I’ve been assailed with Too Many Thoughts lately. And actually, despite always having had a fairly robust grip on my mental health, I’ve found myself doing some worrying catastrophising these past few weeks. Weird, unexpectedly overwhelming moments of fearful thoughts, ranging from gunmen on the loose to a terrible accident on the motorway. I even sobbed when putting my baby down for the night the other night because I decided (why?) to imagine what it might feel like if you had to say goodnight to your child knowing it would be the last time you’d see them.
I’m telling you, don’t do that. I properly cried into her sleepy little cheek. Naturally, I’ve felt the familiar (frightening) rise of panic when I linger on these thoughts for too long.
There’s a reason for all this, though, and my approach to looking after my mind is facing its workings FULL ON. Come at me, suckers. I’m ready for you.
Thing is, to quote George Ezra, ‘My my, what a terrible time to be alive if you’re prone to overthinking…’ Preach. Following my moment last month, I’m clearly struggling to psychologically come to terms with a very deep, very visceral fear of extinction. That sounds outrageously overdramatic, but actually, I think we’ve all got it. I think it’s part of being human. We’re scared of dying, and when we’re not scared of that, we’re scared of people we love dying. It’s just that usually we repress it in order to, you know, enjoy life.
Fear teaches us valuable lessons, and right now mine is teaching me to take control over what I can influence. Politics, the environment, the mental health epidemic, fucking abortion legislation in the US – it’s a car-crash right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start putting the world right in tiny ways. A guest speaker at work today brought up the power of marginal gains, the concept of improving every area (of a sport, a process, a life) by 1% in order to reap huge overall rewards. That’s the attitude I’m taking. If I can make 1% improvements in all areas of my life, then I’ll really start feeling traction. Right?
Aside: when I Googled images for ‘traction’ I found this, and I am just so thrilled that I did:
So I thought, how about setting myself a 6 month challenge, starting in June. There are a billion areas I could improve my life (and I don’t mean myself, because I’m quite obviously perfection), particularly when it comes to living more sustainably and healthily. I’ve decided to pick 12, and focus on improving each one by 1% every fortnight.
Here’s my initial list:
- Drive less
- Buy less plastic
- Start composting food/plants at home
- Reduce chemical products in my home
- Make more plant-based meals
- Use reusable nappies
- Declutter by selling, donating or upcycling
- Less time in the shower
- Make my home more energy efficient
- Don’t buy anything new
- Stop fast fashion – buy clothes that will last, and mend ones that break
- Make my personal beauty/hygiene products (and there are SO MANY) less…landfilly and chemical.
I’m fully nervous about many of these, largely because I’m so easily swayed by convenience, and because my husband is even more so. Convincing him (or rather, getting him to be consciously aware of what we’re using/consuming/purchasing) will be my biggest challenge. Then again…maybe he’ll surprise me?
On top of this, there are some personal and family things that would benefit from small improvements:
- Daily acts of kindness – this website has really opened my eyes to how easy it is to become insular and self-absorbed instead of reaching out and connecting with people around us.
- Email/text less and talk more – eek. This is a weird one for me. I’m not a phone person. But I’d like to be.
- Put my sodding phone down – I swear I picked it up about 40 times an hour today. For no reason. Whilst at work. It’s not good for my twitchy brain and it’s not good for my kids to see me being obsessive about it.
So. To summate: my mind’s frazzling itself in a call-to-action, so I’m making 1% improvements to give me some element of control over an out-of-control situation, but through it all, I’m a gonna…