What helps me

Last year, I shared a post that listed some of the things that make me happy. In light of the fact that this week we had World Mental Health Day, and considering that I’ve had a slightly wobbly time of it this year, I wanted to revisit the list. Update it. Let it reflect what helps me feel better today.

Solo coffee. Solo walks. Solo a lot of things, actually. Cake in the window seat of my favourite local cafe. A whole row to myself in the cinema. The front seat on the top deck of a Routemaster. I adore people. I’m fascinated by them. I gain so much energy from the buzz of others. FaceTime with my sister and texts with my brother and chats with my mum and my dad and my mates. But being by myself is ridiculously important and key to me feeling OK.

Long stretches of time with nothing to do. Where I get to choose when I wake up. Where I have no need to leave the house unless I want to. Where I have no need to leave my bed unless I want to. Where the cupboards are stocked and there’s unwatched Netflix to binge on and unread books to devour. (I need to get better at this, granted. Better at not imposing obligations on myself. Better at just letting myself be, without checking my phone or keeping a mental note of the time.)

Running. Running before work. Running at 6am. Running before the world and its mother wake up and join me on the streets. When the sky is still black and most windows still dark.

My mornings. Making the same breakfast of porridge and berries every day. Eating it in my bedroom with a podcast or music on in the background. Cycling to work and sailing past the stationary traffic like see yaaaaaaaa. Feeling a new day stretching ahead of me, never quite knowing what it’ll bring but knowing that I mostly get to decide.

Doing something nice for someone else. I don’t really know how to say this without sounding like a sanctimonious git, but I’ve bought hot drinks and a sandwich for two separate homeless guys this week and it made me feel really, really good when I did it. I admitted that I had no cash but I asked what they wanted to eat or drink. Went to the nearest shops to buy cappuccinos and a tuna sandwich. Left them with some sustenance and told them to take care. I feel like Joey in Friends when he insists that there’s no such thing as a selfless good deed, but I think that’s OK. And it’s kind of the whole point. Because when we do something nice for another and spread some love, it’s supposed to make us feel good, too.

Reading. Reading really, reeeeaaaally slowly. As in, taking an hour to read a book made of paper and doing nothing other than focusing on its pages. Just paying attention to that one thing for a relatively long time. Preferably in a busy cafe. Or in bed.

Parks in the afternoon. Parks first thing in the morning. Parks in the evening as the sun’s going down and a chill’s setting in. I’m pretty lucky to live in one of the greatest cities in the world but also have super-easy access to some gorgeous green spaces. Must remember that sitting on a park bench with a takeaway latte is one of life’s loveliest things.

Early nights. Note to self: sleep is magical. End of story. More of it, please.

Even making this list helped me. Picturing myself doing all these things. Making mental plans to do them soon. Remembering that even when I feel really, really bad, I can still help myself out of it.