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Focusing on the Small Things. #MentalHealthAwarenessDay

10/10/2017
I've just finished Daisy Buchanan's How To Be A Grown Up. This isn't particularly momentous given that lots of people finish books quite often, but it feels particularly noteworthy to me as I have been slowly devouring it for a month. It was also finished on a packed, peak train from Leeds to Bradford, where I've unceremoniously plonked myself on the floor and the carriage reeks from the fumes of the chicken slaughterhouse. That last part is particularly annoying as I've requested chicken Kiev for tonight's tea.

Now you might think I'm shoehorning this in (mainly because I definitely am) but the main reason I'm telling you about this mundane experience is that it's Mental Health Awareness Day. I can't summarise everyone's personal experiences, but one of the major contributing factors in my poor mental health has been my tendency to overlook the small things that make me happy. Like, hence the tenuous link, finishing a good book.

Instead, I tend to give more weight to the things I think *should* be making me happy. Like going on a big night out in town, or having a glossy job in central London, or dating some really hot musician who looks exactly like Hugh Grant circa 1994. Then, when I'm not actively doing or achieving those things, I become obsessed with the fact that I lead a very sad life because how can I be happy if I'm not doing *those particular* things? 

I forget to do or I dismiss doing, the small things that make me happy because I become fixated on this other idea of happy. This other idea of happiness that isn't even mine.


However, since this tendency has been pointed out to me, and I've been aware of and actively working on resisting doing it, I've noticed a huge improvement in my mental health. Like today - I could have been furious about the lack of carriages, furious that I was on a Northern Rail rather than the tube and mad because I'm still doing my NCTJ when my friends are already journalists. Instead, I did one of my favourite things and guaranteed happy activities: I read a book.

Nothing has been more empowering or beneficial to my mental health than when I stopped subscribing to outside ideas of happiness. When I stopped posting endless Instagram Stories to prove how happy my life was. When I stopped saying yes to nights out despite being exhausted from work. When I stopped believing people would say I was boring if I didn't party or date. When I stopped trying so hard to force myself to do what I *thought* should make me happy, and gave myself space to do what actually makes me happy, my mental health seemed to settle. It seemed more manageable.

Focusing on the small, minute things that give me joy and relishing in those moments has been so important in managing my mental health. I'm going to end by sharing some of those things with you, and I hope you'll share yours with me too. x

Having a cup of tea in the warmth of your bed as rain pelts the window outside. Sneaking in chapters on a busy commuter train. Spending the day preparing a meal and sitting together to eat it. Silencing the noise of the crowds with a good audiobook. Writing something off the cuff and falling in love with your own words. Planning a five-course meal from menus of restaurants you'll never go to. Bragging about your friend's successes as though they are your own. Rewatching comedy series that never fail to make you laugh. Discussing meals in detail, at great length. Stumbling across live music to enjoy with a pint and a boogie. Cuddling with my best friend Max because, aren't dogs bloody great? Having a glass of good red and watching Goodfellas. Again. Meeting someone you really connect with when you least expect it. Long walks in light drizzle. Skiving the gym for pizza and friends. The comfort of a family all together, happy, watching rubbish Saturday night TV.

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