Year of Wellbeing Blog: Jess' story

Everyone has their own story to share about ways they have found to care for their own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of other people.

A team of bloggers have agreed to describe their personal journey. We hope their stories help and inspire others during our Year of Wellbeing.

 

How certain choices helped me to cure my SAD and manage my anxiety

year of wellbeing blogger jessJess shares how she has slowly but surely made changes to help her manage her mood and improve her life.

Have you ever experienced unsettling change and known that you’ve needed to do something to help yourself through it, but not known exactly what and felt really stuck?

That was me this time two years ago when I moved back home from Australia, and having previously suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I felt quite fearful about the coming winter months and worried I’d suffer even more with it this time around, with so much instability in my life at the time. My anxiety and PTSD symptoms were at an all time high, due to experiencing various traumas in a short space of time, so I knew I had to do everything in my power to not allow myself to feel any worse than I already did.

I made two key decisions - to get outside in nature and to go sober for the year.

I could have stayed inside hibernating and hiding away with my thick comfy blankets, Ted the hot water bottle, yummy candles and the TV remote. I think we all enjoy days like that occasionally don’t we? But having lived with and learnt a lot about my anxiety over the previous year, I knew deep down that, although the easier option initially, doing that day in and day out wouldn’t have been helpful or made me feel good over a long period of time. So I made the decision to stock up on vitamin D tablets and booked in regular walks with friends.

We traded catch up coffees for catch up walks. I started with the concept of little and often. My head went from churning things over at a million miles an hour to feeling clearer and lighter. I believe this was from a combination of offloading to friends, and simply moving my body, and filling my head and lungs with fresh air.

Out and about it felt like there was a mutual respect between myself, my friends and the other walkers with their dogs or in their couples or own company. We’d all made it out, despite the somewhat undesirable weather. Even the dogs had their cute winter jackets on and were braving the icy air and crisp ground with their little paws.

Something as simple as smiling and exchanging a hello with passers-by helped to boost my mood. It felt really good receiving a smile back and knowing that I’d maybe helped to make someone else’s day that little bit brighter by acknowledging them and sharing a smile.

Regular time outside started to feel so good that I ended up booking in hourly walks 2–3 times a week. I found this easier to do as I was only working part time, but on the days I didn’t get out, I’d put on a jumper, crack open a window or stand on the back doorstep and practice some mindful breathing to still get some fresh air circulating in my environment.

Alongside this, choosing not to drink helped my anxiety levels massively. I saved so much money and more importantly, time. Rather than feeling hung-over and unable to function properly for days afterwards, I was able to use all this extra time for writing and things that made me feel good in the long run.

So, it’s November now and the days are shorter and the nights longer. We can’t change the weather, so it’s important for us to embrace the crisp winter days and make the most of them when they’re here. As the colder months are approaching, how are you going to winter-proof yourself? Who could help you do this or how are you going to help others to do this?

We’re all responsible for our own wellbeing and those around us. Buddy up and keep each other accountable. Will you layer up with your warm winter coat, fluffy scarves, thick gloves and the all important bobble hats to embrace the great outdoors and boost your mood and energy levels? Start small and short if needs be, but notice the difference that regular time outside or the consumption of less alcohol can have on your mood and energy levels.

While I still get sad, it’s not as all consuming or debilitating as before, and that’s a wonderful and empowering feeling. You have what it takes to achieve the same, no matter what cards life deals you.
 

 

 

 

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