Are you doing YOUR thing? – Donna Thistlethwaite

Do you feel like you’re wading through mud some days? Have you found yourself struggling more than you would have expected during this pandemic? Despite the impression we can get from our social media feeds, many people that I speak are saying they’ve been experiencing unexpected emotional or mental health challenges during this time.

It can hit us even if we haven’t been adversely affected by the pandemic. As a friend put it, “I’m not actually feeling anxious about the virus, work, or even the future but I’m not feeling great and I’m making life choices that I can’t understand”. Some of the choices he was referring to were drinking excessively, not cycling even though he loves it and eating food that doesn’t make him feel good. Sometimes how we feel can defy logic, it’s not rational, but it’s real and generally, we need to take action to shift or address it.

If you’re really struggling today, please reach out to someone for a chat … friend, family, colleague or Lifeline on 13 11 14 for anonymous support 24 x 7. The very process of talking about how we’re feeling can sometimes be all we need to start moving out of a funk. Professional help can be great to consider too as it can often accelerate the journey to feeling awesome again.

Something I’ve found can improve our health and wellbeing is doing “your thing”. If you’ve heard me speak before you would have heard me talk of its power. You recognise “your thing” by its ability to energise you, to slow down time (five hours can feel like 15 minutes), and keep you in the moment. It fills your cup. The field of positive psychology refers to it as your flow state and many articles have confirmed it’s positive effect of our wellbeing. Doing “your thing” is one of the six strategies I discovered to help us to THRIVE in life and which dramatically improved my own life.

Do you know what “your thing” is? Are you doing it at the moment? The friend I spoke of told me that even though he knows that cycling is his thing, he’s having trouble making it happen. For instance, he planned to ride on Thursday but his To-Do list was huge so he opted to put those hours towards work instead.

Now he might have saved himself some time that morning but it’s very likely that by doing his thing, his time would have expanded that day. He would have had more energy, a spring in his step even, and the day would likely have flowed better.  And of course, he wouldn’t have been contending with the negative energy of chastising himself all day for not prioritising his ride. Our thing is an investment rather than an expense and like many investments, it creates positive returns in our life.

One of the keys to achieving the potential of “your thing” is to embed into your routine. Easier said than done lately with restrictions, changed working environments, and new pressures. Try looking at the situation from a ‘how’ lens. ‘How’ can you make it happen? What can you shift around? Do you need to modify it in some way, eg. location, timing, equipment? Do you need to ask for help to make it happen?

It’s certainly become clear that this pandemic resembles a marathon much more than a sprint. There may well be times when your mental health will be tested. A suite of resilience strategies, including doing ‘your thing’ can help position you to THRIVE during this time and to bounce back should you find yourself struggling for a time.

 

Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid instructor with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE.

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