The fastest way to a mental health + happiness refresh (imho)

I'll precede this blog post by saying I'm not talking about clinical depression or severe mental illness, but there are times when we start to feel really discontented with our lives and just annoyed/jealous/resentful/depressed in general. Particularly as mothers/parents. So I wanted to share this post of the things that have helped me immensely get to a more healthy mental state and just reboot some areas of my life (hello creativity).

1. Delete Instagram off your phone

Go on, I dare you, and I promise you'll be shocked at how little you miss. Your thumb will absently try to scroll through that addictive little app about 50 times per day but eventually it will remember that there's nothing there and your clear, independent brain will feel so good.

If you need IG for your business, I'd suggest scheduling a time each day (or 2 times, of 5 mins each) to jump on and upload your own photos without idly browsing through everyone else's. If you need to comment on other people's photos to build your brand/following, challenge yourself to do it within 5 mins and be very intentional about it. E.G you could say I need to upload 1 quality photo per day and comment/like 10 others. Then I turn the app off, or even UNINSTALL it (not as crazy as it sounds - it's like 2 taps of your thumb to get it back) until my next posting window. And uninstall on weekends so you don't automatically open instagram every time you sit on the toilet and I KNOW that's not just me.

2. Stop thinking about looking perfect.
This is an extension of #1. We live in a world that has a real side and a heavy virtual side, and the virtual side is 100% represented by either photos or videos. Which we know in our brains is not real life, but we have visual memories so when we see people looking perfect showing their "day in the life" professionally photographed perfection and it looks nnnnoooooothing like our own day in the life, it still grates, and we don't realise that we are feeling annoyed with our own ugly imperfect messy surroundings because we are subconsciously comparing everything we see and do with a fake 'perfect' version of it.

People have to create attractive content to earn their place on the internet. I do it, everyone who wants to use their blog or social media as a platform to build a brand on (whether now or in the future) does it. It's ok to do it. But when you feel stink about yourself, it's time to stop looking at everyone else's content and give your brain a few weeks to adjust to not thinking "will this make a good instagram picture?" every time you are recording a memory.

I am so stoked with this photo above, it's from a fun day this week and gives me all the happy vibes. But it wouldn't be deemed professional enough to make lifestyle-blogger or instagrammer content.

3. On that note, stop reading those blogs you've read for years.
Including this one if it comes to that!
I started reading blogs years ago before I started my own. I've been so inspired by other people on the internet: recipes, craft ideas, home decor, health tips... yada yada. But when I really sat back and assessed the situation, I read blogs daily because I feel like a slave to it. I develop a weird sense of caring for these people I've never met. I feel like we are friends because they write so well and share their life on the internet.... but the truth is they don't know me or care about me, and you know what, I'm not obligated to read their blog every day if it's taking up precious time or making me feel dissatisfied with my life.

I've 'met' a lot of bloggers online who I would definitely look up if I was in their part of the world, and hope to connect in person. That would be fun. But if you are missing out on your own real life because you are reading someone else's only-the-good-bits life, something's not right.

4. You don't have to be inspired all the time.
Truth: Pinterest saps my creativity dry. 
Looking at other people's fitness story photos makes me jealous after a momentary "I could do that!" excitement that fades quickly in the reality of exercise and strict diets.
Seeing a beautiful house I want so badly but can't have makes me feel discontented with my home.
I could go on.

Point is, "inspiration" is an over-used word in our generation and you actually don't need to be inspired most of the time. If you give your brain a one-week break from all "inspiration" I promise you will start to feel refreshed and begin feeling inspired all on your own. 

5. Journal sometimes.
But only when you feel like it, or the guilt defeats the purpose.
When you need to get your feelings out, you can do it into your journal instead of onto the internet or into another person's ears. These could be negative or positive feelings. I don't mean it's bad to talk to people - at all! - but it's ok to share things with yourself instead of with the world. In fact, it's better sometimes. I find writing prayers and thoughts out is awesome.

6. Well duh, but, nature.
When I'm in a funk my husband tells me to go outside (ok it happened once) and I feel so much better. Even when it's cold or windy there's something great that happens when you enter a different environment and your brain resets. 
Nature is hardly ever stressful, even in bad weather (I can only think of natural-disaster situations where nature would cause genuine stress) and we're humans. You know, animals. Sometimes I think we need to remember that we don't belong at desks in front of screens, and maybe 95% of our problems would be solved if society could get back being a little more primitive and working with our hands on things that would aid our physical survival (a little foraging, anyone?). 

7. There is beauty in work
Working with my husband this year on things like marketing for our business was never on my radar as something I would enjoy doing. But these days I spend good chunks of time hanging out in our office designing and typing away and you know what, it's oh-so-satisfying. I thought being a housewife and stay-at-home mum/blogger would satisfy all my desires but I'm learning that using my brain for other tasks is SO healthy for me. I feel at least 50 times better about life in general. It's not that I didn't have enough to do before (au contraire!) but that I didn't have something completely different to use my brain on. I remember thinking "I could housewife more. I could meal plan and make soap from scratch. I could do more mum's groups, more coffee catchups, more playdates... but it would be more of the same. A bit of both worlds is feeling really healthy for me at the moment.

8. It's OK to need order.
As long as you can let it go sometimes.
Everything I read says that the key to happiness in your home environment as a mother, is to lower your standards and embrace the mess. Which sounds great except when mess and chaos makes you legitimately depressed or anxious. It's ok to recognise that you need to keep things in order and then structure your routine so that you can make it happen.
And it's ok to flop waaaaaaay off that band wagon and laugh at the slob you have apparently become. (Though we all know it's your kids, not you.)

9. Invite your friends round and then don't clean anything
It's liberating, and they will thank you.

10. Sometimes, have a bath and then go to bed early and read your book with a cup of tea.
You will feel so, so guilty. You will feel like your husband is thinking you are lazy, like your friends are all doing dishes until midnight, like you should at least be pressing buttons on your phone or watching TV or acting busy. This is the time to ask yourself: what do I normally do at this time? And I can almost guarantee the answer is NOTHING important. Nothing you can't miss. If you're not looking at Instagram (see #1) and you've hopefully given up facebook, your brain is free to do something that is actually more productive than all of that. Read something! My fave is historical fiction because I learn so much through people-interest stories but that's my choice. Go to bed as soon as the kids are in bed and the dishes are done and you will feel like you're living the dream.

What have I missed?