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Although it is common knowledge that to help others, we must help ourselves first, this has been ridiculously easy to forget especially during the pandemic. I have not been one to find balance in this solitude, so as society is opening up little by little, my heart is coming along as well, little by little. I am all about peer support and that is why I am going to share some of the steps I have taken this autumn to improve my wellness.

  • Getting a gym membership

I have always enjoyed movement and once I get into the routine, it becomes one of the purest forms of self-love practice. I am still looking for a sport or a hobby that would be all about learning something new and fun, but for now, going to the gym has been nothing but lovely! Giving good stimulation for the respiratory system, muscles, joints, and the heart does wonders for the brain as well, and the darkest afternoon can turn into a relaxed night after a mindful workout.

  • Listening to my creative self

Creativity is such an important part of being a human, and perhaps because of that, we are wary of it and sometimes even learn to hide it. These days I often feel stuck, and it is through music, stories, writing, and comedy that I am able to realize it is not that serious and that it is, in fact, beautiful. When looked at in the light of creative endeavors, life seems to get a special glow, working like a lens that simply shows the beauty of the now.

  • Going to therapy (sometimes concrete steps help)

After a long time, I met up with a nurse to talk about the difficulties in my life that have been especially stagnant due to the pandemic. Although I like to think we have moved on from mental health being a taboo in society, there has still been a lingering feeling of it “not being as serious” as to get help or to talk to a professional. For me, there have been recurring problems around self-worth which essentially will sabotage other areas of life if not treated, and it has paid off to open up about it to someone out of my circle.

  • Learning to recognize what I need and want (material, spiritual, mental, physical)

One of my bad habits is making myself believe I don’t know what I need or want. Sometimes it manifests as observing others closely to not make mistakes or fail – and in that process, I have learned to ignore my intuition. In this world, we need food, sometimes new plates or a new bed, and there is nothing wrong with purchasing things we need. It is so obvious, but some of us have learned to try to get by with the bare minimum – so much so that it leads to trust issues with oneself. The anxiety of wanting to control cannot take over for we may end up suffering or spending a lot more. The same goes for non-material things – through our intuition we can learn to recognize when we need true rest, mental stillness, or spiritual food.

  • Being open and transparent (let it flow)

I have been working towards remembering that by shutting others out, things usually get worse, and in the moments when sharing feels the hardest, it might be exactly what is needed. It can be helpful to watch films and read books that portray and put into words the challenging feelings that are clouding our minds. I believe it is our responsibility to actively work towards remembering that it is not weak to speak up and share. Being open is brave and vital.

  • Preparing for the new (you must open your wings)

Getting out of the comfort zone has been such a prominent subject in the wellness scene for years and years, but it never fails to impress me how quickly my brain will start to resist anything new. During moments of extreme dullness, however, it seems like our bodies start pushing us towards change. That is why it is essential to allow ourselves to rest and live mindfully. Letting ourselves be and then trying something new or just breaking the routine will make us bloom eventually. For instance, this morning I left my apartment without my keys and wallet, so I had to reschedule my vaccine appointment and replan the whole day. Luckily my friend had a spare key, but before picking it up and stressing about classes in the afternoon, I opted for cheering myself up. I went to see a film at 10 am, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (ten out of TEN!). After crying in the theater for a good two hours, a whole new person walked out.

With these thoughts, I wish you happy autumn!

Laura Korhonen

Helsinki '23

Laura is from Northern Finland and studies English at the University of Helsinki. Like many other Finns, she loves misty mornings, forests, and freshly baked cinnamon buns. She's passionate about wellness and working towards a more sustainable and safe world.
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