Hi there! Rachel here, one of the peer connectors at Galway Community Café. I have been on my journey with my mental health for about twenty years now. Over time, I have found a number of aspects and tools which have helped me either in times of struggle, in maintaining my mental health, or in supporting those around me which I would like to share with you.
Music has always been and continues to be, a massive part in helping me in a variety of situations and emotional states. It has the power to help me calm down when I want to relax, the power to make me cry when I feel like I need to, it can make me feel like an absolute badass warrior and summon an inner belief and confidence that I don’t always get to see! It has helped me build connections with others, and to use it as a tool to work with others. Music is something I will forever be grateful for over the years, as it was there for me when I felt no one was.
The Galway Community Café team have put together a list of songs which make us feel all sorts of ways, check it out here
Nature and the Outdoors
There is something about the feeling of crisp cold air in my lungs that grounds me. The pitter-patter of raindrops on my skin, or on the leafy canopy above me; (special mention for those stormy nights when I’m cuddled up inside which helps calm me). The crunching of leaves underfoot, watching the tide ebb and flow on the gorgeous Galway beaches, the beauty of the sunset and stargazing in the night sky. I have been fortunate enough to be able to travel, but the main consistent is a want and a need to be outside and in nature. Being mindful in nature helps soothe my anxious mind. It has helped me to see the beauty in the world when my mind is convincing me that everything is dark and bleak. It has offered and given me an escape from my bed and house when I just can’t face seeing anyone. There are no expectations* from anything; the trees, the grass, the rain or sun, or anything to be any particular way, other than how I am and where I am at, and that is something I am appreciative of. (*The donkeys in the fields near me expect apples, but I am okay with that!)
Acknowledging that Sometimes, things aren’t so great.
Up until the last few years, I would not let myself acknowledge where I was at, that it wasn’t my fault or that I was feeling some kind of way. I would hide how I was feeling (as best I could) from others, and beat myself down over feeling out of sorts. It wasn’t until I started acknowledging to myself and others where I was at, that I started to feel much more comfortable in the discomfort. By acknowledging it, there was no hidden secrets or feelings I was keeping from those around me, there were no presumptions that I was in a mood, I was being open and honest.
Whether it is acknowledging it to yourself or to others; sometimes things are shit. And that’s okay.
Taking Time and Space
Meditation, mindfulness and journaling. These were always things I said that weren’t for me, that didn’t work for me and I didn’t want to try. But actually, I have come to realise that I actually do use these kinds of tools, just not in the stereotypical way I perceived them.
“I can’t keep a diary about my feelings,” I told myself; yet I was able to do a brain dump where I just emptied what was in my mind onto a page, or log my mood on an app.
“I can’t meditate or be mindful, my brain just doesn’t get it”; yet I was able to sit in the forest and listen to the rustling of the leaves, or sit and watch the tide for hours.
My perception of journaling, meditation and mindfulness was one which “if I don’t do it this way, then it’s not right”; but when I actually allowed myself space to reflect, I came to understand that it already was working for me, I just hadn’t realised it.
There are many other grounding techniques, sensory strategies, different reflection tools and techniques which I use, but I think this may be a good place to start and keep the aforementioned for another time.
Hopefully one of these tools might help you, or at least help you get to a space to think about what may be some of your tools and techniques!
Until next time, Rachel.