How I positively sign post my mental health to drive happy days. Stop, Ready, Go.

As you know from a lot of my blogs, I put effort into maintaining a good state of mental health. Most days there is a certain rhythm and set things I do to support this. Having daily activities like meditation or practising gratitude and weekly tasks like exercising three times a week. I have over the years become increasingly aware that most days are good days, some days are great days and some days are hard. A useful technique I have found to help manage this is to consider my days like a traffic light system, Green are Great days, Amber are the good days and Red are the hard days. It might seem odd to associate good days with amber but I think it works well because amber is traditionally a colour to say be prepared or get ready and if we don’t prepare for the hard days or be ready to receive the great we can easily fall off a cliff. I thought today I would share how my approach differs if I am having a Green, Red or Amber day. Green – living my best life, full of the joys of spring First up the green days. These are those hallowed spectacular days where you slip into bed at the end of the day with a Cheshire cat grin on your face, feeling complete, at ease with the world, like you have just spent the day perfectly and you would not change a thing. I hope you experience these days. They may at times be few and far between but they are amazing. I had a day like this recently having spent the morning on the beach with the kids, eaten fish and chips watching a stormy sea and then cwtched up with a favourite movie. There were less than perfect moments in the day, either the kids having a meltdown when it was time to leave the beach or the chip shop getting my order wrong but it didn’t matter, I was in my sweet spot and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. So, what are the actions I am mindful of on a green day. Keep up the good work – You need to be cautious that green days don’t lull you into a false sense of security so that your regular routines slide. Whatever is your normal routine for sustaining a happy place keep up the good work. I will still try my best to complete all Amber day actions on a Green day. Lavish in the Good stuff. – It is often easier to wallow in the hard emotions sometimes the great one’s rush by us without us truly noticing. In our hectic lives we are primed to move onto the next step before we are even examine the floor beneath our feet. So, one of the greatest skills you can learn for a Green day is to wallow in the good stuff.

I remember when I got married someone telling me how quickly the night would go by and that I should take regular opportunities to pause and just take it in, the people, the place, the feelings. On a green day pause often and just breath in the happiness.

Store up the good stuff – you might keep a journal, have a gratitude board or post the best bits on Facebook. I find these days so valuable for reflecting on the good stuff and storing up those happy memories and feelings when they appear out of reach. Take time to save up the memories for a later date. Personally, I love the Facebook feature that reminds you of posts from years gone by. I am actively posting more on Facebook these days so that I can build up a store. Another idea I love from a fiction book I recently read was setting daily alarms at different times of the day, each with a different song relevant to the memory, so perhaps an alarm for the time you got married, or the time a child was born. Challenge yourself – I always find green days are great days to challenge myself. Get done that one thing that has been hanging around, start that new hobby, make that phone call you have been avoiding.

Green days for me are days I feel strong and comfortable in my skin and I can more easily bounce back from failures so they are good days for me trying something I am not sure I will succeed at. You shouldn’t reserve challenge just for Green days but perhaps face into some of your bigger challenges on these days.

Amber – The good days, most regular days Amber days should be most of the days you live in life, full of high and lows a beautiful mix of the complexity and brilliance of life. I wonder if many people manage to attain Green days as their prevailing time. Honestly, I am content with the Amber days being my main stead I know that the brightness of life is contrasted by the dark. And I am training myself well to hold onto the good bits and let the bad bits go. So Amber days are all about for me Maintaining the Status Quo. Finding a routine that works for me to maintain the best possible me. Considering aspects of diet, exercise, connection, challenge, self-awareness. You could read another of my blogs I found happiness following this approach. Where I reflect on some of the approaches I use to find that rhythm. The importance here is keeping up with whatever you find works. Red – Hard days, having a really difficult day.  These are the days where I don’t want to get out of bed. The days when there is something getting me down and I can’t tell what. The days where I just want to cancel my commitments and isolate myself from the world. The days when the world has sucker punched me in the face. I am learning on these days it is important to be extra kind to yourself. Sometimes it is ok to just accept you are having one of those days and to let it pass over you whilst maintaining the bear minimum, whilst surviving. If you have had a recent trauma or loss in your life or a in a particularly difficult place with your mental health perhaps you will have experienced more than one of these days in a row. I use these days as a measure if I think I need to change something or reach out for extra help. When I suffered the burns last years, I found that these days were increasingly present and that no matter what I tried (Dialling up the exercise or talking my husband’s ear off, seeing friends) nothing seemed to reduce them. It was this warning flag for me that made me act and reach out to the burn’s unit for support. So if it is a one off day I do the following take care of myself. Fitness – often is not achievable on these days but I use that as motivation to pick it up quickly when I am back to myself.  If you can muster the motivation to tackle fitness on a red day it can have massive benefits. On occasion I have managed to find the effort to get out and go for a run, sometimes that act alone can change a red day to an amber one. In the main though exercise goes by the wayside on these days. Self-care – Dial it up. Sometimes you need it and you are definitely worth it. Run a bath, read a book, binge watch your favourite tv shows. These are the days when you invest in love for you so that you can more quickly get back to being strong enough to show love to others. I find it so easy to chastise myself for wasting my time sitting around, not being productive. It is not a waste of time it is an investment. Meditation – Stick with it. Whilst the exercise may slip on a red day, I always try to maintain the meditation. It is most effective when practiced regularly and some approaches to meditation can help calm the soul. Give yourself a break – I often refer to these days as bare basic and only set myself the essential tasks, cooking, dishes and rubbish out (if needed). There will other days to tackle cleaning the bathroom or dusting the skirting (if that is your thing). Equally though I find it important to set a minimum standard even for red days. There are some things that just have to get done and often with completing them a small sense of achievement. Reach out – if you need help reach out. To friends, family or one of the many support networks out there. Red days in my opinion should be the least of your days. If they are happening constantly perhaps it is a sign you need some support. What kind of a day are you having today?
Photo by Davis Sanchez on Pexels.com

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