’s the connection that I get through the blogging scene. The fashion is important but not the only reason for this blog.
There’s you commenting on this blog, which gives me the opportunity to reply to every one of you, and then there are all the other blogs run by lovely women that you can visit and get to know. The whole blogging thing makes you realise there is a very large community of women out there who are simply, well, nice. And it’s so good connecting with them and becoming close through commenting.
Look after your physical health
As you all know it is so important to look after your physical health. You need to take care of yourself and eat well and drink lots of water, and rather than having copious amounts of coffee and tea throughout the day, there are plenty of decaffeinated drinks you could take up. Me, I can’t quite get into the herbal teas, instead I have decaffeinated coffee and tea, and actually the decaffeinated (ground) coffee has a really good taste to it, and Yorkshire decaffeinated tea is just like the real thing.
Now that it is Autumn I make many soups, which we have for our midday meal and are, basically, vegetables chopped up, sautéed and with organic stock are simmered for 20-30 minutes and ground down. I make a ‘green’ soup, which I love, made from leeks and courgettes, plus some rosemary, which is yummy. Another green soup is an onion sautéed and then with the vegetable stock I add frozen peas and simmer for 20 minutes. This with added mint is just delicious. Then a good ‘red’ soup I make is a combination of carrots and sweet potatoes, with added ground coriander and turmeric, this is also delicious. Btw, I can’t give you precise amounts of veg as I literally throw it all together without weighing a thing. But look at The Age-Well Project blog or buy their book, for properly set out recipes.
Their latest post is on the importance of movement, which is rather apt, because, as you all know as you age, any kind of movement is important. I know a lot of you take classes in yoga or pilates. Whatever, keep moving; get up out of that chair and go for a walk. For me, Pilates and my daily walk structures both the day and the week, and keeps me sane. Every single time I do a class or go for a walk I feel so much better and far, far less stressed.
And here’s my 3rd Second-hand September buy! It was this Australian Driza-bone coat bought for £40, which is pricy for a charity shop, but not as pricy as buying a new Driza-bone! And it’s going to be brilliant to wear through those wet winter days. All I need is a matching waxed hat and the outfit is complete.
Try to get a good night’s sleep
Oh ha, ha and LOL! Gosh, have I had a lot of insomnia over the past few months. That sleep programme I put myself on – it didn’t work. There were a couple of things that helped but it was basically 7 weeks of torture being kept up far too late! The reason behind that being that the latest research on insomnia is about the efficacy of severely restricting sleep. However, please don’t be put off by my experience, it could work for you. Anyway I finished it and then moved on to one session with a hypnotherapist, and really it was just a good discussion on ways and means, and this was helpful. Basically what has worked for me is having a carbohydrate snack and a small glass of milk about an hour before going to bed, plus listening to a half-hour mindful meditation tape in the dark after Mr F has turned the light out, and that really gets me off to sleep.
I guess this is the year for insomnia what with everything that is going on, but there is help out there and good advice – it’s just finding it!
That’s all for now, but I do hope you are all keeping well in the circumstances. Let me know how you are.
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper