F is for Forgiveness

This post is originally from the A-Z mental health series by The Pandora Box Gift Company 

Everyone makes mistakes, does something they regret or simply gets in a mood from time to time. If we have a healthy approach to life and ourselves, we can accept that these things happen, forgive ourselves and move on. When our mental health is poor, we stop forgiving. We turn into our own worst critics and thoughts and feelings can make us turn against ourselves. We don’t give ourselves the level of care or compassion that we need, lose patience and don’t give the time we need to allow ourselves to heal. When this happens, all of our energy is used up trying to process unwanted and unhelpful thoughts, leaving us tired and unmotivated. We turn into our own worst enemy all because we can’t forgive!

Learning to forgive yourself is a slow and hard process and only really works when it becomes habit. A good way to get into the habit is by writing down something that you will forgive yourself for everyday. This way you will get used to addressing what you need to forgive and why you need to forgive yourself for it.

  1. Start by writing down one thing every day that you need to forgive yourself for.

    This can be anything from “I didn’t do the washing up today” to “I cancelled plans to see my friend today”.

  2. Write down the reason behind the action. Work out the route cause of the action you want to forgive yourself for. Sometimes this can help you find patterns to certain actions or find the base reasons to why you can’t forgive yourself. Be truthful with this step.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside.

  1. Write down why this action happened. This shouldn’t be anything negative or emotive. This should look at the rationale behind the action and help you realise that some things are going to happen because of your mental health and that they are unavoidable. What’s the point of punishing yourself for something that’s going to happen every now and again.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety.

  1. Write I forgive myself.

    Each day you write this it will further instil itself and eventually you’ll believe it!

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me. I forgive myself.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety. I forgive myself.

The list helps you realise the different ways poor mental health effects your life and how it isn’t your fault. After a while you will see that the small things you’ve been punishing yourself for a a direct result of an illness that clouds your judgement. In the end you will get into a habit of forgiving yourself and will find yourself stronger and more able to take on whatever your mental health throws at you. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

Further steps:

If you feel strong enough, a great thing to do is to add a step that addresses what you will do next time this situation comes up to help you achieve your intentions. I find that if I have a an idea written down, I am more likely to do it than if I just think about it.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me. I forgive myself. Next time I will look out for indications that I am getting tired and try and do as much of the washing up as possible.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety. I forgive myself.

    Next time I will realise that I am meeting a friend and everything will be fine. The only reason I won’t go out is due to physical health problems or a really bad day mentally.

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E is for Exercise

This blog is originally from The Pandora Box Gift Company, A-Z on mental health series

There are a few things we can try to do to keep our mind and body in shape and exercise is definitely one of them. Not only does it give you something to do, it gives your mind a rest, gives you targets that you set and achieve and after a workout you get a release of some lovely endorphins that can help boost your mood, even if it’s just for a little while. Do it regularly and exercise is a great way to keep you healthy and give your life a simple routine.

There’s so many different aspects and ways to exercise, it’s hard to not find something that you might enjoy. I’ve gone through different types of sports and activities that I’ve tried in the past or am currently attempting. There’s also links to websites that have great information about the different types of exercise and challenges that give you something to train and aim for. Having that challenge as an end goal gives you something to focus on and an excuse to keep going, even when you don’t feel like it.

Walking

Going for a walk is great if you need some space or time out to think things through. It doesn’t require much preparation to do it, just some comfortable shoes and appropriate clothing for the weather. You’d be surprised what you can find when you walk around your neighbourhood.

Thinking of going for longer walks? Walking for 6-7 hours is a great way to pass the day, especially when the weather is great. To do this you will need some walking boots and walking sticks to help you get further. I did some long walks in preparation for a 100km walking challenge and found that it was a great thing to do on a day off. It got me out of the house and made me feel like I was achieving something.

Challenges to train for:

100km London2Brighton challenge: http://www.london2brightonchallenge.com/

Thames Path Challenge (Anywhere from 25 to 100km): http://www.thamespathchallenge.com/

Running

I’m not much of a runner myself, but I have to admit after doing it for a couple of months it does get quite therapeutic. There’s always the point you reach a couple of minutes after starting where your mind and body just want to quit. Once you learn to get past that point you start to relate the same things to your mood. You learn that with the right thoughts and determination eventually you can get over something or push through it. Running takes a bit more preparation. You need trainers and clothes that you don’t mind sweating in and a good idea of the route you want to take (or a gym with a treadmill!). I find it’s a lot easier to run when you know where you want to go. It’s very easy to constantly stop and take unnecessary breaks when you don’t know where you’re going.

Websites to help:

Couch to 5k is a great way to get into running if you’ve not tried it before or have tried but failed (like me!): http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx

Challenges to train for:

5 or 10km run: http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/index.html

Fancy running 26 miles? The London Marathon: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/

Weight training

I am loving doing a bit of weight training! I’ll be honest, the idea of doing it used to scare me and I was put off by going into “that” section of the gym because I found it quite intimidating. Lucky for me I have a gym buddy that makes me feel confident enough to go in there. Over the past three months I have been slowly increasing the amount I can lift, and with that I’m getting stronger and can do things that I couldn’t previously, (Press ups! Woop). Not only do you increase your strength but it’s also a great cardio workout as well. To get into it, I started doing bicep curls with quite a small weight that I found easy to handle and then branched out onto the different weight training machines at the gym and other exercises that use dumbbells.

Websites to help:

Bodybuilding.com has great tutorials on which exercises you need for what you want to achieve as well as introductions to weight training and how to do it. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/training.html

This website provides great pictures on how to do different exercises: http://www.weight-training-exercises.com/

Challenges to train for:

5k Pretty Muddy: http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/types-of-event/pretty-muddy/index.html

Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest: http://www.mhsurvival.co.uk/

Tough Mudder: https://toughmudder.co.uk/

Kickboxing

Something that I definitely need to get back into and would recommend to everyone. Kickboxing is great if you need to release some stress or anger. It’s great fun and a great workout that helps with your co-ordination, strength and confidence. You may be surprised just how good you feel after hitting those pads!

Cycling

Good for those whose knees are a bit weak or want strong leg muscles! I’ve had to do a lot of cycling to make my legs stronger to help my knees out. You can choose to go on a nice long cycle on a low gear with minimal effort, or you can go on a quick cycle on a much higher gear for an intense workout. If you cycle outside, it’s a great way to find some excellent places that you may not have known about before. Inside the gym, I find it’s a great as a warm up for the session ahead or a nice place to read a book whilst you go on a slow long cycle.

Challenges to train for:

Coast to Coast: http://www.globaladventurechallenges.com/uk/uk-coast-to-coast-cycle/

London to Paris: http://london2paris.co.uk/

Obviously the list of exercises don’t end there and there are plenty of other challenges available. If you’re thinking of starting something new, look up information about the local area. You’d be surprised how many sports groups and activities take places. One great website that connects people with other like minded people is http://www.meetup.com/. Once you sign up you have access to a wide variety of activities and sporting agendas!

If you’re looking for a gym to go to, I recommend The Gym , http://www.thegymgroup.com/. You can either buy a day pass for around £6 or join for a monthly fee. For me they were the cheapest I could find, open 24 hour and you can freeze your monthly payments if you’re running low on cash.

If you’re feeling anxious about going to a new place, try taking someone you know along with you. If you can’t find someone, don’t worry. Lots of people go by themselves and feel anxious about it but after a while you will wonder why you ever had a problem as you start to fit into the routine of going. So, what are you waiting for 🙂