There is so much pressure on us these days. Those pressures come from the world around us and from ourselves. As we get caught up in the need for everything to happen quickly, to be successful, to live our lives as fast as we can, to bury our heads in our tech, it's easy to miss the simple pleasures in life.
As a result our mental health can suffer. It can suffer in little ways that we may not really notice or in big ways when our bodies insist that we stop and pay attention to the fact that our life just isn't working and you can't sustain it any longer. Whatever 'it' is.
I completely agree with the increased openness about mental health but I also feel strongly that we need to try our best to keep ourselves healthy mentally. I only realised this because I didn't.
I am now working to take time to enjoy the simple things in life and it goes a long way to making me feel better all round.
One day earlier in January, something happened - it was only small - but it made me really happy. A new keyboard arrived that both solved a problem and made a clackety-clack noise as I type. For some reason, this makes me happy (the clackety-clack still makes me happy!).
It was such a small thing that I might have let it pass unnoticed apart from that fleeting moment of happiness. It came to me that I didn't want to miss out on those moments, to let them pass by and that instead I wanted to take more time to pay more attention to them.
I made an effort for the rest of the month to post a #JoyfulMin every day - well most days. It really made me pay attention and to look back across the day to remember those moments - some were brief, some not but all made my day brighter.
Learning from my borrowed dog Woody
Then yesterday, I wrote a little story yesterday from Woody's perspective. I did it to share with his family so they knew what he did with his day.
As I reread it, I began to see how dogs really do appreciate the simple things in life. They live in the moment. They give it (and you) all they've got and then move on to the next exciting moment in their life. Watching them gives me such joy - their thrill at the wind, the ball, the sea, a treat, whatever comes their way, the fleeting disappointments when that crinkling noise turns out not to be a treat, or the walk ends sooner than they'd like, but they don't dwell on it, they just move on.
Admittedly a dog has most of its cares managed by someone else but still, I think we can learn from them.
My tips to enjoy the simple things are:
Stop and enjoy the world around you before you rush back in
Appreciate the joy in others not just yourself
Give yourself more than one go at stopping. Your brain may not be used to just enjoying. You may need to try several times and allow yourself to just be in the moment
Consciously acknowledge whatever has made you smile or laugh
Revisit a joyful moment at the end of the day and enjoy it again
Put down the phone or your camera and just enjoy it
Don't hide behind the screen.
Absolutely embrace #TimeToTalk about your mental health and those around you. But if you're not experiencing poor mental health now, don't wait until you are, start looking after yourself now.