Many of us faced great difficulties in the past year: losing jobs, not being able to see friends or family, or even losing someone close to us. Our mental health has been challenged as we had to amend our lifestyles to adapt to current circumstances.
But all the lessons we learned during this year, may help us improve ourselves next year. One of the most challenging things for me was to spend quality time with myself. By that, I do not mean laying in bed all day on my phone (which is absolutely fine and sometimes so needed) but, by doing this I always wanted but never found time.
So where to begin? Start by creating a list and writing things you always wanted to do. Set aside an hour or two in your day to complete the tasks; maybe smaller activities during the week and the ones that require more time do on the weekends.
By creating such a list you’ll prioritise your dreams, however small they are, and by completing them one by one you will learn so much about your personality and find more ways to improve your wellbeing.
Here is the list I made a month ago and how amended it along the way:
1. Educate myself by going to art exhibitions
Art has always been a great way to escape reality for me and whenever I feel anxious, I find calmness in museums and galleries. I wrote down this back in November just before the lockdown was announced. I was planning to see Andy Warhol’s exhibition in Tate Modern for weeks and my tickets were purchased for the day after the new rules were set.
I’m not going to lie, that made me quite upset. Not because I was losing the tickets, but because I was losing the opportunity to educate myself and deepen my knowledge.
After pitying myself for a day or two, I grabbed some paint and brushes and started drawing flowers. ‘If I can’t see the art created by others, I will be creating something myself,’ I said to myself.
I am not the most gifted painter, but the quality time spent was a great boost for mental health and I would definitely recommend it for everyone. Lookup for some inspiration online and let your creative juice flow!
2. Lunch date with myself
Another thing that did not go according to plan. I was imagining myself dressing up and going to a restaurant while looking mysteriously from the outside. But because all restaurants and cafes had to close, I had to improvise again.
So instead, I took myself for a lunch date at a park. That’s legal now! On my way to Hampstead Heath, I grabbed myself a sandwich and some tea, found a park bench (which is quite challenging these days apparently), and enjoyed my lunch while getting some fresh air.
3. Visiting a place, I haven’t been before
Talking about Hampstead Heath, I never had a chance to explore the whole area as it is such a massive park. To keep myself active, I go on walks there every other day, and if I have time I wander around with no plan. I cannot tell you how many times I got lost and found myself at the other end of the park, but along the way, I found the most beautiful views and peace.
Also, dogs! If you are a dog person, you know how much joy it brings seeing so many dogs running around and occasionally running up to you to say hi.
4. Making a dish I always wanted
This one was inspired by the Pixar movie Ratatouille and I have been dreaming about making that dish for months now. After doing some research, I needed some kitchen equipment to complete that Pixar-perfect dish. But as a student, I couldn’t afford to buy it, so yet again, improvise!
Was it an exact recreation? No. Was it a disaster? No. Was it tasty? Yes. Is there room for improvement? Yes. Next time I will try to find Remy to help me out.
For some, it may be a simple task, but for me, it is not. In January I made a New Year’s resolution to read at least five books and I couldn’t even complete that. Having said that, instead of scrolling on my phone before going to bed, I open a book and read as much as possible. I have noticed some improvement in sleep quality, and it was such a small change in my daily routine.
6. Turning off notifications on my phone
I always found myself under a lot of pressure to respond to texts immediately, especially if I have opened them. To combat that, I turned off read notifications and sometimes I put my phone on sleep mode so all the beeps would not distract me while I spend quality time with myself or with others. After doing that, I have noticed that I don’t check my phone that often anymore and if I do, I spend less time on it.
This learning experience taught me so many things about my personality and let me get closer to myself. It is very important to learn to be with oneself and spend quality time, because in times like this, sometimes we have no one else. Do not be afraid to be alone, use the time wisely and explore the depths of your inner world.