As someone who has severe Depression, Anxiety and PTSD among other health issues, the idea of a stress free weekend, is like ‘manna to my mind’. I visualize dipping my toes into tranquil waters, with the coral brushing gently against my weary feet. I envision me letting go of all negativity through a series of single balloons, that I let go one by one, as I feel the demons leave my body and mind. And most of all I crave a comfortable silence, where my mind isn’t chattering nine to the dozen when I try and sleep and instead I lay dreamless, refreshed and vibrant the next morning. Because I was diagnosed so late in life, my struggle with depression and other mental health issues has been a rocky journey and I will be honest with you is something that I deal with on a daily basis. There are days where I try to think of rainbow unicorns and happy sprinkles (as that is my positive mantra) but all that permeates my mind is the dark dank pits of depression, where the shadows cloud my mind and I struggle to stay afloat. There are days where people message me saying ‘well done for overcoming depression’ and I feel like a failure telling them that actually ‘depression and other mental health illnesses’ is not a short term illness and in many cases is something that someone will deal with for the rest of their life.
I believe that it is imperative that we speak out about mental health because while societies knee jerk reaction is to ‘tell us to keep our feelings to ourselves’ by doing so not only can we not achieve a ‘stress free weekend’ but more to the point we will spend our weekdays feeling stressed and overwhelmed too. Whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety or are simply feeling overwhelmed learning how to be kinder to ourselves is no easy feat to manage. In a climate where we are freelancers and are conditioned into working crazy hours to make ends meet, the concept of a ‘weekend’ seems virtually non-existent. After all most weekends, while I do take a small break from social media and from the group I run for Bloggers called Bloggers United, I am still very much working crazy hours, with lengthy photoshoots, scheduling social media, writing blog posts, pitching to brands and clients, doing admin work and so much more. So the concept of a stress free weekend which can detoxify my mind and body is very much alien to me but nevertheless is something I am working on to achieve.
Spend Time Away From Work And Hang Out With Loved Ones
Since my diagnosis, I have learned that I was spending way too much time on my own, which allowed me to not only think negative thoughts about myself but also try and hurt myself too. It wasn’t a question of not having ‘friends per say’ it was more that I would alienate myself from others because A. I was conditioned by my lack of money and had a fear of ‘being without’ and B. because my mental health was so bad that I was worried that if I let other people in they wouldn’t want to be friends with me anymore. And I know that in some cases the breakdown of a friendship or relationship was because of my struggles with depression and sense of self. After all it can be hard to be around someone who will always put themselves down and voice their negative thoughts out loud. I am a lot better at controlling negative thoughts now but as I have stated before, some weeks are better for my mental health than others.
For example, I can have two weeks where I am deliriously happy, then the next two weeks I will shut myself away and not see anyone, envisioning ways to hurt myself and not thinking positive thoughts. But here is the difference, two years ago I would have brushed my feelings to the side and alienate myself from loved ones, as I didn’t want them to be subject to my misery. But now I have realized that spending so much time alone is not good for the mind or soul. While I am more comfortable in ‘one to one settings’ as opposed to group gatherings which make me anxious, even if it is just carving a few days a week to spend time with friends, unless I am in hospital, I make sure that I surround myself with loved ones and take a small break from work. And while I do go to a few resturants most weeks or go to blog events, even though I am technically working, being with friends can help you feel more at ease with your mind. I find that the less time I spend on my own, the better I am with dealing with my mental health.While each case is of course different, generally speaking it is important that we focus on the things that make us happy, whether that be going to dinner dates with friends or hanging out with family, to have a stress free weekend.
Use Essential Oils And Have A Relaxing Spa Day At Home
When was the last time that you had a spa day? Can you remember it? Being slathered in essential oils, while a qualified masseuse kneaded the knots out of your tense shoulders and back? Yeah me neither, in fact before I started blogging, I had only had a spa day twice in my life and I can imagine that for many of you the concept of ‘treating yourself’ to me time is pretty alien. But here is the thing, spa days are quite expensive and for someone who has very little money, unless I am reviewing a spa (HINT HINT) it’s not feasible to get a massage done all the time. Which is where the idea of having a ‘spa day’ at home come in. When I was 11, my foster mum arranged a party for me and some friends, where we would relax in ‘foot soak basins’ that had jets which felt like jacuzzi’s for our feet. We also had our hair braided, our nails painted and had a grand ol’ girly time. But you don’t need to hang out with other people to have a spa day at home; whether it be pouring yourself a relaxing hot bubble bath, with gentle music pulsing through the bathroom or treating yourself to your favourite essential oils.
Speaking of essential oils, no spa day is complete without essential oils to detoxify your mind, body and soul. Whether you use lavender oil to aid better sleeping habits or hemp oil to act as a natural antidote to pain, the benefits of essential oils have been lauded throughout history. In particular hemp oil with coconut extract from Sativatech, has been used to relieve pain, inflammation, anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraines, asthma, epilepsy, glaucoma and gout. Hemp oil might not be as well known as lavender or lemon oil for relieving stress and tension, but did you know that it allows the bodies system to stay in homeostasis which is a state of internal balance? In other words, its gluten free, vegan and Non GMO oil allows the body and mind to relax, which sounds like the perfect recipe for a stress free weekend to me. So why not create a fabulous at home spa experience with all the bath bombs, soaks, oils, scrubs and polishes that you can find, to transform your mind into a rejuvenated oasis?
Focus On Time Management To Schedule Content In Advance And Organize Your Weekdays
I would be the first to admit that being ‘organized’ and managing my time effectively has not always been something that has come naturally to me. After all, pre-blogging I would be stressed out to the max because I was leaving deadlines to the last minute or not priortizing tasks in the right order, which meant that I was often overwhelmed by my workload. Now though, I use spreadsheets to track posts I need to write, clients I need to chase, and have pinned folders in my outlook inbox, which will highlight the most important emails that I need to attend to each day. While some people find that lists help them manage their time, I find that writing everything down in spreadsheets allows me to clearly see what deadlines I need to hit and what potential clients I should reach out to. This idea of a ‘spreadsheet’ to manage my time might not be effective for others, but I find that by having all the information I need for my job in one place, I don’t need to hunt for eons to find the information I am looking for.
While I still get overwhelmed by my workload (after all I have a full time blog, co-run an events company, run a social media group and have freelance work) I have learned in recent months that it is better to ‘priortize paid work’ as opposed to experience days, resturant reviews and more. So I always say to unpaid clients that the turnaroud will be slower than a paid post which I can have scheduled within two days, because I do need to focus on work that will pay my bills. Nevertheless always give your clients that you work with a clear idea of when they can expect content from you-paid or unpaid- to give each other peace of mind, because setting a deadline in place, will help you write content quicker and also schedule content in advance. For example, sometimes when I write a post it might be published the day after, the same day or scheduled a few days in advance, but very rarely do I map out content 5 weeks ahead as I am more of a ‘spontaneous go with the flow type writer’. For others though, scheduling their content far in advance not only helps them have a stress free weekend but also a stress free month as well.
-Prioritize work in order of importance i.e. if you have a blog deadline due the next day, while there might be email admin to do, focus on writing your blog post first, with the relevant social media promotion, as you don’t want to piss off your clients. That is not good for your stress levels.
– Find a time management system that works for you. I mentioned that I use spreadsheets to organize events, meetings, clients, unpaid and paid work and other useful information that enables me to manage my time but for others planners might be more effective. Other useful tools can include using Google Calendar, downloading time management and productivity apps or writing post it notes and sticking them on your wall.
– Consistency is key. On average I blog between 4-5 posts a week and considering the average length of my blog posts are at least 2,000 words, that is approximately 10,000 words that I am scheduling each week, which my audience have come to expect from me. So while there are weeks where I will publish more or less content, having that semi-level of consistency can be difficult to maintain. So in order to have that stress free weekend I would allocate select days for email admin, select days for social media and select days for writing blog posts, so that I am not focusing on too much at same time. Otherwise my brain goes into overdrive and completely shuts down.
Go Outside And Experience The Beauty Of Mother Nature
As a writer, I am sure that many of you would agree that we spend a lot of time indoors, in front of our computer screens which is not only bad for our posture but can also have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing as well. While I wouldn’t say that ‘spending time in the outdoors’ is a cure for depression, what I will say is that not only by being active is your body releasing endorphins which make you feel good and motivated but your vitamin D levels will rise with limited and safe sun exposure. Harvard Studies have shown that ‘natural light’ tends to elevate someone’s mood because when the light hits the skin, it begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. And as someone who has low levels of vitamin D-which is quite common for people who live in the UK- I sure need all the fresh air that I can get. Now that spring has broken and the weather is finally getting a little warmer, the prospect of a fresh spring breeze intermingled with the golden rays of the morning sun, is the perfect recipe for a much needed stress free weekend.
Faded Spring’s Idea Of A Stress Free Weekend In Mother Nature
Pretend You Are A Mermaid And Go To The Beach
As someone who classes herself as a part time mermaid and unicorn, it should come as no surprise that I love the beach. I am not the most talented swimmer by any means but what I do love is swimming gently through open waters, marvelling at the sun as it envelops me in its warming hug. I remember the last time I went to Madeira, before my grandma died, and my Aunt who lives in Madeira (not the one who lives in the UK) used to joke that I was a peixe pequeno or pato (‘little fish or duck’) because while she would lay sunbathing on the beach, I would go swimming and spend most of the day in the sea, before I came out looking like a wrinkled prawn. That being said, while I love going to the beach in the UK, the water is f**king freezing and unless someone grabs me a radiator pronto, I will not be spending 12 hours in the freezing sea. However I love British Beaches for something else entirely and that is for long beautiful walks, where I would collect shells and take pictures of the beach in all its glory.
My foster mum has a caravan down in Whittering, in Sussex and while I was never one for ‘caravanning’, what I did like was its proximity to the beach. I would take my foster sister for long walks in the buggy and we would go to the beach, away from the tourists and through the lush vegetation that grew nearby, marveling at the grand houses that stood like guardians over the sea. And when I found a beautiful shell, I would pop it into my bag, before taking them home and cherishing them like the treasures of the sea that they were.
Other Exciting Outdoor Activities
Have A Lie In And Don’t Worry About Getting Up At The Crack Of Dawn
We often underestimate the power of sleep, especially coming from someone who goes to bed between 3-4 Am most days and sleeps an average of 4-5 hours each night. But without sleep and rest our minds and bodies take longer to heal, and as time goes on we can feel sluggish and unmotivated. Coupled with nausea and cramps, the idea of doing work is not a very attractive prospect to me when I am overtired but due to insomnia there is little else that I can do to get a better nights sleep. I have tried sleeping pills in the past which aggravated my depression and have tried natural remedies and nothing has worked so far. But what I can say is that since blogging full time, I am no longer denying myself a lie in and even if I am not sleeping, just resting will do wonders for my motivation.
And it’s true, a lie in not only makes us feel refreshed and ready to welcome our day with open arms but it also makes the perfect component for a stress free weekend as you are not worrying about running for the train, with your knickers around your ankles nor do you have to suffer the public sentence of someone else’s armpit in your mouth, which BTW NO Thank You. I get that if you are a parent things might be different, after all your idea of a stress free weekend lie in will most likely be interrupted by the fantastic sound of your child bellowing in your ear telling you to get up. Or if you have a cat, you will get the joy of being woken up to a furry blanket on your face, who thinks that it is perfectly normal for you to go around looking like you are wearing a cat as a hat. But even if you are are a parent, you can still have a lay in at least once in your life. Whether its roping in your best friend to have an ‘adult sleepover’ and leave you sleeping until 11 AM or training your cat to be your child’s new babysitter, there is always room for a lie in. While our versions of what constitutes as a lie in might be different, even if its getting an extra half an hour, a little more sleep can do wonders for your mental health and for maintaining a stress free weekend.
Treat Yourself To Things That Make You Happy ( And Don’t Give A S**t What Other People Think)
Here is the T; a good friend of mine forwarded me over a post that essentially trashed millenials and claimed that we shouldn’t be spending money just because we ‘have had a bad day’ or have a date coming up. Sorry, I call bullshit, while we should be doing everything in moderation, if I am feeling depressed and want to buy a dress to make me look and feel good then by all means, I am bloody well going to do it. And if I have a date coming up and want to look like a million bucks then yes you guessed it I will drop a bit of dough. But here’s the real deal, the article basically said that we should be saving all our money for a mortgage and not being entitled., spoiled brats. But do you know what, not only do I rarely make enough money to pay my rent, not only do I quite literally spend all my money on ‘life’ but as a blogger, in exchange for long hours of work I will sometimes get PR Samples (guys they are not fucking freebies please don’t call it that) like clothes, shoes and days out, without payment. But if I was working in a 9-5 and was earning more money, even though I would save, I wouldn’t deny myself the right to treat myself because why the hell not. But I love that my job enables me to partner with my favourite brands, so regardless of my lack of financial stability, blogging might not be the most lucrative of occupations but it is one of the most rewarding.
What I am trying to say is that society has conditioned us into thinking that to ‘spend money’ or even the concept of treating ourselves should be something we should not do when in my eyes we deserve to be treated like fucking kings and queens. And if you are like me and don’t have a lot of money or don’t have financial support, there are other ways that we can treat ourselves. Whether that be as simple as something like painting your nails or watching your favourite shows, please don’t give a s**t about what other people think. Because let me tell you something; it is ok to work hard to be able to afford that designer handbag you have been coveting over the last five months, its ok to treat yourself to a dinner date once a week and most of all its ok to treat yourself to some me time , whether that be meditation or well ya know something a little less… clean.
Go Off The Grid And Have Some Time Away From Social Media
I have a love-hate relationship with social media, while I love the opportunities that brings and being able to cheer on my favourite people, there is a dark side to social media, which as someone who has mental health issues can sometimes find it difficult to deal with. I haven’t spoken about trolling extensively on the blog just yet- watch this space- but it can be discouraging to see comments on my blog ‘telling me to go kill myself’ or have people interact with me online and pretend to be my friend and then when they are in their ‘cliques’ pretend like I don’t exist. Its not nice at all and gives social media a bad name. Yet at the same time, I love the creativity of social media, I love how it enables us to grow as artists and I love to encourage and support others, because watching others shine makes me so happy. But sometimes we all need to take a break from social media and go into the real world, making connections with our loved ones and spending time with our nearest and dearest. Some of my greatest friends are forged through an online community, but its so important that I don’t forget the people who were there before I started blogging, because they mean so much to me as well.
And it’s not just the trolling or horrible comments nor the need to connect with others that makes me feel like I sometimes need a digital detox; my extensive workload and mental health issues mean that sometimes I really just need to go off the grid and zone out, so that I come back in a much calmer and clear minded space. It can all be too easy to compare yourself to others and their success, questioning why you might not be at the same level, and to complain that life is not fair. What you need to remember however is that when it comes to social media, we should not base our ‘success’ on how many followers we have, instead we should look at it as a platform to express our creativity, whether that be through the way we write, the way we capture photos or the way that we interact with others. So for example, while I run a social media group and run social media channels for other people other than myself, I do make sure that I have at least one day, where I limit my ‘social media access’ whether that be through not checking messages on Facebook or leaving emails for a day, it is a much needed technique for my own mental health and state of mind. And trust me, when it comes to having a stress free weekend, nothing feels better than recognizing that A. you don’t need to compare yourself to others, B. we all are unique and should not be comparable to others and C. its ok to need to take time out. We are human at the end of the day.
What Are Your Tips On Having A Stress Free Weekend?
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Please note this a collaborative post with Sativatech but all thoughts and opinions are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.