I recently started taking guest feature submissions for the blog and I’m really excited to be able to start sharing these special pieces with you. These contributions offer other women’s perspectives of their own mental health or wellbeing, and highlight some of the different ways that we can care for ourselves. If you are interested in writing a piece or being interviewed I would love to hear from you! Alternatively, you can nominate someone that you’d like to hear more from and let me take care of the rest.
The first guest feature I have to share with you was written by Hannah-Jayne (@hannahjayne_1990), who is someone that I, personally, find hugely inspiring and uplifting. I love her view of the world and she’s one of those rare people whose mere presence, even virtually, makes you feel as though you’re wrapped up in a warm hug. Full disclosure, I’ve never met Hannah-Jayne in person, but we’ve become chummy in the Instagram world and I have heard her speak once. I still feel confident in making the ‘warm hug’ statement though, because some things you just know.
Hannah-Jayne has anxiety disorder. She has spent many years learning to manage it and her voice speaks (in this case, writes) with the type of insight that can only come from lived experience. Keep reading, as she generously and artfully explores how planning and implementing structure can aid wellbeing and create space for joy.
Plot, plan and play.
It is hard to write what you’re good at. So here I will ceremoniously ‘eat the frog’ and start this blog with a whopper…
I am very good at time management.
I can’t say it’s any good doing of my own, it’s just something I possess and I’m very grateful for it.
In my wellbeing matrix, it is important for me to live my life not chained to a clock, but with conscious ability to plan. This is perhaps because I like the rhythm and structure, but also, to agitate the notion that ‘planning isn’t fun, just go with the flow (man)’ it enables me to squeeze every moment out of my life for optimal fun doings.
I hope you don’t mind me explaining an element of structure that I implement, in a small hope that it may help someone…
Most weeks I write my intentions, plans and goals on a big piece of paper and leave it somewhere I will always see it.
I start with intentions that are applicable to every day of the week. They can be a mixture of practical things (call so and so), or they could be a more mindful practice (be aware of time spent on your phone). It is something that I can or should apply to every day, or specifics that need to be done on any day.
Then I break the page into sections dedicated to each day. Within that day I split into further variables that are important to me for my wellbeing. For example, mine are FOOD, BABY, PHYS and WHAT’S ON.
FOOD is probably my most important. It is estimated that around 90% of our serotonin (happy hormone) is created in our gut. Without being obsessively ‘Holland & Barrett’ (because obsession over anything turns it unhealthy) I pride myself on home-cooked, healthy and balanced meals (80% of the time!). With a small 10-month-old baby and a partner who commits regular carbocide, this needs to come from me, and I could not execute this without forward planning and meal prep. I highly recommend batch-cooking on a Sunday for your week ahead, I reckon it saves me 8 hours minimum.
BABY is a variable that may not relate to your life, so perhaps you could alter it here to fit a large part of your life. This is where I jot down her classes and her food (which I have prepped previously)
PHYS is the active side. Sport and fitness is one of my biggest factors in my mental health web. Without it, I really can suffer. Here I write my workouts and movements – at the moment it tends to be cardio/high-intensity followed by yoga on alternate days.
WHAT’S ON is the social calendar for my week. I’m an ambivert (cross between extroverted and introverted) so the balance between needing to be around the buzz of people, mixed with the notion of needing down-time to decompress is more visible when I see my week laid out.
There are times when all of this happens, and there are fewer times when I do even more and add them to the list just to tick off. However (and more often than not recently) there is a lot that rarely gets done. And here’s the important part of this process…
I prefer a proactive rather than reactive approach to my mental health; after all, it’s much easier to stamp out embers than to have to find peace within a raging fire. So, this is why I write my intentions most weeks. On the good weeks I achieve them, and on the days where so little is possible, I am gentle with the inability of ticking things off. But I continue. Why? Because it reminds me of the days that I am more than capable, and it fuels a hope. Within the continuation of setting goals and plans, I keep the wheel spinning so that the hope stays and never dries. Because in my experience, if you have hope for yourself, you have everything you need.
Photos by Kasia Kiliszek (@kkiliszek)