It’s #TimeToTalk Switching Off

Sometimes, all is noise:

Busy

Bustling

Chaos.

The mad rush from here to

There.

The happy buzz,

The anxious struggle,

The beeping, bleeping, never ending

Asks and answers,

Frets and favours,

Coffee percolating,

Email answering,

Frantic searching,

Forgot what I was doing,

Hamster-wheeling,

Plate spinning

Noise.

And sometimes

There is

Silence.

  • JH

It seems a little ironic to talk about switching off when I’m typing a blog post on my phone (thanks to a broken laptop) which will be read online and shared through social media, but being switched on and plugged in all the time is not good for us. It can in fact be really damaging to our mental health. We are caught in a constant onslaught of exposure to anything and everything. Bad news, images of perfection, and unrealistic expectations are everywhere. It’s enough to make anyone feel inadequate and exhausted.

Being plugged in all the time also prevents us from really engaging with the people around us. Looking around a crowded train carriage on the way into town or even around a restaurant on a Friday night, you see people everywhere staring at screens. Don’t get me wrong, I love my screens and technology as much as the next person, and I’m guilty of checking my phone more than I need to, but sometimes it really is nice to step out of the digital world we’re so caught up in and take a moment to enjoy the reality around us.

So set yourself a challenge to unplug for a while, even just an hour, and start a conversation with someone. A real conversation. It’s time to talk.

***

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.

The Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org

Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk

Young Minds – http://www.youngminds.org.uk

Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) – https://www.papyrus-uk.org

Self Harm UK – https://www.selfharm.co.uk

Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness – http://www.rethink.org

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – https://www.afsp.org

Please do not struggle alone.

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Come Home To Rest

The Earth smoulders

With the turning of the season

And the clouds drift down

To kiss the burning land.

A veil of tears

Lands softly on flaming leaves

But even heaven’s weeping

Cannot dull the

Rioting palette

Of autumn’s inferno.

And when the most parts,

Making way for the pale light

Of winter’s promise,

And the chill of year’s end

Arrives on the breath of the hills,

The leaves curl and crisp underfoot,

Rustling their accompaniment to fading birdsong.

Polished conkers gleam amongst summer’s debris.

Woodsmoke hangs in the air,

The crackle of logs echoing in the quiet.

The world exhales

A long sigh of letting go.

As though, after a long day,

She has come home to rest.

While The Wind Howls

Outside the window, rain pummels and thunder rumbles. But in here it is warm and dry and quiet. An autumn medley of our favourite tunes plays softly through the house, and the smell of baking pies envelopes us in mouth-watering warmth. The world seems to settle. Our cosy home is filled with memories and promises; the bricks and mortar we bought have slowly taken on something of ourselves.

With the leaves turning down the street, our door closed against the storm, the tastes and smells of autumn bubbling in the oven, and the music of our happiest times playing through every room, it finally begins to go quiet behind my eyes. The comfort I’ve been missing in my busy days settles over my shoulders and across my brow. In this moment of peace, I am overwhelmed by my blessings and I see the depth of joy in my life.

For some it is adventure in the great wide somewhere that calls and lifts them. To escape to the new and the beauty of the unknown. But for me the greatest adventure has always been in this: in coming home. I cannot help but wonder that in the vastness of the universe, on this beautiful jewel of a planet, floating amongst the stars, there is a place that is so inherently me that it brings silent solace to the chaos of my busy human mind. As if, while the wind howled outside my door, the universe leaned in, wrapped a bubble of quiet warmth around me and whispered ‘this is for you’.

Off On the Right Foot

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Anxiety is my monster. My biggest, scariest demon. I feel like I have spent forever battling it; trying to squeeze it out of my brain, run it through with a sword or knock it out with a frying pan to achieve some triumphant victory. It always seems to come back.

Right now though, it’s a teeny tiny little beastie. I’m more calm and less anxious at this moment than I have been in a long time.

It feels pretty good.

It takes some effort to keep it that way but I am determined not to use my imagination to feed my monster. I am determined not to let fear hinder my ability to live and love my life fully. Instead I will use my imagination for creativity. I will make things of beauty and things of usefulness and things of both.

If you find yourself battling your own anxiety beastie know that you are NOT alone and they CAN be beaten. So scribble it out with your pen or your paintbrush, smush it with your stylus or your point shoe or whatever means of creativity you have to hand! Redirect your imagination and don’t feed the monster.

Image found here.

That Bookshop Feeling

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Image from here.

Is there anything better than wandering round a bookshop? I could quite happily spend my entire life in bookshops…as long as someone brought me food on a fairly regular basis.

I love the atmosphere of hushed appreciation, created by the small gatherings of book lovers, quietly browsing the shelves. The smell. The rainbow of colours spread across the walls and tables. All those inviting covers, waiting to be opened. People meandering through the stacks, running gentle fingers along the spines, occasionally pulling a book from the shelf to read the back or flip through the pages.

If I had even a smidgen less self control I would just pull out a pile of books that took my fancy, plonk myself down on the floor in the middle of the shop, and plunge straight into the vast universes waiting within the pages. It takes a great exercise of will to not indulge this little compulsion. If I did I would probably never leave.

I am alternately awed, excited and devastated by how many books there are. Awed and excited because how many wonderful stories and people and places have I yet to discover? Devastated because I know I will never discover them all…but that won’t stop me trying!