Saturday, 28 October 2017

Let's Make Plans!

Earlier this week, I went for a drink with one of my dearest friends and we sat in a bar, making a list of the things we want to do together in 2018.  It was - and this is not hyperbole - one of the loveliest moments I've had this year.  

Some people hate making plans.  There are endless memes to be found in all corners of the internet, equating plans to "obligations" which people then feel a sudden need to wriggle out of.  I have rarely been someone who feels constricted by having a plan to stick to.  I'm ridiculously organised.  For me, a plan is bloody marvellous.  

But it was more than just my love of organisation that made me so happy, that afternoon in the pub.  It was the knowledge that I was sitting with someone who wants to make plans to hang out with me many times over.  It was the excitement of thinking about the fun things we both wanted to do in the coming weeks and months.  It was a way of ensuring that I have the kick up the bum I need to keep on getting out there and doing things.

We all have times in our lives when we just don't feel like doing much.  When depression, stress or anxiety causes us to dread venturing any further from our duvets than is absolutely necessary.  When the black dog has you firmly in its grip, the last thing you might be inclined to do is go out and take part in any kind of social activity.  Those are the times when pre-arranged plans feel like millstones around your neck.  The thought of having to force a smile onto your face and somehow muster up the energy to do more than binge-watch a TV show can be difficult to contemplate.

But, on the other hand, looking forward to something can be a way of lifting yourself out of the doldrums.  Having a reason to get up and out of the house can have a hugely positive impact on your mental wellbeing.  Just taking your mind off whatever's getting you down can be incredibly helpful.  After all, if we constantly dwell on the same thing for long enough, we start making it bigger than it needs to be and before long, it starts to harm us.  Taking some time out can even clear your mind just enough for you to be able to find a practical solution to the problem when you come back to it, later.

For me, sitting with my friend and making plans for the last few weeks of 2017 and well into 2018 made me realise how much I have to look forward to.  A day out with another couple of friends yesterday, in which we also made some pretty major plans for next year, had the same effect.

When I think back to the start of this year, when I was depressed, struggling to make plans for something I'd been really excited about, only to have it cancelled, it's hard to imagine a more different place from where I am, now.  I may not end up doing everything I talked about with friends, next year.  But even if I do half of it, I know that I have a whole lot to be excited about.

For me, making plans has been that last little step I needed to take, in order to get my mental health back on track.  Something as simple as "hey, do you fancy doing  *insert thing here* next weekend?" was, as it turned out, all I needed to make me realise that my world is full of amazing people, good friends and positive experiences.  And making plans for more of that can only be a good thing.

So, here's to making plans and having things to look forward to.  Life is short, after all.  Let's go out there and live it.

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