Updated: May 9, 2020
‘New year new me’ is a saying I often hear when the threat of a new year approaches. I tend to childishly sneer at these irritating words and bat them away as nonsense. Why does a new year have to be the making of a new you? Surely reinventing yourself could happen throughout one of the 365 days on offer, rather than putting it on hold until the first day of a new year?
"There are far better things ahead than any we have left behind." C.S.Lewis
Wednesday 1st January 2020 saw me eat my own words when I turned to a friend and timidly informed her; ‘this is going to be my year. 2020 will be the year of me.’ I quickly retreated, realising how corny and unconvincing I came across, and after giving myself a mental slap, got on with the day. But those words have been playing on my mind and as we head further into the year, I confidently made the resolution that 2020 really is going to be a ‘new year new me’ kind of year.
The past few months my mental health has been pushed to the brink and tested in ways I didn’t think possible. After experiencing a few bumpy starts to the year and one or two rocky moments in December, I felt as if I were constantly unravelling at the seams. But rather than let it suffocate or torment like it once would, these experiences shook me up in a positive way. A hefty reminder that the ‘path of life’ is rough as hell and can fork off and U-turn without a moment’s hesitation, but it’s what you choose to do with it that can make or break you; whether you allow your mental health to work, or resist, in order to get you through whatever haphazardly stumbles your way.
Now, as we head into March, I feel more at ease. Deciding to take a little time out for myself and making the effort to put me first was a significant part of why I feel 100 times better today than I did several weeks ago. It's easy to break when the importance of self-care dwindles, taking a backseat over the suddenly monstrous task of breathing, whilst attempting to stop the daily sinkhole of emotion that creeps in; distorting, overwhelming and darkening the horizon. I ensured I didn’t crumble like a house of cards and instead, concentrated on all the things I had let slide.
Although certain situations may not have gone quite as planned, I don’t feel remorse or regret that they didn’t pan out as expected. Do I wish I could change anything? No, not particularly. There are certain people whom I've desperately wished I could prevent from harm or pain, but I believe these 'life changes' are a good opportunity to sit up and re-evaluate the journey you're currently on. Rather than let it completely break me, I chose to lean on someone when I needed it, or took solitary time out when I required grounding again.
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks" John Muir
I owe a lot of how I am today to walking. Grabbing my boots, Purdy and camera and heading to the coast or countryside is my go-to when I require time to think, and to persuade the shadows to disappear. Walking, whether singly, with a friend(s) or as part of Cornish Ramblings has saved me from crumbling on a number of occasions. When a scenario leaves me feeling off-kilter I go for a walk, only making my way home when I feel the clouds have lifted and I'm ready or willing to face the challenges ahead. I go for a walk when I need space from those around me, or to make a bit of extra space in my head. I'm not claiming that walking solves all life's problems. I'm not saying it cures or heals your worries or difficulties per se. But walking and being surrounded by nature, as well as keeping people around you who want to care and nurture, can have a significant impact in helping to lead you in a much clearer direction.
Getting outside and walking has helped me immensely and I am a strong advocate for green therapy; hug a tree, breathe in that fresh sea air, find an empty field and scream at the sky, go somewhere you’ve never been before – whatever you decide to do, just get outside and you'll soon see there’s a whole world out there, right on your doorstep, just waiting to make you feel good.
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order." John Burroughs
To anyone who has felt their own mental health take a hit this year; you’ve got this. Reach out to someone, anyone, and talk. Don’t think you’re a burden in anyway and don’t feel like you have to fix it yourself. And to those of you who may not be currently suffering with your mental health, there are just two words I ask of you...
'Individual acts of bravery and compassion can change the world. It is time to do the same for mental health'
Below are some helpful numbers should you need to speak to someone and remember, you’re not alone and it really is okay not to be okay.
Charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm)
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5pm to midnight)
Men's Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
The UK's largest provider of relationship support.
Cruse Bereavement Care
Phone: 0808 808 1677 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)