Minding My Mind – Take Two (Week 1)

Remember in September when I vowed to make some major lifestyle changes and kick my shockingly bad eating habits? Well, just like most things in life, things seldom follow the plan you imagined and I guess you could say I ‘failed’ miserably, but I prefer to look at it as a learning curve. In my last ‘Minding My Mind’ piece, I spoke about how I’d been feeling this ’emptiness’ that I can’t quite put into words, and being honest, that feeling continued long after I finished that post. It occurred to me that this ’emptiness’ I’d been feeling was my body and mind’s way of letting me know it was feeling a bit neglected, and at that moment, it all clicked into place, yet my actions didn’t quite catch up with that realisation.

While I’d identified the problem and figured out what changes needed to be made, there was still this feeling inside that prevented me from allowing myself to feel better. “What’s the point?” I’d think subconsciously, “you’re only going to fail anyway”. Despite the whole host of grand ideas and plans I’d put in place, my lack of self-belief in and respect for myself was what was truly holding me back, and it wasn’t until I realised this that I was actually able to make a start on getting things back on track.

During a mindfulness exercise in a therapy session a few weeks back, the therapist asked me to visualise a ‘safe place’ where I felt at ease and experienced zero anxiety. For some reason, the first image that entered my mind was of myself, running through a forest, covered in crisp leaves, the fresh air filling my lungs. So simple, yet so enchanting, I just couldn’t get that image out of my mind after leaving the room, and so, almost every morning since that day, I’ve went out and sought that ‘happy place’ for real, and it’s honestly done me the world of good. It’s pretty difficult to not feel content with life when you’re surrounded by these stunning scenes..

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North Mall Campus, UCC

 

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Fitzgerald’s Park

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The Shakey Bridge

 

In relation to diet, I’ve made some pretty big changes in what I’ve been eating day to day and surprisingly enough, I’m somehow finding the willpower to stick to them. For the past week, I’ve cut out all processed foods, dairy products, high-sugar drinks/snacks and massively increased my fruit and vegetable intake. I won’t say it’s been a walk in the park but it’s certainly attainable and I’m 100% feeling the benefits of it already. Personally speaking, mood swings and anxiety usually drive me to one of two extremes; either excessive eating of the wrong foods or starving myself. Of course, neither of these choices are healthy, so learning to work with food in a more positive light is definitely proving successful this time around and can already see an increase in my energy leaves and more stability in my moods.

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Post-run breakfast packed with berries and seeds for lots of vitamins and fibre

 

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Opting for protein-rich Fulfil bars instead of the sugar-laden snacks I’d usually reach for after a stressful day of labs or lectures

The most significant change (for the better) I’ve noticed in myself over the last week or two is my attitude towards life as a whole. I’ll admit, I can be quite a pessimist at times, often seeing things from a ‘glass half empty’ perspective, but recently, I’m learning to let the insignificant things fly over my head and stop ‘sweating the small stuff’ so much – it really does feel fantastic once you learn to let go of what you really have no control over anyway. I’m also learning to appreciate the simple, but nonetheless beautiful, things around me. Capturing photos of the pretty fallen autumn leaves, the taste of fresh berries, meeting the cutest dogs during my morning strolls – in a world that’s filled with misery and injustice, it’s so important to appreciate the slight yet oh-so significant things that make us smile. Gaining the ability to feel that kind of happiness and contentment again has given me the reassurance that I’m finally on the right track again. I don’t doubt that some days will be tougher than others, and that I won’t always make it out for my 6.30am runs, but I’m only human and I’m going to give it my very best shot this time, I’ve made that promise to myself, the only person I’ll really be letting down if I don’t.

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J x

*Happiness Level – Getting There*

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