Make A Fresh Start This Spring

It is the first day of Spring here in England and it has been such a beautiful day. What started out in heavy rain has become beautiful sunshine, which is pretty fitting considering what this blog post is about. Grab a cup of tea and join me for a little chat, because I would like to share with you how you can give yourself a fresh start whilst sharing with you some of the things I did to help overcome depression.

Giving Your Mind A Spring Clean

Spring is my favourite season; partly because I am a spring baby (I am 21 next month!) and partly because for me, it is all about new beginnings. This Spring, I encourage you to join me in giving your mind a “Spring clean”, turn over a fresh leaf and make the best of the longer days ahead. Life is a beautiful, fleeting thing and I want to make the most of it.

The winter months were a bit mad for me and threw a few curve balls at me, but I have learnt how to remain positive and keep my head held high when faced with difficult emotions and problems. It is easier said than done to be positive and optimistic. If you said to me a year ago that I would be the happy, life-loving person I am today, I would have laughed in disbelief. I was plagued by horrid depression and anxiety through most of my teenage years; I wanted to end my life on more than one occasion. I am not that person anymore, nor will I ever be and I have a whole new perspective on life itself. I love it, as crazy as it can be. It is a roller coaster. We are not supposed to be on a high all the time. Can you imagine that? If we were all happy 24/7, most of us would live in insane asylums.  Through pain and hardship we grow as do the flowers in Spring. We are, for the most part, in control of our own happiness and there are things you can do to give yourself a fresh start. I use my own philosophy that I like to call “The Three L’s”:

  1. Learn to Let go

  2. Learn to love your body

  3. Learn to Love Yourself And Others

Letting Go

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The word “spring” literally means to move or jump suddenly or rapidly upwards or forwards. To move on we must look forward, not back. Ajahn Chah once said, “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” I am not saying you will be able to let go of the past straight away, healing takes time, but it is possible. Whether it be leaving a bad relationship, moving on past a loss or a traumatic event or simply letting go of the version of yourself who is holding you back, even a small change can be a step in the right direction.

This time last year, I was at University and I hated it, but I was too scared to leave through fear of change and failure. I went to a very good University and thought it would be ludicrous to give it all up. I was told they would be the best years of my life, but I had never felt so low. I was suicidal; I felt like an absolute failure and believed I had no worth or purpose. It took a doctor to tell me I had a severe problem, for me to realise I actually was very sick. I stayed at University for two years until I plucked the courage to leave as I knew my mental and physical health was more important than a degree I did not even want. Last Spring I took a jump and dropped out of University (after carefully considering my options) and it was the best thing I did. This October, I plan to study a Bachelor Of Science In Health Science part-time, learning all about bio-medical, psycho-social, organisational and societal aspects of health, disease and health care, which is my true passion. I learnt this when I left University and spent time getting to know myself a little better. I currently work in a school for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which makes me smile on a daily basis as I get to witness how incredible humans are and just how wonderful life can be. My life, whilst not always easy, brings me so much joy.  Change is scary, but sometimes change is exactly what you need. I now know, that I can overcome what ever life throws at me with just a little will and faith.

Look After And Love Your Body

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I truly believe that our physical health is intrinsically linked with our happiness and mental well-being. It is true that a healthy body is a healthy mind and I can not stress enough the importance of a good diet and regular exercise. I am not saying that you should turn into a kale eating gym bunny, because that is just not realistic for the majority of us; we are human after all and we are not perfect, but in saying that, I am not encouraging you to eat whole pizzas and drink lots of coke on a daily basis either.

At my lowest stages, my physical health was of little concern to me. It is different for everyone, but when I was depressed, I treated my body like a trash can. Sugar gave me a high temporarily, only for me to crash and feel absolutely shit afterwards. When I cut out the crap and actually started eating healthily, I felt better. It was that simple. I am not saying that a good diet will cure your depression, because depression works much more deeply than that, but for me, learning to look after myself helped me to see that I was worth something and it made me feel better. Being physically healthy made me realise my want for a healthy mind. It is very hard to feel good when you are feeling run down and sluggish, relying on coffee and fizzy pop to get you through a day. Try eating clean for 30 days and trust me, you will see a difference.

Just a disclaimer, my diet is not perfect. Now and again ill have a takeaway and I am very fond of chocolate. However, I understand the importance of balance and I truly feel at my best when I am eating clean. Personally, I like to follow a vegetarian diet focused on consuming as much plant-based food as possible. Do I do this religiously and eat kale and avocado toast every day? Absolutely not. But, 80% of the time, I eat properly and wholesomely.

 

Learning To Love Yourself and Others- Living Life with Compassion

Sometimes, the key to happiness is thinking less of yourself and more of others. To live a compassionate life, you must first love yourself. It is very hard to form good, strong relationships and to see things in a good light when you are your own worst critic. By thinking less of yourself, I mean that when you are constantly thinking of all of your faults and things you do not like about yourself, it is hard to see the good in anything, including other people. Stop being your worst critic and learn to be your own best friend instead of putting yourself down. Stop comparing yourself to others and learn to love what you have.

I like to think of loving yourself a bit like a marriage. Marriage is, ideally, a life long commitment and like any long-term relationship, it requires work. What I am trying to say is that like any good relationship, you have to put work and effort in to it and it is an ongoing process that will not happen overnight. You will learn to love yourself for the rest of your life.

It is not going to perfect and happy all the time and there will be days where you do not particularly like yourself and that is okay. Searching for perfection is often the death of all happiness. We spend so much time wanting the very best of everything to the point that we are never satisfied with what we do have, especially when we are comparing it to what we think others have or when we set unrealistic expectations. If something is not perfect, we often think it is not good enough and we starting pointing fingers at ourselves and others, instead of appreciating what we have and living in the moment. When you love yourself, it is easy to detect when a relationship is just a shit relationship, because you know your worth and what you truly deserve. It is easier to build and maintain friendships because you learn to be empathetic and kind on a different level, because you are at peace with yourself. And if you still can’t love yourself? Try starting by loving other people.

It is easier to love than to hate: Hate/jealousy/envy- all these emotions carry this awful weight with them. Being kind is so, so easy. Yes, some people are just shitty people and that is inexcusable, but often trying to empathise with others, see things in their perspective and learning to look at the good in people can really help with your own self-esteem. Also, helping others and being kind is so incredibly rewarding. Knowing you have made someone else’s day better, often can improve your own and one simple act of kindness can lift your spirits, not to mention how you may have just turned someone else’s bad day in to a good one. It may be something as small as smiling at someone to helping with a charity or important cause, whatever it is, it is better to be kind rather than to be hateful. What purpose does being hateful serve you, if not to pull you down? Let go, look forward and learn to love.

Take in the spirit of Spring and focus on new beginnings, new trails of thought and new outlooks on life. It is possible to be very content and happy with the simplest change of perspective. Do not be afraid to ask for help and try not to carry the burden of whatever you are going through on your own. Learn to let go of the past and look to the future. I wish you all the very best and I hope this post could be of some use to you.

Lots of Love,

Elizabeth

xox

 

 

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