As someone who tries to stay on the optimistic side of life, I often look for the lessons to be learned when faced with challenges. As in when the stress of the challenge is starting to dissipate, some of the lessons are pointed out to me. After the ups and downs of emotions from the last couple of months and facing a few dark days in between, navigating our mental health has been tougher than ever. Many of the coping mechanisms I use for stress, namely being out and around people at the gym, yoga studio, coffee shop and my favourite pub are not available to me. At the same time, my introverted side wants to retreat into pure silence and be entirely alone – also not so easy right now.
Interestingly enough I find myself picking up some of the things I used to do as a kid to bring me comfort. I’ve just started a needlepoint project. I’ve had a continuous puzzle on the go for weeks, but my biggest guilty pleasure is watching soaps. Particularly Days of Our Lives and Young and the Restless, to which my grandmother got me hooked when I was a kid, made even more fun right now when Y&R are literally showing those vintage episodes. Zoning out for an hour spent with characters I’ve known longer than most of my friends settles me. My cat cuddles in and we both just chill. Granted this certainly isn’t solving all my problems, but a bit of escapism and downtime is helping. Like comfort TV if that’s a thing. I suppose for the TV generation it is. Maybe I should also start looking for re-runs of Who’s the Boss and Cheers. Simple problems, simple solutions.
If you were a kid who grew up before the internet or dedicated channels to cartoons whenever you wanted, a lot of summer probably looked just like this. Constantly at mom or dad… I’m bored, and their response of “go outside” or more simply “well find something to do” was as good as you were going to get. However, those years taught us about our own resilience. We became creative, tried new things or sometimes just lay on the sidewalk watching an anthill for hours at a time. As kids, we had to become our own source for happiness. Being bored fueled our imagination but also allowed us to rest, to look around at the world and just take it in. It’s been years, perhaps decades since we’ve had these most basic problems. But it also says a lot for our mental health. Either too busy we can’t breathe, or the overwhelm of not knowing what to do with our self.
Our time is now! to dig in and find those same resources that kept us afloat. That got us excited for our day. Not everything we do has to have a purpose. Sometimes we can just be. If sitting on the couch and watching soaps is what you need to help you today, I’m certainly not going to be judging you – you shouldn’t be either. On a rainy day, what would your 12 year-old self do? How will you become the source of your own happiness right now?