In recent years, amidst the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial uncertainties, and geopolitical unrest, many individuals are finding themselves caught in the throes of simply existing, rather than truly living. This bare existence—void of the vibrancy, passion, and joy that mark a life well-lived—can take a significant toll on our mental health. It’s a stifling sensation, akin to looking at life through a foggy window, where days melt into each other, leaving behind a monotonous trail of mere survival.
If you’ve found yourself feeling this way, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone, and help is available. This article seeks to provide practical ways to rekindle your inner spirit, and revive your inherent right to a fulfilling and joyful life.
The Cost of Existence on Mental Health
Life in the age of the pandemic and beyond has introduced new layers of stress, anxiety, and depression for many. This prolonged state of existence—going through the motions without truly engaging with life—can lead to feelings of numbness, apathy, and emotional exhaustion. Over time, this can escalate into chronic stress, negatively impacting our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
For instance, existing without joy can often manifest as burnout, a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. Burnout can lead to feelings of cynicism and detachment, further entrenching the cycle of mere existence.
Reconnecting with Life: Ways to Move Beyond Existing
Fortunately, there are ways to break free from this cycle, to dust off the pall of mere existence, and re-engage with the vibrancy of life. Here are some strategies that can help:
Mindfulness is about staying present, focusing on the here and now. It’s about acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. By doing so, you avoid getting trapped in the worries of the past or the future. Simple activities such as meditating, deep-breathing, or even just taking a mindful walk in nature can significantly improve your mental wellbeing.
Never underestimate the power of self-care. It could be as simple as setting aside an hour every day for relaxation and activities that bring you joy. This could include reading a book, engaging in a hobby, or just taking a warm, calming bath. Prioritising self-care can boost your mood and energy levels, helping you rekindle your zest for life.
Positive social interactions are a powerful antidote to feelings of existential dread. Reach out to your loved ones—family, friends, or support groups. Share your feelings, listen to others, and remind yourself that you’re not alone in this journey.
Seeking Professional Help
Sometimes, the burden of existence may feel too heavy to carry alone. In such instances, seeking professional help such as therapists or counsellors can provide invaluable support. Therapy can offer a safe space to explore your feelings and equip you with tools to better manage your mental health.
The Power of Small Steps
When trapped in the humdrum of existence, the idea of reclaiming your life might seem overwhelming. But remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. Tiny, consistent steps can lead to profound changes over time.
Perhaps start with just five minutes of mindfulness practice each day or a weekly phone call to a friend. Or maybe seeking professional help is the first step for you.
Whatever your starting point, remember, it’s not about making a big leap, but about making a start. And as you do, bit by bit, you’ll begin to shed the weight of mere existence and reawaken the joy and vibrancy of truly living.
Resilience in the Face of Existence
There’s no denying the challenges that the past few years have thrown our way. However, our innate resilience, combined with the right support and resources, can help us move beyond just existing. It’s crucial to remind ourselves that it’s okay not to be okay and that reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness but one of strength.
Whether you’re turning to mindfulness practices, self-care rituals, nurturing your relationships, or seeking professional help, every step you take towards prioritising your mental wellbeing is a step towards a life filled with more than mere existence.
Ultimately, the goal is not just to exist but to live—to embrace every moment, to cherish our relationships, to engage with our passions, and to find joy, however small, in each day. As poet Mary Oliver famously asked, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s an invitation for all of us to look beyond the fog of existence and reach towards the vibrant, fulfilling life that awaits.
Health Knowledge at Your Fingertips: The Bournemouth Observer’s Health & Wellness.