In this article, we’ll be discussing mindset. If you haven’t already read our introduction to the project, which talks in detail about spotting low mood turning into depression, we’d recommend doing so before reading part two. If you haven’t caught part one, you can also catch up by following the link below.
For Part Two of Kickstart Your Wellness, we’ve partnered with Avon and their range of vegan products. We’ve loved Avon for years and have loved seeing how they have committed to no animal testing. Avon are also working to end gender based violence through their work with organisations such as Refuge and Women’s Aid. What we especially love is their ongoing #PledgetobeSeen campaign and are working to represent more people with visible difference in their campaigns whilst supportingChanging Faces, the UK’s leading charity for anyone with a visible difference. In essence, as a brand they’re all about helping to create a better world for all – something very important to us, and something we believe comes from attention to our mental health.
Why is our mindset and trying to help our mental health important?
At a time when things have been incredibly difficult, people have been affected in such a broad stretch of ways. We found the phrases that seemed to bound around at the beginning of the pandemic quite difficult to stomach to be honest. ‘We’re all in the same boat’ was one of them, and then it veered to ‘we might be in the same storm, but certainly not in the same boat’. Apart from the fact that we find these kinds of analogies incredibly cheesy, the sentiments within these suggest that we’re all experiencing things in a similar way – and that could not be further from the truth. We noticed so many different ways of experiencing and processing what has been going on for so many people last year, and again now. What is important is you look at how the experience has been for you, how you are processing it and how it feels. We think that one of the hardest things here is a feeling that if you somehow acknowledge how you feel that you’ll suddenly realize that you don’t actually feel so great. However, realizing and seeing this is really key to moving forward. The way we think about things can have a phenomenal impact on how we feel in so many other circumstances in our lives. To be completely clear on this, we are not trying to go down that route of toxic positivity, and the idea that you have to feel happy all the time, what we’re trying to do is say that if you haven’t been feeling great, chances are, it is to do with how you’re feeling about things mentally. Once we realise this, we can take steps to make things that little bit easier on ourselves and make small changes that can mount up to us feeling that little bit better.
Image Description: A landscape format image.Matt stands to camera left next to a fence and gate, looking out over a golden, hazy landscape of rolling green fields and hills.He is wearing red trousers, a black coat with yellow detail, a yellow backpack, grey hoodie and grey and red beanie hat.
What can affect our mindset and mood?
There are so many different things in our lives that can affect our mindset, and it can often be a combination of things. You may also find that something we haven’t listed is the main reason for you not feeling your best. If you find you don’t resonate with any of the reasons below, we welcome you to spend some time thinking about what it is that could be impacting you. Doing this is a really valuable exercise and getting to the route of the cause can sometimes be a really important step in addressing it and moving forward.
- StressorsThere can be so much going on in our lives that can cause us stress. Money, overwhelm, time commitments, the list goes on. Each and every thing that causes us stress can have a big impact on how we feel.
- WorriesIf you find that you spend a lot of your time worrying, or it frequents you through the day and almost takes over, or you’re being kept awake at night thinking about the things that worry you, this can have quite the impact on our mental, and physical health.
- Food and stimulantsWe truly believe that what we eat and drink has a big impact on how we feel. We know if we eat certain foods at a particular time in the day, we’ll feel sluggish and tired for the rest of it. If we drink caffeine before bed, we know we’ll feel restless and find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
- Lack of exercise and/or outdoor timeWe know this could be seen as a loaded one, as this isn’t possible for everyone, so let us preface this by saying that what we mean here is that if we spend a lot of time indoors, it can have a very negative impact on our mental health. This could be an especially big factor for you if you’ve had to spend a lot of time at home in the past year shielding due to existing health concerns or have been unwell at any point.
- LonelinessThis can often come as a related feeling to the feelings of depression, or on its own. This last year has contributed to many of us feeling loneliness on a new level. Winter can also create a further feeling of loneliness as people tend to spend more time inside, especially when the weather is at its worst.
- ConnectionThis can follow on from the last point, but especially in the last year, we have felt more disconnected from others. If you’re feeling depressed, it is especially important to note that you may feel more disconnected from others than previously. You may feel a sense that you don’t know to communicate with others or what to say, or that nobody wants to talk, but we can assure you, from our own experience that this isn’t the whole truth. Feeling a lack of connection doesn’t just automatically come from other people though, it can be a feeling of loss of connection from things you enjoy – such as getting outdoors, travel, experiencing new places and things, your self care routine and finding the time for this or whatever it is that helps you feel connected.
- Ongoing illnessOngoing illness or chronic illness can have a really negative impact on your mindset and your mental health. It is also important to note that in current times, Long Covid can be a factor in here. Frankly, not feeling great physically can make you feel really, really low and depressed.
- Lowered confidence levels and lack of self worthThis can have a huge impact on how we feel. In truth, there are so many things in our day to day lives that can contribute to feeling like this. There are also bigger things that can to. If you’ve been ill and don’t feel like you can do as much right now, that is going to have an impact. If you’ve lost your job and have found it tough to get back into employment, that is going to have an impact. These are just two examples, but there are so many things that can play a part in feeling smaller and a lack of self esteem.
Image Descriptions: (Left) A landscape format image.Fay sits on the edge of a bed spraying a pillow with Avon Pillow Mist from a small bottle.There are plants and framed pictures in the background.Fay wears an orange cardigan, a black top and black leopard print leggings.(Right) A portrait format image.A product image of Avon Beauty Sleep Pillow Mist.The product is in a tall brown bottle with a spray diffuser.It is pictured against a blurry light background.
Getting to grips with what is affecting you
Whilst we don’t believe that analyzing constantly is the best way to move forward, we do believe it is really important to identify what it is that might be going on for you. Once you identify this, there may actually be some really straight forward ways that you can make things feel a little easier for yourself. For example, if you realise that the main reason you’re feeling down is because you’re drinking caffeine late at night and not sleeping right, then a swap to caffeine free in the evening would help to move you forward with a solution. If it is because you’re not getting enough sleep – is there a way you can work to improve the quality of your sleep? If this is a problem, we’d really recommend Avon’s Planet Spa Aromatherapy Pillow Mist, which is infused with lavender and chamomile – we’ve found this has really helped us get in the mood for sleep.Once you’ve identified, there will likely be a number of potential factors, or a number of things that are easier to solve and other things that are potentially a little more involved. We’d recommend you spend some time writing about the things that are affecting your mood and some potential ways that you could look to move forward with improving them. If you’re finding it difficult to work these out by yourself, it could be worth chatting to someone who you trust and can talk openly with about it. You could even work on it together.
How to help your mindset
Routine and spontaneity
Developing a routine is really helpful. In times of uncertainty, it can give you an enormous sense of comfort – but at the same time, living life a little more spontaneously can also be incredibly beneficial and give you that feeling that life is still exciting and can feel great for you. It is about finding a balance though. Things like trying to get up at the same time each day and having certain things that you develop into a routine are really helpful for giving you a sense of normalcy. This could even be through to your self care – and developing a routine or ritual around the little acts of kindness you give yourself each day. Some of our favourite rituals are around the products we use on our skin to give us a real treat – such asAvon’s CBD Facial Elixiror theirDistillery Vitamin C-Shot Powder. As well as having a routine, we believe it is really important to mix in a dose of spontaneity to keep things interesting. Can you try some new recipes? Try a new hobby such as an online life drawing class? Head out for your walk but take different turns? Plot a new route on a map for your weekend hike or outdoor activity? In terms of routine, can you find things that you enjoy in your everyday life that you can make into a ritual? Can you really mindfully enjoy the process of making your morning coffee or smoothie? Can you really enjoy the ritual of doing a particular task each day? A balanced combination of both routine and spontaneity can give you both something to look forward to that perhaps pushes you out of your comfort zone, whilst also giving you the comfort of familiar with the routine things you get to do each day.
Image Description: A landscape format image.Matt stands in the centre of the frame and is visible from the knees up.He has his back to the camera and is looking out over rolling fields and hills. He is wearing red trousers, a black padded coat, grey hoodie and a grey and red beanie hat.He is wearing a yellow backpack with a water bottle in each of the side pouches. The light in the scene is warm, golden and hazy.
Meditation and Mindfulness
As you know, we’ve spoken about the tremendous benefits of meditation, and also as a separate point, mindfulness many times. Many people have discounted meditation, but it is becoming a lot more popular. What is great about meditation is the techniques you can develop to help you through your day. For example, if you find yourself getting stuck in a negative thought pattern about something, the techniques used in meditation can really help you to detach from the thought and move on (which is sometimes all that we need).Meditation can also provide you with techniques to help in cases where you are dealing with anxiety and panic attacks – where deep breathing can have an incredible impact on calming back down an anxious mind. There are so many meditation apps out there now, and you can also find a lot of guided meditations on streaming websites. We’d generally always recommend mindfulness of breathing, anxiety relief, or mindfulness practice as key words to search for. We also haveour open eye meditationfor those who are perhaps a little unsure and want to try something that really grounds them in the moment. We also believe that connecting with nature can form a huge part of being more mindful, and we’ve actually realized over time that this has become quite a meditative experience for us. When we are really able to fling ourselves into the moment when we are outdoors, it can often mean that the time we spend outdoors are mostly free from any of the worries we were experiencing before, allowing us time to come back at things with a slightly different perspective. It can often be difficult to find a solution to a problem when you are tied up in worry, so taking a step back can be incredibly important. We wrote a whole article about developing a mindfulness practice in the outdoors, which you can findhere.
Image Desriptions: (Left) A portrait format image.A close-cropped portrait of Fay’s face with eyes closed, lying back on a sofa and with hands resting over the head.Fay is wearing a purple sleeveless top and white earbud headphones.Fay is holding a dropper bottle of Avon Distillery CBD oil. (Right) A portrait format image.A close-up detail of a dried yellow flower head on a plain off-white background.
What we eat and drink
Your body and what is going into it can have a massive impact on you feeling sluggish and not wanting to get out there. Now, were not trying to say that eating a balanced diet needs to be expensive, and we of course understand that budgets are tight, but it is important to acknowledge that this can have a huge impact on how you feel in your body. We recommend keeping as mindful an eye as possible on how you feel after certain foods and stimulants. Is coffee making you feel anxious? Is eating at a certain time making you feel tired and a little apathetic? Noticing and making slight adjustments can be incredibly beneficial to our overall sense of wellness and mental clarity.
Getting outside into nature
As you know, we wax lyrical about the incredible mental and physical benefits of getting outdoors and the chances are that if you’re regular reader of the blog, you’ll agree with us. The main reason we started This Expansive Adventure was because our lives were changed by just how much developing a connection with nature affected us and let us develop into the people we are today. As we mentioned above, time outdoors often allows us to get swept along with where we are and what we are doing and can give us a really prominent break in the feeling we are experiencing, often allowing us to come back with a fresh perspective.
Image Descriptions: (Left Top) A landscape format image.Fay and Matt lean against a fallen tree trunk in a forest.There are red leaves on the ground and bare trees in the background.The light is cold.Fay wears a yellow coat and black leggings.Matt wears a black coat and red trousers. (Left Bottom) A landscape format image.Fay and Matt take a selfie on a suburban street.There are parked cars in the background and it is evening.Fay is wearing a yellow coat and Matt is wearing a black coat, grey hoodie and black backpack.(Right) A portrait format image.A close up of Matt’s hands whist he squeezes a tube of Avon Cannabis Sativa Oil balm.There is a heavily out of focus red/brown background.
Having things to focus on
This last year has meant that most of us have had to cancel many of the things that we have in life that keep us excited and looking forward to things. This isn’t just travel but a whole range of things from family birthdays, to gigs to workshops and seminars. Having things to focus on can form a huge part of what is good about life. When we have a number of the things that make life feel good for us stripped away, well, it isn’t difficult to see why that would have a negative impact on you. One thing that we have started to do is really get into the planning of projects that we want to work on or have tentatively on the cards for this year. That joy of planning is something that we found really perk us up. We know it isn’t entirely possible to plan everything you might want to right now, but what are some things you can plan and look forward to? Can you plan out some new hikes you want to try? Can you plan a certain thing you’re going to do differently?
What are some good things in your life that you can focus on?
We know this may come across a little cheesy – as we know the idea of gratitude is bounded around in pretty much every article that focuses on self development. But in truth, developing a feeling of appreciation for the things we do have in our lives is a really effective way of helping us to feel that little bit more grounded. Even just appreciating the meal you were able to eat for lunch, the time you got to spend with your pet or the warm and comfortable bed you slept in last night are things to be grateful for. We’re not trying to suggest that these things alone make everything else going on in your life ok, they may just make it that little bit easier and help you to see that there are actually good things going on as well in tandem.
Image Descrition: a landscape format image.Fay and Matt sit on a chair and small stool in a bright, airy room, surrounded by plants.Fay is wearing a leopard print top, black leggings and woolly socks and is using an Avon product.Matt is wearing red trousers and a blue and black striped sweater.
Being gentle if you’re feeling ill and not being so critical
There have been so many times when we’ve felt bad for not doing something because of how we feel, particularly when struggling with anxiety and depression in the last few months. The truth of the situation is that it can be incredibly tiring. If you’re coping with a long standing illness, or even a short term illness, it can be tempting to think of all the things you aren’t able to do. It seems to be human nature to want to be able to improve as we go along, and any dips in this can feel difficult to handle. If you’re struggling with this, try to look at where you are now and the things that you can do to stop comparing where you were a while ago to where you are now.
Focusing on where you get your information – social media etc. and how this makes you feel
One thing that has massively affected the way we feel is choosing who and where we get our facts and information from. Of course, everyone has their own take and experience with how things have panned out through the pandemic. However, we’ve also found ourselves party to a lot of negativity from people – sometimes without them even realizing it. Of course, we know that this is human nature, but we have some control over what we allow ourselves to take on and what we don’t. For us, we’ve actively worked on trying to discount people’s potentially unfounded claims on what might happen in the world. Before we did this, we found it was making us feel extremely worried. Now, we take on facts and evidence. Within this, it’s really important to remember that people aren’t generally trying to be malicious to you, but instead, each and every person is going through their own thing and it could well be a reflection on their own anxiety and worries (even if they wouldn’t admit it). If you find yourself negatively affected by something someone else is saying, try to mention to them that you would rather keep the conversation away from that particular topic. Try to explain to them how talking about that makes you feel. The same goes for reading the news or social media – if you find it impacts the way you feel (which we certainly do if we get stuck in a spiral of reading social posts and the news) try to limit the time you allow yourself to spend each day looking online.
Image Description: Landscape format image.Matt reclines on sofa surrounded by green plants.It is light and bright in the room.He wears black jumper, red trousers and has iPad propped on left leg.He uses Avon product in hand with others next to him.
Assess what is causing dips in your mood and affecting your mindset
Using the point above and looking into what might be causing you to feel low is a great way of starting to address the problem. It may be as simple as making a few small changes to your lifestyle or it may be a little more involved. Either way, working out what is going on gives you a clear way of finding the starts of a solution, or experimenting to find a solution.
Keep a diary or note of how you feel before versus after time outdoors
Keeping a note to assess how you feel before and after exercise and time outdoors can be a really fantastic way of proving to yourself that it makes a difference. This can be a quick easy note in your phone, a spreadsheet or in a diary. We’d really suggest writing this down to see its effectiveness on paper – that way, you have proof you can refer back to.
Image Descriptions: (Left) A portrait format image.Fay sits cross-legged on a yoga mat applying Avon Cannabis Sativa Oil balm to feet.Other Avon products are arranged nearby.There is a large bright window and a plant in the background.This image is light and airy.(Right) A portrait format image.A close-up detail image of some gnarled and twisting dried plants against an off-white background.
Be mindful of how what you eat and drink affects you
As above, the same can be applied to what we eat and drink. This perhaps doesn’t need a written approach, but it is certainly important to be mindful of how certain foods and drinks perhaps make you feel sluggish so you can be mindful of this. We find that for example, before we head out for a hike, eating a meal that is balanced in carbs, protein and crunchy veg is incredibly important to us feeling great whilst outside. This is also the case with what we eat when we’re out and stop to refuel.
Make a list of things that bring you joy and make time in your diary to do them
This list can be small things, like trying out new recipes or new cuisine – even trying a new food you haven’t before. Perhaps its ten minutes of yoga most days? Perhaps it’s a self care routine or ritual to take care of yourself that makes you feel great? Perhaps it’s making sure you get out for a walk as much as is possible? Or reading a book? Try to make a list of a number of things that you know bring you joy and commit to doing at least one of them a day. If you are thinking ‘I don’t have time for that’ then try to find little pockets of time you can work something in. A good thing to do is schedule some time for you just like you do for a meeting or hang out with someone. When you make the time available for yourself, the chances are you’ll make it happen and make that commitment. If you don’t know exactly what it is that brings you joy, this is a brilliant opportunity to get exploring!
Image Description: A portrait format image.Matt leans against a wooden ladder whilst speaking on a mobile phone.There is a window in the background and the image is flooded with warm light.Matt is pushing his hair back and wears a green striped t-shirt and red trousers.
Last, but by no means least – mindfulness can have a huge effect on you so trying to develop a technique that works for you to get you into the moment is going to really change things for you. This is a great opportunity to experiment. Can you try and focus on what is really around you when you go out for a walk or run? Does yoga help you feel really present in your body? Does cooking and eating mindfully allow you to feel connected to yourself? Does having a conversation or watching a film that you really need to concentrate on help you to feel engaged? Or is it meditation? Or a combination? Try to be inquisitive around what helps you to feel mindful and more present.