The summer solstice June 2021: the perfect time for a mental health detox
It has now been almost exactly six months since I started this new blog called ‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ and I have already written a staggering 150 posts since my first offering back in January.
It seems like the perfect time to take stock of what I’ve achieved so far this year and to take a bit of a breather to reflect and gather my thoughts before the second half of 2021.
The time for rest and reflection could not be more appropriate because yesterday (June 21st) was the summer solstice which occurs on the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.
The event, which has been celebrated since ancient times, ushers in a time of abundance and reflection for us all, and I have therefore decided to take some time out to practice some techniques of self-care and make the most of this spiritual time.
What is the spiritual meaning behind the summer solstice?
The summer solstice has a deep spiritual meaning for many. For those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is at this moment in June that astrologers believe the Sun will be at its most powerful.
This period allows for a time of inner reflection and revitalization, and is the perfect opportunity to enhance spiritual growth and enlightenment – something that must be considered in a holistic approach to full mental wellness.
Recognising the need for revitalisation
On Sunday I woke up with a sore throat and felt unusually tired and lacklustre.
Having just spent the weekend socialising with friends, I was immediately concerned that I may have Coronavirus, so I went straight to my parents and took a rapid Covid test!
Luckily, the test was negative, but it made me recognise the fact that I am feeling rather run down, and it prompted me to listen to what my mind is telling me, and allow myself to have a bit of a mental health detox this week.
The stress and anxiety to get this story out into the public domain has been unwittingly affecting me, and I have decided to be the ‘expert of myself’ and give myself a week off from writing daily on the blog.
Doing what’s right for you
I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the summer solstice but I’ve noticed recently that my energy levels have taken a dip and I want to recharge before my mood has a chance to be affected too.
After my extensive run-in with mental illness, I’m now acutely aware of any changes or fluctuations, so I’m trying to lead by example and react accordingly in line with what my mind and body are telling me.
I’m continually telling people to do what’s right for their mental health whatever the situation, but when it comes to considering my own needs and requirements, I’m not always as good at taking that advice.
It’s not always so easy to follow your own guidance, but being acutely self-aware is an essential tool that anyone suffering from mental illness should be fully adept at!
Being the expert of myself
I have noticed recently that writing about mental illness, and some of the contentious issues that surround it, can really be quite exhausting.
Not only is the process of researching, writing, editing and proofreading tiring (and time consuming), but the emotional expenditure that goes into these posts can also take its toll on my mental well-being.
Reliving the horror of the past through some of the medical fiascos and being reminded of the myriad of losses and failures can also be upsetting, and although I am generally able to cope with this (the past is the past let it go Tom), I do have to be aware of the impact that these issues can have on my energy levels and my mental health.
I am useless to everyone if I don’t stay well, so this has to be the first consideration before anything else!
Trusting my instincts
Rather than writing this week, I will be focusing on publicity, generating interest, and finding representation for the book and blog.
I have an agent interested but as of yet nothing has been decided. I’ve been trying to find representation (intermittently) for about four years now, (since finishing ‘Dying to Stay Alive!), but rather than continuing to push to get noticed, I’m actually going to stop pressurising myself and let things take their own course.
I’ve realised that continually pushing for what you so desperately want, isn’t always conducive to achieving the desired goal, so I’m actually going to do the reverse of what I have been doing recently and take a more relaxed approach!
Note to self – silencing the inner critic!
I’ve had to remind myself of a few past lessons recently and have a word with myself about my perfectionistic tendencies which so often lead me to self-criticism and destruction!
Writing all of this down sort of ‘cements’ the thinking and gives me the opportunity to identify some unhelpful facets of my own character!
Here are a few things that I’m going to be working on over the next few days:
Being grateful for what I already have
Wanting to improve and learn is what motivates people to develop, evolve, earn and create, but focusing on what you lack rather than on what you already have can give rise to a feeling of constant dissatisfaction.
Most of us are far more blessed than we realise or appreciate, and it’s important to note that blessings aren’t always associated with financial gain.
This is especially important for me because having lost virtually everything to the illness, being grateful for the most basic things has helped me to gain a more balanced perspective on life.
‘You are nothing without your health.’
Health is the biggest blessing of them all and always something to be grateful for even if everything else seems to be going wrong!
Having had such a horrific time with bipolar disorder, I never once forget how important it is to be grateful for my health, and I prioritise my mental health above any other aspect of my life.
It is impossible to do anything without your health as any survivor of severe mental or physical illness will tell you, so always be grateful for feeling well, and don’t ever take being healthy for granted.
Learning to appreciate small blessings and being grateful for what you have now is the way to manifest more of the same, so this week I will be taking time out to reflect on recent achievements and to practice and exercise more patience and self-care.
Disqualifying the positive
I’m not quite as guilty of this as I used to be, but when I was suffering from depression disqualifying the positive came so naturally to me that it became my default setting in virtually every situation.
The depressed brain can’t seem to handle anything that would normally be helpful or constructive, instead it has to indulge itself in negativity, pessimism and cynicism.
This isn’t the sufferer’s fault, but it is definitely worth identifying and recognising this tendency if your brain has a natural propensity to disqualify or discount the positive.
Taking stock and counting the positives
It’s so easy for me to discard the positives and not give myself credit for the work I’ve already done.
This is a classic depression trait that I need to remember to keep in check!
Being a high achiever is often a really great thing because it drives you to become the best version of yourself, but perfectionism can lead to disappointment, and I think it’s always wise to learn how to manage your expectations.
I’ve made so much progress in my journey to help others up to this point. As well as finishing the manuscript for ‘Dying to Stay Alive!’ and writing the 150 blog posts, I’ve recorded two podcasts, had three articles published, done three zoom talks, and given two in person presentations, so that’s not bad going at all.
I’m going to be doing another podcast for an American charity this week, and have a meeting today with a local charity called Lindengate who are based near Wendover, both of whom reached out to me through my posts on LinkedIn.
In between times I will be doing some more work on renovating the cottage, studying French, watching the tennis, and taking some time out to revitalise in nature by walking in the stunning South Oxfordshire hills and woods.
How is anyone else marking the summer solstice this year? Please let me know how you are using this time to benefit your mental health, and remember to make the most of the sunlight and the abundance that it brings – should it ever stop raining!!
If you would like to read more about the summer solstice and unlock some inspiration, then you can find some ideas in an online article which I have attached here.
I will be back next week, fully revitalised, with more mental health and illness educational insights and updates from #dyingtostayalive!
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,