I often wake up with a rock in my stomach. A solid, heavy rock. Sometimes it feels that it’s spinning, other times it’s pulling me down. Occasionally it makes me dizzy or nauseous. Some days it feels bigger, some days I can barely feel it, but it’s still there. That’s how anxiety manifests on me.
I don’t remember when I started struggling with anxiety. I suspect I always had it, since I was a child, I just didn’t know what it was. I was always a worrier. I remember worrying every time an inspector came to school to check us for lice in case I had any and got embarrased in front of the whole school, or whether my skirt was caught in my underwear (this still worries me!). As I grew older, my concerns took various forms and combined with a few traumatic experiences e.g. my ex stalking me for a year or so, emotional abuse etc, I reached a point I couldn’t handle it more than once.
Only in the last few years I manage to cope more efficiently. I just cope, it doesn’t really go away. But even to the day, every now and then it gets out of hand. Only a year ago, I was so stressed I lost my appetite and that gave me sever stomachache. It physically hurt to eat anything. After that, I promised myself I wouldn’t let it reach to that level again.
It can still happen, I know that, but at least I can handle it better. Yoga, running, my guitar, writing, travelling, spending time with loved ones and a lot of me time help me the most.
(check my page for more) and I’ve been chatting about it with strangers, colleagues, friends, and loved ones for years. I don’t think I’ll ever stop!
Although I had a great week, going to the vegetable and fruit market after many many years, a day at the beach, a few days in Berlin (minus the cruel flight times and the extreme heatwave), the halloumi and anari workshop, and relaxing at the swimming pool afterwards, my anxiety levels have been off the roof as my to-do list grows longer and longer!
Anxiety hits you in many shapes and forms. For me it’s psychosomatic, it gives me headaches and stomachaches and occasionally panic attacks (and insomnia), for others it’s heart arrythmia, blurry vision, nightmares, compulsive eating. Anxiety is a beast, it can cause or aggravate other disorders e.g. OCD and depression and it’s quite common.
Today I want to talk to you about my friend Alexei.
We met back in 2019, on a cool October morning. I had just moved to Reggio Calabria, in South Italy working as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher and I spent my morning lesson planning, then Alexei walked in. I still remember the first time I heard his beautiful, deep voice and Southern African accent, and I saw his wide smile.
Alexei had an infectious laughter and a unique, wicked sense of humour. He loved sarcasm and self-depracating humour. Although he was raised in South Africa, his parents were also Greek and he spoke a bit of Greek too. He loved and cared about everyone around him, one of the most empathetic people I’ve met. We connected straight away.
Despite a global pandemic forcing us to spend half of our teaching year indoors and online we managed to make unforgettable memories together like our long weekend in Palermo, wandering around, shopping, drinking, having a laugh and chatting about life, our random pizza dinners in town, co-presenting quiz night, our beach day in Tropea with the rest of the Reggio gang and many, many more little, every day interactions.
We never made it to Taormina or Pentadattilo together before leaving Reggio like we said we would, but he promised to visit me in Cyprus soon.
We messaged each other every now and then but we hadn’t chatted for about a year. Last time we spoke he was really happy with his new job and life in Vienna.
Suddenly, 5 days ago I saw a Facebook post about Alexei, that I still cannot believe.
He died a few weeks ago. He took his own life.
It breaks my heart to think how horrible and lonely it must have been for him. He cared deeply for so many people and we would all have supported him if he had just reached out. I also feel incredibly guilty I let life get in the way and we lost touch for a while.
Depression kills, and even more so amongst men, since society taught them since they were children that sharing their feelings somehow make them look ‘weak’. Alexei had no issue expressing his feelings and his struggles, he was always open about his life, his sexuality and his frustrations, which makes it even harder to believe he kept all this struggle for hismel and reached a point that life was so unbearable for him that he didn’t want to live anymore.
The reason I’m sharing this story is to remind myself and everyone else to keep in touch and check in with our friends and loved ones regularly and please please, if you are struggling, tell someone, you don’t have to go through it alone.
Alexei’s death was incredibly sad and painful for all of us who knew him and we’ve been sharing photos and stories of Alexei with each other over the last week, because that’s how we’ll remember him, having a laugh together, hearing his beautiful laughter and picturing his gorgeous smile.
Mojo: a quality that attracts people to you and makes you successful and full of energy (Cambridge dictionary).
What a week it has been. Suffering from COVID (or any other illness) whilst stuck at home, helpless, depending on others to bring you essentials (thank you mamma!) surely takes its toll on you.
I didn’t make it to a work event on Friday or my colleague’s wedding on Sunday. I felt guilty and sad about it, there was nothing I could do though. I had no physical or mental energy left.
My batteries ran out, completely. Walking longer than a few minutes at a time or concentrating on a task requires serious effort.
I’ve been feeling tired, unmotivated and stuck for a while now, and a week at home with COVID only amplified those feelings.
I ran out of mojo and I don’t know how to refill the pot. I’m tired of running around, always playing catch-up, worring about money, never having enough free time to see all my friends, do everything or even some of the things I’d like to do.
I often ask myself lately, why am I doing this? What can I do to feel motivated again? Am I the only one feeling like this?
This pretty much sums up my week. How’s yours been?
Oh, I did make it for a walk in Kaimakli (a Nicosia district, by the borders) on Saturday evening, since there’s a little festival going on (Pame Kaimakli Festival: Urban Playground). It felt great to be out walking about (a little bit at a time), admiring the architecture and chatting to strangers, reminiscing of childhood memories in Kaimakli, the St Barbara church and father Marios, a priest my mum used to take us to as kids I used to love, with his long beard and pony tail, and of course many memories of Kalamies tavern by dad used to work at for years. The festival is on until Wednesday, for anyone interested!
PS Thank you to all you gorgeous, loving humans who messaged not only get well wishes, but sharing how you’ve been through COVID, symptoms you had and super useful tips on recovering. It makes this blog series even more worth it and it gets us all talking about mental health, which is what this is all about!
So here’s the first in a hopefully long series of exclusively mental health write-ups. I encourage you to and hope you comment and share your experiences too and suggest topics or even write a guest post. I really want to show with this blog series that we all go through similar situations and we all struggle at points, but also how we look after our mental health in general. So, let’s talk about mental health!!
This week’s topic:
Getting COVID after about 2.5 years of desperately trying not to and how it messes up your life for at LEAST a week.
The week had started well. I went back to the office after two weeks (Karim, my other half broke his foot and I worked from home for a couple of weeks to help out around the house), which was eerily quiet (many colleagues seemed to have gotten the new virus variant) and spent the day organising my tasks for the rest of the week as I was going on a work trip to “The Nymph of the Thermaic Gulf”, the beautiful Thessaloniki , the following day until Thursday. I hadn’t been in years and although I would only really have half a day to wander in the little alleys, huge squares and the seafront, I was quite excited about it.
Tuesday was a brilliant, but exhausting day. Karim finally had his MBA thesis presentation (and passed with flying colours!) and the last few months of spending our afternoons or weekends with him studying and me joining him and helping him on the way, finally paid off! But no time to celebrate as I was flying to Thessaloniki in the afternoon! So, after a couple of hours of work, I made it to my colleague’s, Andria, who was joining me on this trip (thanks to super driver aunt Litsa!) and we headed to the airport. We made it to Salonika late at night and after we checked in at the hotel and a quick takeaway souvlaki, we went to bed, knackered.
Wednesday started off well with hotel buffet breakfast and after another morning coffee thanks to Andria’s kindness and generosity we headed to our meeting at the University of Macedonia. I keep forgetting how old and often dingy buildings are in cities like Thessaloniki, so it caught me by surprise how horrible the University building looked like. After a 4-hour long meeting and a quick lunch, we finally had the rest of the afternoon off to explore the town. And it was a gorgeous afternoon, visiting the infamous Saint Demetrios kathedral, the patron saint of Thessaloniki, and walking around town chatting along,
which ended with a delicious, albeit heavy feast at a local taverna, my lovely colleague Loizos, who I absolutely trust when it comes to food, recommended, and which I now definitely recommend, Katsamaka. I went to bed feeling I was about to burst from all the food, tired, and with a bit of a sore throat, but I assumed that was due to all the travel, walking and busy schedule.
I woke up with a bit of a sore throat, but again I brushed it off due to a million other reasons other than COVID. I did a self-test on Tuesday morning, I had no other symptoms anyway and most of people across the Mediterranean are getting ill with all the high temperatures and use of AC, this can’t be the virus.
After a short delay on our flight, Andria and I made it back to Cyprus. Stella, my middle sister was to pick me up from the airport, wander for a bit and then go back to the airport to pick our little sister up, since she was coming back from Brussels for the summer. I asked Stella to bring a self-test with her, just to make sure I didn’t have the virus. In the meantime, my symptoms were getting worse. I felt a bit of a chill and feverish and swallowing really hurt. The test was negative. OK, so it was just a really bad cold. Or that’s what I thought.
By the time I made it home, I completely ran out of energy and I couldn’t swallow from the pain.
I didn’t sleep a wink. I kept tossing and turning, I had high fever, my throat hurt like hell, which made me feel nauseous and dizzy, I barely made it to the loo once, or twice during the night. It was the worst night I had in years.
This can’t be just a cold. I haven’t felt that ill since January 2020, and I remember that because I think that when I got COVID the first time, before the global outbreak, when I had a persistent cough and fever on and off for weeks.
I decided to do another test. Sure enough I tested positive.
I had no idea what the process was from now on and what to expect. My mum of course was my first call for support, as she had got it a few weeks before. She told me to message our GP as soon as possible and asked him to call me when he can. He prescribed a syrup and advised me to take vitamins C and D and Nurofen for the fever. He also told me I had to pop to a pharmacy to get tested so they can report me as a positive case.
After barely making it to the pharmacy, I just lied on the sofa and stayed there. I felt rough as hell for the whole day. I was terrified about my breathing and any other severe symptoms I might develop and I was also devasted all my weekend plans were cancelled. No dinner out on Friday, no beach on Saturday, no mountain festival on Sunday. And the sad realisation, that pretty much my plans for the rest of the week would have to be cancelled. I was really looking forward to the kite making workshop!
But none of this really matters. As long as you are healthy. Isn’t that what we all realise every time our health is compromised? Well yeah, but you can still feel rough and miserable and unhappy and of course scared. I could never be sure whether that pesistent cough and fever I had back in January 2020 was COVID, so catching the virus always scared me as I wasn’t sure what to expect. You never know how your body would react, no matter how healthy you are.
Today is day 4 and after a few days of sneezing, coughing and a sore throat, I now lost my sense of smell, which inevitably affected my sense of taste. For those of you who know me, you know how much I love food, so not being able to smell or taste anything is killing me! But I’m OK. Getting better slowly. The medication definitely helps, as well as Netflix, reading, DuoLingo and puzzles! Mentally I’m exhausted. It hasn’t been the easiest few weeks and this was going to be the first one in a long time to have been going out on events and workshops and the beach. So, not being able to leave the house, go for a run, a walk or really do anything is really painful. It’s only been 4 days but it feels like 4 months!
I managed to give the virus to my sisters (well the little one probably got it from the plane), my other half got it from a night out last week and my mum who has just recovered from it is going around our flats delivering supplies! My dad hasn’t got it yet and fingers crossed he won’t, he is the one we are all the most worried about.
That’s my COVID adventure so far. Now I need to lie down again, my energy levels are running low, and the 39 degree heatwave doesn’t help.
Did you go through it? How did you feel about it? Let’s talk about it.
The second Eurovision semifinal is playing in the background, whilst I lie on my hotel bed, trying to gather my thoughts and feelings. I still couldn’t believe how these series of coincidences brought me back to Southampton, after three years, since I left. It feels like a lifetime ago and at the same time, like yesterday.
I had finished my work meeting a bit early and after a bit of wander into the city I spent 10 years of my life, probably the most transformative years of my life, my 20s, exhausted from the travel the night before, came back to the hotel, had a shower and decided to just rest.
It’s been months since the last time I decided to ‘just rest’, it’s been so long I can’t even remember when the last time that happened was.
The following day I just wandered in town, at my favourite bookshop, walking across the park and for the first time in a while I felt I didn’t have to rush. I just enjoyed doing things I love. I felt I could breathe again.
I’ve realised that for a while now, I have been running around like a headless chicken for so long, I neglected my mental health, which of course has affected my physical health. Headaches, sleepiness, confusion, memory lapses, loss of appetite.
I really don’t understand how being busy became an achievement and something everyone loves to complain about. It’s not an achievement, it’s a sign of no life balance (Trust me, it’s OK to relax and rest for a day or too, rather than feel you have to do something, just because others do. FOMO is an artificial need created by humans, like many others).
And I feel I lost that balance ever since I left this city. I spent Saturday just catching up with friends, and enjoying living in the moment. Moments with old colleagues and loved ones. I instantly felt how much I missed them. How not to, with all the wonderful humans I know. I wish I had more time to see more of my friends.
Lately all I can think of is what the point of life is. Every now and then I get this horrific anxiety and fear about living and dying and the in-between.
What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? Why do I exist?
I read a few books and had countless discussions with friends trying to figure out the answers to these questions, just to calm my brain down and the irrational (or rational? I haven’t decided yet) fear of dying.
As Derren Brown, eloquently argues in his book about happiness , if we were to live for ever, we would have eventually be bored of everything, and life would have no meaning. So, what is the purpose of life?
Happiness is amazing. It’s so amazing it doesn’t matter if it’s yours or not. There’s that lovely thing: “A society grows great when old men plant trees the shade of which they know they will never sit in”. Good people do things for other people. That’s it. The end. Anne told Tony on Ricky Gervais’ brilliant series After Life, which is about a man triyng to deal with the death of his wife whom he absolutely adored.
But even when you find your purpose, and to do that you inevitably need to work on your emotional intelligence, your self-awareness, realising who you are, loving yourself, self management and above else empathy, growing up it’s scary as hell.
My parents are now in their late 50s and 60s and I’m terrified for them, watching them grow older. I want them to live forever. It tears me apart. I’m thinking that maybe is better to stick around now they are growing older and they may need me more, but on the other hand what if I finally find my purpose and that takes me elsewhere, away from them?
It makes me sad thinking that they may find themselves feeling lonely and helpless. And I certainly want to try and enjoy being around them as much as I can before they start forgetting and get that lost look in their eyes (I only recently watched the latest episode of This Is Us and the scene where Rebecca doesn’t recognise her children broke my heart).
So on my birthday, a week after I came back from Southampton, I spent the day with my family and loved ones and I cherished every moment.
When thinking about life, mortality and growing old stresses me out, I just focus in the moment, taking one day at a time, spending time with loved ones and I try to make the world a better place, little by little. When my time comes to go, at least I’ll go happy and not anxious and horrified.
The reason I’m sharing all these thoughts, it’s that I know they are not unique and actually expressing them out loud, or in this case in words, somehow makes them more bearable. And perhaps you can relate, and feel a bit of a relief that these terrifying thoughts haunt not just you but a lot of other people.
Back in February 2016, on the 25th of February, I started a blog, this very blog.
I wanted to for a while but my then boyfriend kept discouraging me, arguing that I had nothing to say.
So, just after our break-up and a series of other unfortunate events (which I wrote about at the time), I started “What I learned before I turned 30”, a personal journal sharing what I learned so far in life, a few months just before I turned 30, which actually has helped me (and it still does) to make sense of what was happening at the time and helpfully reassure others that they are not alone, we all struggle in life.
A few years later, I decided to change the name of the blog, since I had already turned 30 and it didn’t make sense anymore. At the time I thought it was a good idea to name it ‘Eleni’s world’ since it was more autobiographical and a mix of different things, and honestly I couldn’t think of a better name.
A few days ago, whilst pondering how to make more time for myself and things I enjoy doing, before I turn completely crazy and exhausted from life, running around like a headless chicken, I had an epiphany.
Why don’t I name my blog ‘Lessons I learned after I turned 30’?
I haven’t been posting as often lately, though I really want to and I’m planning to, and giving the blog a revamp and a more specific identity can movitate me to do that.
So here it is. The new name of my blog.
Lessons I Learned after I turned 30, let it be English or Life lessons, lessons from my travels, personal and work life.
It often comes to my mind, that, when I was in high school, I’d regularly get upset about the fact I couldn’t accurately, and in the way I truly wished, articulate my thoughts and opinions when writing essays. There was always a barrier. There was always something missing.
Years later, when I started putting my thoughts on paper (and later on a blog) it somehow became easier, as if I was released from whatever kept my expressive side blocked and silenced. And I feel that’s how talking about mental health evolved over the years not just for me, but for the rest of the world too.
Although I studied psychology for my first degree, even then, about 18 years ago (I’m almost 36, to save you from the trouble of calculating my age), there was a stigma about it. Not many (if any) would openly admit they suffered from depression, or anxiety, or autism, or bipolar disorder, or panic attacks, as it was considered a weakness or pure ‘insanity’. You would only see a psychologist if you were ‘crazy’.
After living in the UK for 10 years, having volunteered for a mental charity, having written about depression and anxiety myself, seeing, listening and reading about people openly sharing their feelings and troubles, witnessing mental health organisations growing in numbers and popularity (NGOs such as the Samaritans or Mind or social enterprises like the brilliant Touch I used to volunteer for) I was under the impression things would have progressed in Cyprus too, not to the degree they did in the UK, but certainly to some extent.
Surely by now people would have realised that is as important (if not more) to look after their mental health the way they look after their physical health. If you break your leg, you’d go to the doctor, if you are paralysed from anxiety, you’d go to a psychologist, right? Not to mention the effects of the digital era, as well as the global pandemic on mental health, and the fact that we are all busy, all the time. One day we’ll reach to a point we’ll have no time to breathe (just writing about it stresses me out) .
A few days ago, whilst enjoying a coffee on my own at a local cafe, I was brainstorming ideas on what organisation I can volunteer for, and I was unpleasantly surprised to discover after looking up mental health NGOs to volunteer that there aren’t really any on the island!
Why is that? Is it because there’s still stigma around mental health here? Are people here still in denial about the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing? Are they scared to admit when they are struggling? Do they still perceive sharing your feelings as a weakness (it’s one of the hardest things to do actually and it shows strength and character, a brilliant example of the power of vulnerability as Bene Brown eloquently talked about it a few years ago https://youtu.be/iCvmsMzlF7o) ? Is it because there isn’t enough interest by locals or psychologists?
I have been talking about it with a few friends and colleagues lately and I’m still baffled why that is and I wish I had the means to set up a mental health NGO myself, just to make a start.
For now I can’t, but what I can do is continue to talk about mental health with friends, family and strangers, because every time I do, someone would relate to and share their own experiences (which I love to hear about, everyday human stories are so powerful in so many ways) and that’s a clear sign that any outlets to talk about mental health struggles with others in a safe, non-judgmental environment, where you can also receive relevant advice and/or training on how to identify signs or symptoms of a person suffering would be of great benefit.
Who knows, maybe we can soon start a movement and change things up on the island, at least when it comes to mental health!
Wrapped up in a blanket on my sofa, Friends playing in the background, the Christmas tree lights warming up the place, I’m re-reading my New Year wish for 2021 and I can’t help but think how lucky I truly am to be surrounded by people I love at home and at work, proud of what I achieved over the last 12 months and the fact that my friends, family and I we are healthy and safe.
Most of us found 2020 challenging (to say the least) but not many thought 2021 was going to be equally bad if not worse than 2020.
The year didn’t quite start off on the right foot. Locked inside again, like a caged animal, I knew, as the majority of the planet did, what to expect, which somehow made it less tolerable than the first time I experienced a lockdown. This time nobody tried a lot of new things, nobody aspired to become a home chef, we were all sick and tired of this situation.
I felt restless, eager to get out and I still carried the weight of the previous lockdown (s), as most of us did and I turned into healthy eating and exercising. I feel as humans we desperately needed it.
Yoga with Adriene 30 day revolution definitely helped to keep me mentally stable in January and somehow after that the year just flew by.
Although I spent almost half of the year in lockdown, looking back I feel I achieved a lot and grew workwise and personally.
On a personal level, although I admit I didn’t manage my work-life balance well and didn’t have much free time for myself, I rediscovered my love for running, I met the ambassador of Austria, I started dating again after years of avoiding it, I met amazing humans, I caught up with friends I hadn’t seen for years and I made new friends I already love, I took part in a week long sustainability challenge which helped me realise how much more I can do to protect the planet, after years of thinking about it and wanting it I finally got braces so I can fix my smile, I had a great summer and Christmas with friends and loved ones and lastly, I flew again, this time to beautiful Leuven with my best friends and sisters. God I felt so alive and happy to be able to travel again!
On a professional level, well I spent most of my time working and though exhausting at times, I learned A LOT, way more than I expected in a year. I ran focus groups, designed surveys, interviewed people, wrote and published articles and reports, organised an (online) event, I closed off a project, produced a serious board game, created 2 modules, hosted a transnational project meeting and almost met the Pope, amongst other things. I love my job and my colleagues, despite the heavy workload!
At some point in the year I went through a major anxiety crisis, during which I almost stopped eating completely and I was in pain because of it for a month. After that, I promised myself I’ll never let it go that far.
I don’t regret anything but I do wish I savoured and enjoyed everyday life more than I did and stressed less. Because it doesn’t really matter what you or I or anyone else achieved.
I feel everyone needs to hear though that if the only thing you did in 2021 was trying to survive, that’s an achievement in itself and you should be proud of it.
I’ve been reading Derren Brown’s Happy again, which I’ve recommended to all my friends already and it reminded me that as humans we don’t need much to be happy if you ignore the artificial needs marketing firms have been creating for years. We just need health, love and to keep growing.
My New Year wish is, consequently, similar to last year.
Keep growing and learning as a human, try new things, keep moving on but above all enjoy moments, love and be loved, and make memories with special people. And travel every now and then.
And I hope I make it back to my second home I miss more and more as time goes by, the UK and give all my friend there a tight hug.
On my way to work a few days ago I noticed a guy enjoying a bite of his sandwich. He looked so content, truly happy he had his breakfast whilst walking down town and I felt a bit jealous. I wish I was that happy.
Last November I wrote about this disturbingly confusing state of mind, not feeling myself (you can read about it here). I never would have thought that almost 8 months later, I’d still feel lost and not that happy.
I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while, hoping it will help my brain to at least attempt to make some sense out of it but all I could produce were interjections of confusion and desperation (e.g. AAAAHHHHH), but I’m now at a place I can better articulate my thoughts.
Have you ever experienced heavy turbulence on a plane? Holding on tight, scared to death but not able to do anything, that feeling of having no control?
That’s how I’ve felt for a while, intensified by the recent pandemic. I feel I can’t plan anything, I have no free time for myself, hell sometimes I feel I have no time to think. I’m stuck and I’m not sure what’s the best way out because I just don’t feel I’m in control and my confidence also went down a notch.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for what I have, a job, a place to live, my friends and family, my loved ones. I’m happy for these.
But I know I can and want to do more and the lack of me-time and inability to make any firm plans or big changes at the moment are feeding my misery.
So what can I do? Well, focus on what I can control for now and work on improving myself on all fronts in order to make moving forward in a turmoil easier. So here’s one of the things I did.
I recently got braces.
‘How come you decided to do that at this (*late) age?’ a colleague asked.
I was taken aback. I didn’t expect such a question. I guess because I wouldn’t ask something like that and I wouldnt expect someone as open-minded and liberal as him ask such an old-fashioned in a sense question. Do only kids get braces? Does getting braces have an age limit? Does anything really have or should have an age limit?
‘It’s not just for aesthetic reasons, it will also help my bite, it was needed to be done’, I said. I didn’t want to point out the obvious, that the question was not appropriate, or share my deepest insecurities with a stranger, that I always hated my crooked tooth and the side gap I had and I’ve been wanting to fix it for years but couldn’t afford it or the timing wasn’t right.
It’s been almost two months now and I don’t enjoy wearing braces, they are not the prettiest and are QUITE uncomfortable, they need constant cleaning and looking after. I can’t wait to take them out. Weirdly, though I hate them I also like them, because at least I have something to look forward to and that helps.
Getting braces isn’t the only change I made or going to make, but it’s just an example of how doing something with an ‘end date’ , (especially in time like this when uncertainty is part of our life and noone knows when this horrid situation will end), can help you move forward or feel a bit less stuck at least.
PS. Here it’s me with braces, in case you were wondering.
I first opened my eyes at 6am. My head still hurt from the day before and the feeling of exhaustion still lingered.
No, I didn’t have a wild night out drinking and dancing. That’s not my cup of tea, though I wish I did for once (I actually missed one of my dearest friends’ birthday party, which I feel devastated about) but instead I suffered one of my occasional migraines, which blurs my vision and keeps me paralysed in pain, lying down in a dark spot until it goes away.
I’m not surprised this God Almighty migraine happened when it did though. When my mind and body are working overtime for a while as soon as I get a minute to relax, my body doesn’t miss the opportunity to let me know I overdid it and I need to slow down. And it does that in the worst, most painful way possible, quite often a migraine.
Lately I had close to zero time to myself (other than my morning running and/or yoga), I haven’t made a Love to Learn English mini-lesson for a few weeks, I haven’t played the guitar for a while, I had to cancel some of the my English lessons and some days I hadn’t even had time to think, especially this last week. By the way congratulations to my little sister for getting her Maths degree. I’m glad I made it to her graduation!
Why am I writing about a migraine? Because ever since I moved back I often forget that I shouldn’t succumb to social pressure and I feel it A LOT back in Cyprus. It’s as if people don’t know how to be by themselves and there is always something to do. I’m still not used to being back, let alone adapting to this life, particularly now that lock-down is over (for the foreseeable future anyway) and what really helps me in busy and stressful periods is having time to myself, rest and have time to figure things out.
I just need to remember I don’t need to go out or do something every day and I not just want, I NEED to remember to make time for myself, otherwise I will keep losing myself and damage my physical and mental health.
So today’s advice from a struggling-with-stress-still-figuring-life-out-but-also-already-learned-a-lot 35 year old is ALWAYS remember to make time for yourself, there’s nothing wrong with declining an invite or postponing a lesson and having an evening to yourself.You need to look after yourself and devote time on your wellbeing, in whatever way it works for you, a relaxing pampering afternoon, reading a book, a walk in nature, anything that gives you peace of mind . And don’t worry about your friends, if they love you, they will understand.