Blogging + time = positive mental health

I really do love scrolling down the Meet and Greet section of my site. Every single day I am getting new additions to this and people seem to really enjoy introducing themselves and having a browse of other blogs. It is great to see and I am pleased I have it on here.

As I have said a few times because of the number of comments I receive here I am not going to try and respond and clog up the feed, I would prefer to leave it clean. I can barely keep up with daily blog comments and my about me section, not that I would consider this a bad thing for a second. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

However every now and then I will spot a contribution that catches my eye. Elizabeth over at Living with Mental Illness asked me a question that I have answered recently in comments, however with the theme of mental illness I will try to answer with this topic incorporated.

 


How do you reach a larger audience with reads and follows? I would greatly appreciate any advice you can share! Thank you in advance.


 

I have always wanted to expand my blog as much as I can. Not really out of an ego although we all have one to some extent, but because I would love to reach as many people as possible with my thoughts and opinions. The further we reach, the more people we will meet with the same outlook on life. We will also reach people that disagree but are willing to engage in interesting conversation. The more people I reach, the bigger the audience that would potentially read a book that I may publish further down the line. Also, the opportunities through blogging increase as it grows. Would I like to have a living outside of the 9-5? You bet.

In my late teens and twenties I started suffering from anxiety and a mild form of depression. Not to the extent that some people have it but enough to see me go to therapy for a few months. I realised that the more time I had to be in my head, the more these conditions manifested into something ugly. As a result this totally demotivated me to blog which only went and gave me more free time to think negative thoughts and a whirlpool opened up below me.

Another factor was the nature of my blog. I had a blog that originally started out just as I was leaving religion, and many of my posts would reflect on existential questions and philosophy. Naturally, putting my non religious views out there to the world caused occasional debates and I often went out to seek them. Not to be a troll but because I really wanted the truth. But because of this blogging wasn’t always fun, and when I was feeling very low I needed something (no pun intended!) to raise my spirits. I ignored my blog for this reason as it didn’t appeal to me when I was at my worst.

This inspired me to change up my blog style and theme. I wanted a happier blog full of colour and photographs. I also decided to travel to Australia as I felt this would be a great distraction from my anxiety, and at the same time I could give much more positive blog posts to the world. I am so glad I did this.

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One thing that helps keep my my mind stimulated is continuous blogging. I now spend many hours a day here and it is something I love to do. I love watching it grow and everyday is a new challenge to write about something which is a great mental exercise. Now this is the beautiful part. Blogging frequently does more than just keep us stimulated and- hopefully- free from mental anguish. It means more and more people are able to find our blog. People in the same boat and people that would love to see life from our perspective. No one is perfect, and hearing from others with daily struggles reminds us that we are all human and that we shouldn’t strive for perfection.

Despite having this blog since 2014, it was only in September 2017 that I started to really put effort into this website. That was when I landed in Sydney and my motivation to blog increased tenfold. I had a two year working holiday to show family and friends back home and every day was a new experience. But I couldn’t just post and expect people to come over and read. I had to engage too. This is half of what I do everyday, crossing over to other peoples blogs and introducing myself. If I didn’t do this my blog wouldn’t be as popular. I realised that people enjoy conversation. We all do, we are social creatures and a conversation unites us. No one wants to spend all their time reading in the same way we don’t want to simply listen to someone wanting to speak all the time. We like to have a say and make it a conversation rather than a lecture. I have found some amazing blogs and people this way.

I then found myself with a much larger community of people that I was engaging with. The same thing happens when we decide to leave our house and explore the neighborhood… the people that didn’t know we existed do now and are happy to say ‘hey’! It isn’t that people don’t want to speak to us, it is that they aren’t aware that we are here to speak to us in the first place.

I thanked 600 people whilst I was at the Blue Mountains in November 2017 for following my blog, and I expect at the end of the month I will be thanking 7,000. A huge change in 13 months, and that change is all down to the time spent on my blog and engaging with others.

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I keep blogging as it has been a great form of therapy, and if I stop I am unsure whether or not I will sink to those depths again. Keeping busy is a great remedy, and I can see why so many people blog. It is the chosen method for many to keep their heads above the water, and at the same time be creative. It is truly turning a negative into a positive and is great to see.

I hope this answered the question, and if anyone has any thoughts on this topic please feel free to let me know. As always, I will see you in the comments!

 

Sam


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,

Sam

There are two kinds of traveller

This post has been my thoughts for a few weeks. Something that I have wanted to post after recent conversations, and from the people I have met in the last 12 months. Ironically I was going to post it a couple of days back, however due to a bout of anxiety I put it off and stayed away from my blog for a couple days.

There is, from my travelling experience, two types of traveller. This opinion was formed from my experiences as I make my way around the places I have been fortunate enough to visit, and from speaking to people of all walks of life on these journeys. It has really helped me to understand why people travel and that travel isn’t always about having fun in the sun.

The first kind of traveller can be split into two groups. These are business and leisure travellers.

Those wanting to learn.

These are people eager to travel. The ones that are hungry for adventure or personal development. Someone wanting to expand their horizons, become more confident and learn about new cultures. It could also be someone travelling with work, wanting to develop in their career and travelling is a requirement in the role. The common link between the two is that travelling is the gateway to development and new experiences. The learning aspect that drives them to board that plane.

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But these aren’t the only people that travel. It isn’t always with high ambitions and the pursuit of fun. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

The escape of pain and misery.

Not everyone that heads to the airport does so with a giant smile on their face as they hand over the passport. Despite the Facebook feed being flooded with messages from family stating how jealous they are, with those all too common ‘is there room in your suitcase for me!?‘ comments, spending a week, or month or even a year abroad isn’t always a guarantee for happiness.

It certainly is an escape from the norm. However what that ‘norm’ is exactly largely determines why that person is travelling. A relatively comfortable existence often results in boredom and the need for adventure. Leaving a boring routine, but not necessarily a miserable life. But for some- and sadly, a fairly large percentage of people- travel is a way to escape. Whether this escape is from people, a place or even themselves, travel is used as a distraction.

I have realised this as I meet new people. Some backpackers have left poisonous relationships or family members. Some have suffered losses of close family or friends and needed to take a break from the pressures of life back home. Some have terminal illnesses and this may be the last time they get to see certain places they have had on the bucket list. The last one in particular hit me hard not too long ago as I checked in a couple into a hotel in Sydney. I asked rather merrily what their reasons for visiting were and the husband stated that his wife was terminally ill and this would be one of their last trips together. I would have had no idea as she looked relatively healthy as she stood there whilst I went through the check in process, and no training can prepare you for such an answer. I decided not to show too much emotion, acknowledged what was said and assured them a great stay with us, and that we would be here 24/7 if they needed anything during their stay. A quick check in, I felt they did not need a reminder of how tragic this situation is for them and their loved ones.

This was just one example of the sad reality of life, and the troubles we all face day to day. Whether it is depression that makes someone feel the need to escape their thoughts and find a way to try and stimulate themselves outside the 9-5, or wanting some alone time to take in some recent news, the view outside of the airplane window isn’t always met with excitement. It can be another chance to escape some kind of suffering.

I would put myself in both of these categories. Since I left the UK for the USA in 2010 on my first trip abroad alone, I have always desired for more travel. I made so many lifetime friends, gained confidence and learned that alone time is great. But then in 2013, my dad died. After this I was drained of any motivation to travel, however I realised that travel helped to keep depression and anxiety at bay with so many new experiences on a daily basis. The motivation to get up and do things can be difficult after such a loss, but because I new what travel was like prior to this, I realised it would be a remedy and a positive distraction from the negative feelings.

I know there are people out there that will benefit from this. Not to forget such an event, but to make the most of the time we have and get out and explore. Knowing so many others are going through similar things, knowing we aren’t alone and having new conversations with new people about similar experiences can be a great therapy. Travel isn’t always filled with happy people smiling 24/7 like their social media portrays. It is a mix of all kinds of people travelling for many different reasons.

And with this, what is your reasons for travelling?


Featured Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash


 

Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging!

 

I had a panic attack yesterday

I wanted to post this as I’ve been silent for the last day or so and I wanted to give the reason for it. I had a very strange day yesterday, I was trying to be productive in a cafe, I set up my laptop to blog and a couple of events triggered a reaction that sent my plans out of the window. 

I was in the cafe in the city library, pretty tired from the night before. I had an iced coffee on route, but it didn’t really wake me up. So, I decided to order a large coffee in the cafe. This would later turn out to be a mistake.

The coffee started to kick in, and I am terrible at making drinks last. I had a few large gulps straight away  so the caffeine quickly got to work. Before I knew it I was full of energy, too much. I started to get the shakes and regret ordering a large. 

Now I’m not sure if you are aware, but it is Riverfire in Brisbane this weekend and tonight is going to be pretty epic on the river. There are military flybys going on, as well as a firework display this evening. Yesterday there was a practice run, one I wasn’t expecting. As I was trying to focus on blogging, a jet flew by and the sudden sound of it caught me off guard. Everyone in the library turned their heads to see what it was about, at this point I had no idea what was happening as the sound became deafening. I thought a plane was crashing! I’m an anxious person in general, and I often fear the worst. Despite realising that this was a flyby in preparation for today, I still went into shock. It sounds so silly, and I had no idea a panic attack could occur due to a coffee and a low flying jet, but I did. I love an airshow, and I love the roar of a low flying airplane, however as I couldn’t tell what the sound was as there was no visuals to go along with it, it just set me off. 

I tried to open Instagram on my phone to distract me however I could barely hold it in my now trembling hand. I struggled to even press the power switch on my laptop as I knew I couldn’t stay sitting there, so I just shut the lid and left the cafe. I wanted to go outside to see the plane as a method to calm my nerves, I needed to confirm that what I heard was indeed harmless. I did so, and I managed to compose myself and get a couple of videos and shots of the scene.


Despite this and having no reason to panic, the thought of having that happen again was enough for it to, you guessed it, happen again. I was outside as the jet was circling above, and every low pass just created more anxiety. I had to put music on to calm me down, as I tried to walk back inside my legs were weak and I started to see stars. Oddly enough, my heart rate didn’t seem to increase, although I was expecting it to. I kept taking deep breaths, drank plenty of water and sat down as soon as I made it back inside. 

I sat on a chair in the library for 45 minutes or so until I calmed down and felt like I could walk back home. I just sat there staring at the floor, letting it take its course as well as reminding myself that it will pass. Another reason I love the internet is that I typed what to do during a panic attack and instantly I was reading a step by step guide as to what I should be doing. It was pretty reassuring and we are fortunate to get instant knowledge at our fingertips, something previous generations were unable to do. 

It was a pretty terrifying experience, and I haven’t had a coffee since. It reminded me that panic attacks are real and not to be taken lightly. It also made me think how terrifying it must be to be in a warzone, if I could be in this state in a calm and peaceful environment. No wonder people flee across borders. 

I know people will be able to relate to this post, and I like that I can provide my thoughts and feelings on this website. As I type the planes are doing some rapid flybys, and I love it. The mind is pretty unpredictable and very scary at times, and just because someone was okay yesterday doesn’t mean they have to be today. I was that person yesterday, and if I have any advice for myself or others, it is that the feelings do pass. It’s all about riding the wave and knowing that time is a great healer. 

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The storm lifted at the right time

I was reading the newspaper at work today and the front page article was of the newly opened section of George Street in Sydney. It looked great so I went down and snapped it for myself. Just before I finished work, a huge storm hit with thunder louder than I have heard it in years. Six years in fact, I remember hearing it as loud when I was in Texas during a storm as intense and the lightning hit pretty close. So close that the thunder wasn’t a rumble, it was a bang. I could almost feel it.

The day brightened nicely and I could take this shot of the street beautifully decorated for Christmas.


As the rain was pelting our windows prior to this, my colleague informed me of her dislike of storms. If I’m indoors, I am more than happy to watch the storm brewing and bring the city to a standstill. 

This hasn’t always been the case. During periods of anxiety and depression I did not have such a fascination. I had a fear. The storm was an accurate metaphor for my mental health, something that came with little warning and reminded me that I could do little other than ride it out. Some things in life cannot be controlled and there are periods where I am much more content with that. 

If anything, these storms make the day look even brighter after the clouds dissipate. Sometimes we need these dark periods to appreciate the light fighting it’s way through. You can decide for yourself whether you read this from a weather or mental health perspective, despite being two different aspects of our lives they share a lot of similarities.