1 September, 2017
When people are not happy and/or going through a bout of depression, many march their way to the self-help section in a book store or Google into oblivion, searching things like ‘how to get happy’, ‘what to do when you’re bored’, ‘why do I feel down for no reason?’ etc. etc. What I’ve learned this year is that you don’t necessarily need a book or an answer to a specific question, you just need to be in tune with yourself.
I don’t know about you, but I used to be obsessed with Google, convinced it had all of the answers to my obsessive questions about why I feel a certain way and how to snap out of it. Last year, when I suffered from awful hypochondria, I’d spend all day hunting for a diagnosis by reading articles about every physical symptom I had. Doing this actually made me more ill, more obsessive and more unhappy- my aches and pains worsened and new symptoms would come from no where. I ignored statistics and told myself that I was actually dying. The scariest thing about all of this is that it was entirely my own mind that was the cause. Apart from being undernourished from not being able to eat much, I was physically healthy. Mentally- not so much.
(Obviously, if you are worried about your health, go to your doctor. I’m not telling you to ignore physical symptoms, just don’t obsessively use Google to find your answer.)
So, being in tune with yourself. What do I mean?
I mean getting to know yourself, as a human being. Pinpointing when you’re tired, hungry, happy, sad, jealous- whatever. If you can distinguish between different feelings emotionally and physically, you’re getting in tune with yourself.
How does this translate into a happy mind? Surely feeling sad and jealous isn’t a happy mind?
No, this is just being a human. In life, feelings of anger, frustration and envy are unavoidable. When I talk about having a ‘happy mind’, I don’t necessarily mean a mind that can only experience the emotion of happiness- that wouldn’t be realistic. A ‘happy mind’ is a mind that you know, a mind that isn’t clouded and a mind that you can control.
Being in tune with yourself means that you recognise when you feel certain emotions and understand why you feel them. It also means that you know the needs of your mind and body. You’re not being very kind to yourself if you don’t at least try to understand your feelings, or if you’re not giving your body what it needs to function at it’s best. Your personal development would certainly be stunted. So, why not try and get in tune and find out how to be the best you you can be (under your circumstances)?
For me to be in tune, I consider the following:
- SLEEP: Do I get too much or too little? How much sleep do I need for my mind and body to feel right?
- WORK: When do I work best? Am I an early bird or a night owl? Is my work organised? Do I actually like my job? Of course!
- DIET: Do I have a balanced diet? What do I eat and does my body like it? Do I bloat? If so, do I know what triggers it?
- EXERCISE: Do I get enough and does my body like/need the amount I’m doing? Is my form right? Am I progressing? Do I have a goal here?
- LADY THINGS: Do I still have periods and am I in sync with my cycle? I use the MyFlo app.
- APPEARANCE: Am I content with the way I look? Is my appearance making me unhappy? If so, what do I need to do to change? Okay- 99% of the time I don’t focus on this one. I’m an artist and this means that I get away with looking scruffy.
- GOALS: Do I know what I want? Have I written down my goals and considered what I want in life? Have I analysed whereabouts I am and assessed whether anything needs to change?
- FEARS: What am I scared of and why? Can I face these fears? Do I know what I’m capable of/incapable of? Read this post about facing fears.
- FACTS: What actually makes me happy/unhappy? Have I made an effort to do more of what makes me happy and less of what makes me unhappy? Why am I feeling this way- jealous/angry/emotional?
Considering these aspects of my life has enabled me to really know who the frick Emma Howell is, and it’s really eye-opening. For those who feel a little lost, I totally recommend sitting down with a notebook and figuring out how you work. Use my list as a starting point, if you wish.
You will only ever be one person, so you might as well make an effort with that person.
Look after yourself, physically and mentally and get a happy mind by tuning in to your mind and body’s mechanics.
Credit to Jon Munson, my boyfriend and the guitarist featured, who is always in tune.
Credit to the genius Mari Andrew, who inspired this illustration that I drew a while back at the start of my journey.