Home Improvements to help your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are probably spending more time in your home than ever before. As a result, you’ve probably started to pick apart its every flaw, as you are stuck within the same four walls each day. Therefore, you may have decided to make some changes!

With that in mind, here are 5 changes you can make to your home that will make your life easier!

  1. Remove Clutter

Though it can be hard to let go of items we once loved, a cluttered home is never going to look as good as a home that is free of clutter. Therefore, you need to be ruthless. If you no longer use an item, and it does not have a strong sentimental value, donate it to charity or throw it away. 

When you remove clutter from your home, you will feel more organised and focused. It also means you’ll have to clean less – so it is a win-win situation! Furthermore, it also creates the illusion that your home is much larger than it is, giving you plenty of free space to take part in activities such as home workouts and Yoga

(image: Unsplash)


2. Technology

Technology is designed to make your day-to-day life easier, and we now have endless possibilities at our fingertips. As a result, you should make the most of all available technology when renovating your home. For example, if you or a member of your home suffers from mobility issues, then why not install a stairlift or platform lift? Terry Lifts are on hand to answer any questions you might have about their lifts, and can help with every step of the process – form installation to lift maintenance, so be sure to get in touch with them to find out more!

You can also make use of technology on your mobile phone, by installing remote control light bulbs. This means you never have to get out of your warm bed to turn off the light ever again, you can simply tap a few buttons on your phone!

Making home improvements to boost your mental health is so important now we are spending more time at home.



This article was written by a freelance writer.

Moving to Another Country: Are you Escaping Your Past and Emotional Baggage?

(image: Pexels)

Readers of this blog know all too well that life can sometimes take a turn for the worse at times. You can start the year with high hopes, only for things to go catastrophically wrong later on. 

Many people go through tough times and wonder whether upping sticks and moving away might help. They think that moving to a new country will give them a fresh start and allow them to leave the past behind where it belongs and move forwards with their lives. 

But is that really what happens? Well, it depends. 

Seeing The New Location As A Fresh Start

One type of person sees moving to a new country as a blank slate – a fresh start. They’re not the kind of person who spends all night getting angry about what went wrong in the past. Instead, they accept what happened and choose to move forward with their lives. They never look back. 

This type of person can get on well with moving to another country. The change of location isn’t the important thing. That’s just a backdrop. The primary decision is to take control of one’s life and move forwards. When you go to another country, you’re proving to yourself that you can make major life changes, and you have control over your life. You’re no longer tethered to a situation in your home country. You’re free to conduct your business as you choose. Self-mastery is the name of the game. 

When you go to a new location with this mindset, it colours everything that you do. It’s a decision you’ve made. And so it feels like you have ownership over the situation. Even though things have been tough, you’re moving on with your life and doing the things you have to do to reestablish control. It feels natural and healthy. You’re a master of your destiny. Moving away has nothing to do with trying to escape the negatives. It’s about embracing the positives. You look for a studio apartment for rent, and you start a new life. It can be a challenge, but it’s also a heck of a lot of fun. 

Seeing The New Location As An Escape

But there’s a dark side to moving to another country. If you think moving is a way to escape how you feel, you’re sadly mistaken. You might be living in a different apartment building in a foreign country, but that doesn’t mean that your memories and feelings disappear. Yes – you might find yourself in a totally different culture. But that’s pretty much irrelevant if you’re bringing all the same feelings and emotional baggage with you. 

Seeing the new location as an escape is a trap. You think that by moving, you’re doing something to alleviate your experience. But that’s not what’s happening. Instead, you’re changing location and dragging all the old feelings with you. It’s not moving that gives you the sense that you’re escaping your problems – it’s taking control. When you feel like you have some sort of autonomy, that gives you the mental space to create a life for yourself on your own terms. 

But if you’re feeling homesick and still thinking about your country of origin, that’s a recipe for depression. You’re not looking forward – you’re looking back. And you inevitably feel hopeless and futile. 

Your World Becomes A Lot Bigger

Moving countries should be about making your world bigger. It can help you to leave your past behind, but it is not all that’s required. You can move to another country, but if you don’t process what happened to you, then you’re not really leaving your problems behind. Paying different government taxes is no substitute for emotional understanding. 

When you allow your move to fill your life with new opportunities, things suddenly become more clarified. Everything opens up, and you’re suddenly able to pick a direction and go with it. It can be a frightening experience sometimes, but it is essential for living a rich and fulfilling life. 

Usually, people leave their country of origin to escape past unhealthy relationships. Going abroad offers a degree of safety. But it also takes you out of a dysfunctional network of friends and family. You’re able to breathe the free air and start afresh. You’re no longer tied down to a particular social group. And you don’t have to observe its traditions or customs. It’s a liberating experience. 

Sometimes, that feeling alone is sufficient to make the move worthwhile. But, ultimately, that’s a choice that you need to make. The question of whether you should go to another country is a personal one.


This article was written by a freelance writer.

15 Ways to Turn Your Home into a Self Care Sanctuary: by ImproveNet

Mental health plays a critical role in our lives, and self-care is an important aspect of our mental well-being. Self-care encompasses any activity we undertake to improve our emotional, mental and physical health. 

Make Your Home a Calmer Place

  1. Declutter and organize; donate or throw out what you don’t need
  2. Paint walls with calming colours — blue, green and pink are peaceful
  3. Cover walls with your favorite artwork, photos or inspirational posters
  4. Welcome plants into your life; greenery helps us feel more relaxed
  5. Light candles with soothing scents: lavender, citrus, pine, vanilla, jasmine
  6. Add essential oils to a diffuser; valerian, lavender, jasmine relieve anxiety
  7. Open blinds to natural light, purchase warm-toned bulbs, add dimmers
  8. Purchase soft, comfortable bedding to make you feel cozy and protected
  9. Weighted blankets have been proven to help ease stress and anxiety

Make Yourself More Comfortable

  1. Dress comfortably at home; PJs, a robe or cozy socks are relaxing
  2. Give yourself a home spa treatment with face mask, cooling gel, etc.
  3. Enjoy a long soak in the tub; add Epsom salts to relax muscles 
  4. Take care of your skin by exfoliating, dry brushing and moisturizing 
  5. Consider meditation, deep breathing or yoga to decrease stress
  6. Get plenty of exercise at home: stretch, dance, run on a treadmill

94% of Millennials reported making personal improvement commitments in 2015. Compare this with Boomers at 84% and Gen X at 81%. 

This guest blog and infographic was created by ImproveNet.

The Flowers that bloom in Adversity: by Eleanor

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(image: Roxi Roxas Art)

I have wanted to write this post for several weeks, but so much has been going on personally and I have been really emotionally drained (and launching my new business too). Let start at the beginning.

At the end of May, my mother in law (who is carer for my father in law with terminal brain cancer) was taken very unwell. She was rushed to hospital with stroke like symptoms and put into an induced coma on a ventilator as her lungs were collapsing. We were super scared it was Covid as she was shielding anyway and it came completely out the blue, on the day of her 60th birthday after we had celebrated.

She is the main carer for my father in law and so my husband Rob had to move in to their house to care for his Dad and support his brother. (cue frantic phone calls to the doctors surgery, hospitals, Macmillan nurses and Jewish Care, all done by my incredible husband).

Thankfully, my MIL came off the ventilator to breathe unaided and she tested negative for Covid 19. We think she caught a severe bacterial infection and she then got pneumonia in her lungs. She was in hospital for 4 weeks and discharged 2 weeks ago and is making amazing progress with her physio team and her speech. She is still frail but she is recovering slowly.

This blog post I don’t want to make about my in laws because they are private people. Dealing with all these scary changes has been tough on my mental health (and everyones).

We are slowly slowly coming out the other side, although we know my FIL will worsen in time due to the nature of his illness.

So what flowers are blooming during this adversity?

-On Saturday will be our first wedding anniversary and we will spend it together. Its been a rollercoaster year but I am so thankful to have Rob by my side!

-I am loving my new Body Shop at Home business and my team and incredible managers. It really has been keeping me sane throughout this time of family lockdown and I can’t thank Sarah Cardwell enough for introducing me to the business. The products are so good for self care and healing too, which has been so needed and I have made lots of new friends. It keeps my mind stimulated and earns me income too- I am so grateful.

-Yesterday, Robs kind family member went over so we could spend some proper quality time together (thank you). We went for a walk in our favourite little village near by where there are cottages and flowers and village green and pond- I took lots of pictures of my dream cottages and gardens. Then, we got vanilla chocolate milkshakes (first time in a café post lockdown) and visited family. It was so special just to have US time, so rare in this current time for our family.

-This blog is continuing to grow and turning into a side business and for that I am ever grateful. I am also loving sharing peoples personal stories and hope it is a useful resource.

-Our guineapigs Midnight and Nutmeg are a source of joy and give great cuddles.

-Friends and familys kindness and messages help so much. I havnt had a therapy session in a while but will do.

I am feeling positive but there will be rough days ahead in the coming months. Today though, I am enjoying slightly more calm and peace again before the potential storm, and watching the flowers that are blooming in adversity.  

 

Best Ways to Redecorate your Bedroom to improve Mental Health: Guest blog by Rosette.

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(image: Pinterest)

In recent years, mental health has been in the spotlight because society has been starting to learn about how important it is. This is welcomed progress, as more people are now educating themselves and looking for ways to help themselves achieve good mental health. Amidst your search, you will find that small things can help, such as redecorating your room.

Creating your own space is a good opportunity to check on your well-being. Your environment has an effect on your mood and emotions. Arranging and fixing what surrounds the place where you spend most of your time at home is a simple way of focusing on yourself especially in times when you need to do so.

In times where you need to take a break and rest your mind, your room is the nearest place you can go to. If you’ve been feeling down, mentally exhausted, or feeling some unrest, how about you tweak your own space a little?

Here are the best ways to redecorate your room to improve mental health:

 

Declutter

If your room is messy, it’s highly likely that you haven’t done some organising in a while. I know some people like the way their room is arranged, but let’s face it, it’s a good feeling when clutter is taken away from your own space. A simple step to take to reorganise your thoughts is to reorganise your room. At times when you feel confused, try decluttering. Get rid of the stuff that you don’t need and save your brain from the distraction that a mess creates.

 

Let the light in

The amount of light inside your room also affects your mood. Research suggests that sunlight is thought to reduce stress and to relax the body. Keeping your space in tune with the natural rhythms of the day aids the body in maintaining the circadian clock, our internal 24-hour clock that keeps our sleep and wake cycles running regularly and smoothly. 

So move your curtains aside and open your windows to allow some natural light in your room. In addition, make sure that your curtain set lets you see the sun and if not, you can search for a DIY hardware store around your area where you can purchase the parts that you need.

Display a centerpiece that will lighten up your mood

There is something about seeing something as a centerpiece of a room that affects how you feel. A focal point inside your own space gives off the vibe that you would want to feel once you enter it. According to author Stephanie Roberts, creating a focal point that makes you happy will help you feel relaxed from the get-go. Display something that does that in your bedroom where you tend to always tend to look so you can always see it.

 

Get plants

Houseplants have been linked to many psychological benefits including reduced anxiety and lower blood pressure. In addition to that, plants also remind you of self-care and can give you an appreciation of the little things. Watering plants is like a reminder to take good care of yourself, while watching it grow makes you feel a sense of accomplishment and that the simple stuff that you do matters.

 

Make a useful layout

You should not feel lost in your room. It should be easy to navigate and see where everything is. Moreover, designate space for the stuff that you do. Declutter to find space for a desk where you can use your electronic devices at. Using your phone or laptop on your bed can interrupt your sleep cycle. Design everything to optimise your hours of rest separated from the other activities that you do inside your room and place items where it needs to be.

Wrapping up

Redecorating your room benefits your mental health and helps you feel calmer, while you are decorating and with the finished result. It’s a great way to build positive thought patterns and reduce stress. It also proves that we should not overlook the simple and normal tasks for they can serve as a form of  small therapy for when we need it the most.

 

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Author’s Bio:

Rosette has a knack for anything DIY. She spent her younger years learning about the different hardware tools and equipment in the hopes of establishing a hardware business in the future. Her career options may have changed, but today, she continues to write so passionately about her first love.

Bamboo sheets- A potential cure giving better quality sleep and less Anxiety at night.

 

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(image: Cosy House Collection)

With around 33% of people getting less than the recommended amount of sleep (less than 7 hours), many have turned to using bamboo sheets as a way to cool them down in the warmer months and reduce sleep stress and anxiety.

We are all getting worse quality sleep year-on-year, no doubt impacted by the intense box sets we watch on Netflix just before bed, blue light coming from our phones, ongoing stress and money woes.

The start-up and tech industry is seeing a wave of new inventions to help with sleep, from cooling pyjamas, weighted blankets, noise defenders and sleep monitoring apps.

However, one of the latest products to win over sleepers is bamboo sheets and pillow cases. This soft and light fabric is quickly being the first choice over traditional cotton or linen.

Bill Fish, the co-founder of sleep resource, Tuck, explains: “Our first choice when looking for breathable sheets is linen. It tends to be cooler than cotton, but more importantly the quality of the fabric can look and feel good for years to come. If you are looking for eco-friendly breathable sheets, bamboo is an excellent choice. It is hypoallergenic, and also feels gentle to the touch.”

Bamboo, made from the bamboo plant, is known for being light, comfortable and its properties are soft and breathable. Being thermo-regulating, bamboo works by keeping cool in the heat, and staying warm in the cold, making it perfect for summer and winter and something that you can use all year around.

The breathability of bamboo should help those with stress and anxiety, which is unsurprisingly the leading cause of insomnia.

In addition to helping people sleep through temperature control, bamboo sheets are hypoallergenic and can help produce better quality sleep by reducing stuffiness of the nose and head.

Bamboo sheets and pillow cases may not be the full answer for a bad night sleep or ongoing sleep issues – however, it is should certainly be seen as way you can optimise your sleep and living surroundings, in addition to the right lighting and avoid using your phone before bed.

Other notable methods to improve sleep quality including avoiding caffeine and alcohol up to 8 hours before you go to sleep, adjusting the light in your room, reviewing your mattress or speaking to a Doctor for professional advice.

Bamboo sheets are available from Cosy House Collection for less than $60 (£50) and includes one fitted sheet, flat sheet and 2 pillow cases.

This blog was written by Cosy House Collection for quality luxury yet affordable home essentials.

The UK went into Lockdown and I went into Meltdown: Guest blog by Nicole

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(image: Nicole_no_filter)

The UK went into lockdown and I went into meltdown.

When I heard the announcement on the news, I was on my Mum’s sofa and I immediately felt the usual sick way that I do when I get anxious. I needed to get out of the house, so I quickly escaped on a walk with my dog. My thoughts were far from pleasant and I silently cried while I slowly paced around my local area. This marked the start of a tough couple of weeks.

I fell into the behaviours that you would probably expect from a person with anxieties, I was obsessed with updates on the lockdown, it became my most frequently searched term on Google! My skin condition, urticaria, flared up which happens when I experience stress. My sleeping got worse than usual and I was easily irritated by silly things. Most of all, I fixated on the negatives of my situation, such as the impact living alone would have on me.

I’m not going to pretend that I had an epiphany on day fifteen and I’m now thriving in my new life of one daily walk and it being a glam day if I put on jeans!

However, I’ve now established a flexible routine and I’ve settled into working from home.

I check the news once a day and I appreciate that I am lucky to be healthy and still have my job. However, I don’t give myself a hard time when I have a bad day and I don’t pay attention to unhelpful comments online, criticising people for struggling as there are others with more serious struggles. Of course, this is true, but I heard recently that, ‘you wouldn’t tell someone not to be happy, because there is someone happier’ and that has stuck with me ever since.

The most positive outcome of this situation for me, is that I am in touch with my thoughts, emotions and my behaviour, more than ever.

Some things that have helped me are:

  • Reawakening my passion for writing: As a Careers Coach, I regularly create resources and assist others with writing about themselves. However, it had been so long since I wrote for pleasure. I now record my thoughts in a journal, you are currently reading my second blog post and I rediscovered my love for writing poems. Writing has felt a bit like offloading to my best friend; I get out my thoughts and I then feel better. 

 

  • Walking: I think it’s amazing that so many people are focusing on their fitness, but I was previously anxious about my weight, so I don’t put pressure on myself to follow a rigid exercise routine. Pre-lockdown, when I had a crap day, I benefitted from getting out of the house and being around others; walking isn’t a substitute for this, but it helps me to get rid of negative energy by doing something active. 

 

  • Keeping my space tidy: This won’t work for everyone but a clear space, means a clearer mind for me. I also find cleaning quite therapeutic as it helps me to focus on the task in hand and not overthink. 

 

  • Paying it forward: I have been trying to spread some positivity remotely, for example, I suggested to my colleagues that we each send a card to another person in the team with a positive message. I also started an Instagram account to raise awareness of mental health and share experiences and strategies with others. As a people person, helping and connecting with others always lifts my mood. 
  • Revisiting coping mechanisms for anxiety: I have done a lot of research into cognitive behaviour therapy techniques over the last few years, as some of the principles are useful for my job in supporting young people. I have also personally been through this type of therapy; this helps me to reframe negative thoughts and therefore gain better control of my feelings and actions. 

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I still regularly think that I can’t wait for this to be over! I miss the little things in my life, but the lockdown has caused me to have a deeper appreciation for all the good aspects of it.

I have also realised that the little things ARE the BIG things. Being forced into this situation that I have no control over, has helped me to put less focus on other things that I can’t control.

I was previously anxious about being single as I am about to approach my 30th birthday, but I have gained a more positive perspective on this. I may not be able to control what happens TO me, but I can control what is IN me, which are my thoughts and how they make me feel and react.

Nicole is a careers coach and freelance writer in the UK and is on Instagram @nicole_no_filter

Stuck in Self-Isolation? Here Are Some Simple But Useful Home DIY Projects: Guest blog by Brandon Smith

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(image : Paper Mart Blog)

With the world in turmoil right now and lots of cities across the world closed, many of us are stuck in self-isolation at home. Why not start a DIY project?

With the sun coming out quite a lot over the last few weeks across many parts of the UK, and government guidelines only allowing limited travel, now is the time to make use of being at home.

Not all B&Q, Homebase and other hardware outlets are open across the country, but most companies offer online delivery of any product you would need to buy for a project. 

Why not also involve some of the people who live with you? If you have small children and you’ve decided to spruce up the garden, then why not place a table outside so they can paint their garden while you work on yours?

Here are some simple home DIY projects you can do while at home under lockdown:

 

Make a Sharpie Mug

This is a quick and easy one for the children. Buy a handful of plain mugs from your local supermarket, along with a few Sharpie permanent markers (choose different colours if you like). Then, draw or write your design on the mug and pop in the oven at 175oC for 30 minutes. Once cooled, your self-made mug is yours to use and keep!

 

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(image: Pinterest)

Paint the Garden Fences

It’s usually a job left until the Summer, but getting outside in the Sun is good for vitamin D levels and being in the sunlight helps to boost our mood and immune system. Painting the garden fences is a simple DIY project, but once you’ve completed it the satisfaction looking at a job well done and ticking off another box on your list of Summer jobs is sure to make you feel better about being indoors.

 Simple Custom Shelves

You don’t need a fancy kit when it comes to building some shelves indoors. All you need is some wood, brackets, a saw and a cordless drill/driver. This is a one or two-person job, and it won’t take you all day, but putting up some shelves will help with storage (whether in the kitchen, living room or bathroom). Be sure to use the right tools for your project! If you’re unsure about saws and drilling, there are many resources such as hints, tips and full guides available online.

Mosaic CD Mirror

Want to add a bit of a wow factor to a mirror in your hallway? Take an old mirror or order a cheap one online (eBay or Facebook marketplace usually have some) and put a frame around it that has a good 3 to 4 inches space. Then, cut up a bunch of old CDs (preferably ones that don’t have lots of scratches on them) with some plastic scissors or toughened kitchen ones, cover the pieces with glue (like Copydex you used in school) and stick them to the frame. Once it’s done, you’ll see an abundance of colour and reflections when it’s on the wall.

Firefly Night Lanterns

The is super simple, and the kids will love them. You should order the following from your favourite online retailer:

  • Glow sticks (one for each jar)
  • Glitter
  • Large jam or marmalade jars (or use some of the empty ones in the cupboard)

Take a glow stick, cut the top off and empty the contents into the jar, then sprinkle in some glitter. Attach the lid and seal. Shake the jar so that all of the materials are distributed. Then, either close all of the curtains in your front room or wait until it goes dark outside, and you’ve got a night lantern with fireflies in. The children will love them.

Window Shutter Mail Holder

We don’t tend to use window shutters all that much in the UK, but they are common in the rest of Europe. You’d think that means they are hard to get a hold of, but used ones can be found on marketplaces like eBay. Once you have one, take the shutter and sand it down. Then, paint with whatever colour you want and allow to dry. Depending on the shutter, paint colour and type of paint used, you might need more than one or two coats.

Then, drill some holes in the wall and fix the shutter to the wall with raw plugs and screws. All of your mail that the postman brings can be put into the slots, and everyone can see who each letter is addressed to – a great way to show the children where mail can go when it comes in the post.

 

Body Pillow

If you have children, then you’ll be spending a lot of time doing fun things while at home. And, for many families, this involves some relaxing in the front room.

When shopping in one of the larger supermarkets, pick up some cheap pillowcases and stuffing, Or you can buy some pillows. If buying pillows, you’ll need four pillowcases and the filling from two pillowcases for one body pillow.

When you get home, lay out the pillowcases as you would if you were using them to sleep on: placing them next to each other on the floor to create a caterpillar. Fill the pillowcases with the stuffing or pillow material and stitch up the sides. Then, sew the pillowcases together to create your body pillow.

 

Being stuck at home all day doesn’t mean you need to sit there doing nothing or watching multiple episodes on Netflix while also feeling bored and drained. It’s important to take control of your mental health and well-being and keep yourself busy with activities that bring comfort and joy. Try some of the DIY projects above and let me know how you get on.

 

Brandon Smith is an Editor at TheSawGuy.com – a woodworking & DIY resource for everything from comparing the best table saws and miter saws, down to home and garden project

Life under Lockdown: Keeping yourself busy at home: Guest blog by Chloe Walker

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(image: https://www.cottagesforcouples.com/)

As Covid-19 continues to spread and the world scrambles to stay a step ahead, many of us are finding ourselves isolating at home in unprecedented circumstances. All around the world governments are increasingly ramping up safety measures to protect both their medical staff and their most vulnerable citizens.

As we all adapt to a new and still rapidly changing world, there are challenges to our wellbeing, financial security and even mental health.

On the other hand, many people are now realising that life in lockdown offers many unique advantages. Just because you’re self-isolating or social distancing, it doesn’t mean that life has to be put on hold completely. In fact, now could well be the time to capitalise on the extra time spent at home to do things that otherwise would have taken the back seat.

Here are a few ideas for ways to make sure your time under quarantine is spent wisely.
Get your garden ready for spring

In the UK, the first glorious days of spring have appeared, reminding us all that there’s plenty to be grateful for. Warmer and brighter days lure us outside again after a long winter. If your garden needs some love, put on your wellies and know that a little outdoor work could do wonders for stress levels.

Gardeners know that work in the yard is never really finished. Still, avoid mowing your lawn too short for now. According to mowing specialists Mowers Online, “As the growing season starts selecting the blade height to 50mm will give optimum grass blade thickness which is crucial for growth. This height may seem rugged at first but remembering that grass blades are solar panels for the lawn and the more energy created, the more luscious the lawn.”

Finding time to garden during the Spring will keep you occupied, physically active and out there getting essential vitamin D.

Try some spring cleaning

In the same spirit, why not use the longer, brighter days to inspire you to clean up a little? If you’re now working from home, you may find yourself with extra time on your hands – and the opportunity to get around to all those deep cleaning jobs that have accumulated over the year.

Lift your spirits by clearing away clutter, reorganising drawers and cupboards, shampooing the carpets or cleaning the windows. The lockdown will end eventually, and you’ll really appreciate a bright and shiny home to see you through the challenges that will come with getting back to work again.
Bring a little of the outdoors indoors

It’s now well understood that nature has an incredible ability to relax us and boost mental wellbeing. As most of us try to manage the inevitable stresses the coronavirus has brought with it, we can turn to nature to recalibrate, de-stress and remind ourselves of what’s important.

Even if it’s gloomy outside, bring a little nature indoors to get the benefits. Stonehouse Furniture suggest ‘‘A window box on the outside is a great way to add a splash of colour to your day as you do mundane kitchen chores. Spring bulbs, miniature daffodils, polyanthus and summer bedding plants are a very cheap way to add nature and colour to your kitchen outlook.’’
Enjoy cooking
Now’s the time to get in touch with your domesticity! There’s more time now than ever to really relish the joys of preparing fresh, healthy, home-cooked meals for your family. With grocery shop orders being a little unpredictable, you likely have a stock of ingredients on hand anyway. Why not get creative and try some new recipes you were always too busy to attempt before, or concoct your own meals? Rope in the family for some quality time cooking together, and experiment with different daily routines.

Can’t find your usual ingredients in the store anymore? Accept the challenge and eat something a little more exciting and out of your culinary comfort zone. Have too much fresh food on your hands? Try batch cooking and then freeze the extra food for emergencies.

It may at first seem limiting to have to stay at home, but use your imagination and reframe staying at home as a great opportunity instead. Get stuck into that hobby you’ve always put off, or flex your creativity with painting, poetry, crafts or knitting. Stay fit indoors by doing yoga or YouTube workouts, enjoy your pets, or have your own mini party in the living room with your favourite music. Films, books and musical instruments are your friends right now.  Keep in touch with your literal friends online, or get out some board games to play with the family.

The coronavirus has challenged us all to prioritize what’s truly essential: our mental and physical wellbeing. Take this opportunity to reconnect with yourself, with nature, and with those you love, and you’ll soon wonder why you don’t spend more time at home!

This blog was written by freelance writer Chloe Walker, who is based in the UK.  

‘The Meaning of Normal’: Living with a sibling with mental illness : Guest post by Shira

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(image: Thought Clothing)

It hasn’t been normal for so long that sometimes I forget what normal should feel like. When I try to think about it, it feels like a glimpse into someone else’s life, and I am an invasive stranger, trying to reach something that doesn’t belong to me.

What is normal?

Sometimes I think I remember it.

Sometimes I think that normal is that time when I was six and you were three and we didn’t fight. When we played hand in hand like every other child, and our entire world was pink and purple, and the most important thing to us was that our dolls had shiny blonde hair.

And we would play every game under the sun, from barbies to dollhouse to the convoluted imaginary ones that only we knew the rules to, and even then did we ever really know the rules?

I was a witch and you were the princess. We were both witches. We were both princesses. I stole your magic time machine but you found another one, and our living room became the entire universe as we ran through it, believing wholly in the pictures we created, the way that only children can.

But did we ever really exist like that? Were we ever those idyllic children, the children that every parent wishes to have?

Maybe our normal is all the times when I was ten and you were seven and we would push and shove and slap. You were my younger sister who could do no wrong and I was the older one, always blamed for both our shares of misdemeanours.

“You should know better!” They would shout

“But she started it!” I would pout.

“It’s not true!” your bottom lip would stick out.

I think we all know that I probably did start it.

We would fight and yell and cry and shout, never giving in, never admitting that we were wrong. Because we weren’t wrong. We were both right, all the time, every time, and the other was always painfully mistaken. And we roared and yelled and scratched each other, but knew only to cry when a parent was looking. And if nobody was looking, well then nobody would see if we punched back just one more time.

But were we ever really like this? Two demonic screaming children who were never silent and never content with just each other? Were we really the children that every parent dreads to have?

Maybe our normal is the way we grew apart as we grew older. When I was 15 and you were 12 and I would pretend not to know you as I walked past you in school. And maybe our normal is the way we would come home from the same school at the same time separately, both of us walking different routes from the bus because being seen with one another would be unacceptable. Maybe that’s what all teenagers do. Maybe that really was our normal.

Maybe our normal was what came next.

Maybe the years we didn’t talk to each other was what we were always heading towards. Because one day we would put down the dolls, and one day we would run out of things to fight about and we would just…exist.

One next to the other.

Sitting in silence.

Neither speaking.

Neither bothering to reach out first.

Because now I’m 18 and you’re 15 and I don’t remember the last time I spoke to you. The house is thick with anger, so thick that it poisons every interaction, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m angry about. Because the sister I played with, the sister I happily fought with but would jump on anyone else who dared fight with her is in pain. So much palpable pain, and for the first time I couldn’t just make it go away.

Was I angry with you?

Yes.

Was I angry with myself?

Yes.

And so I let this become our normal. A normal where two siblings exist side by side, but don’t even know how to speak without offending. Where everything I say hurts you and everything you say angers me.

So we made this our new normal.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t.

I care.

And now I’m 20 and you’re 17 and I’m 3000 miles away. But this is our normal now. We don’t speak. We can’t speak. But it doesn’t even matter because there’s nothing to speak about anymore. How can I ask how you are when I already know the answer, and I know it’s not an answer I want to hear. How can you ask how I am when you’re too focused on making it through your own day without worrying about mine?

And anyway, it’s been a long time since we told each other how our day was. Not since I was 14 and you were 11 and we would awkwardly walk home from the bus stop together, backpacks moving up and down and up and down as we compared notes about school, neither of us loving it, neither of us willing to admit that out loud.

But we are not those children anymore, and we don’t have any shared experiences to talk about anymore.

I wonder if you miss me like I miss you. I wonder if you count down the days to my birthday too, hoping that we will both make it past 17 and 20, willing time to hurry up even though maybe all I really want to do is turn back the clock.

And then you are 18, and it’s been 18 years since I sat by your tiny cradle in the hospital and cried when we left, maybe because I wanted another chocolate bar from the hospital vending machine, or maybe because secretly I don’t want to leave my baby sister in a cold hospital far far away.

But now you are 18 and I’ve still left you in a hospital far away and it’s still just as hard to leave you there as it was all those years ago. But a 21 year old can’t lie down on the floor and have a tantrum so I keep going and keep going and this is our normal now.

A normal where you’re there and I’m here. A normal where we won’t speak for months on end but then I text you and tell you I miss you and now you answer me too, and I think you miss me too. A normal where we joke and laugh at stupid posts we see on Instagram,  tentatively, both of us till remembering when you were 14 and I was 17 and we ripped each other apart with words until neither of us said anything at all. Is this our normal now?

What is normal?

I looked it up for you.

 

NORMAL:

  • Conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected

 

But who gets to decide what that standard is? How do we know when something that once wasn’t normal now is, and if what was once normal is now anything but? Do we decide that? Or do others who stand by and watch get to decide that for us?

I’m sure someone could tell you the scientific answer. I’m sure there is a video out there with a detailed and meticulous answer laid out for us to study.

I’m sure somebody could tell us the answer. Maybe we haven’t even been normal, maybe we always were.

Maybe the imaginary games of our childhood were always meant to turn into imagined grievances causing real rifts. Maybe we were meant to grow apart and then come back together again, a little rougher but a little kinder. Maybe none of it was normal, or maybe all of it was.

Sometimes I wish I could change all of it. If I hadn’t said what I said that one day, or if I hadn’t slammed my door that one time, or if you hadn’t called me that name under your breath, things would all be different now.

But sometimes I know I can change none of it. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe if we hadn’t played all those games as children, if we had never walked down the road together from school, if I had never sent the texts you eventually answered, things would all be different now.

Normal isn’t for us to decide, it isn’t for me to determine. All I know is our normal is all we have, and I wouldn’t change us for the world.

About:

Shira is a writer living in Israel, drawing on every day life experiences. Her sibling lives with a diagnosed mental illness and she has bravely shared their story here.