Mental Health Awareness
Updated: Aug 2
This week (10th-16th May 2021) is Mental Health Awareness Week.
Mental Health is a topic very close to my heart, I have struggled with stress and anxiety most of my adult life. I finally feel in a good place, through a daily practice of yoga and mindfulness I have found grounding and stillness, something six years ago I didn't realise I needed. I thought that if you were 'busy' that was a good thing, however burnout and anxiety led to me taking a step back and putting in some work to regain all round health.
Last month, during Wellbeing Wednesday I spoke to Kitty Clark Photography about the topic, we both opened up about our own experiences with poor mental health and shared things that have helped us (full video HERE):
👩🎨 Creative Project
Having a creative project can be a great outlet to keep you focused and put your energy into. Kitty mentioned that her relentless brain with sometimes jumbled thoughts, really benefits from channelling energy into a task to help find focus. Having a positive creative project can help elevate her above 'Mildred' a voice of negativity. When she is fully immersed in a project it feels like a form of meditation, a flow state. When you're in the present moment you're not in the future or in the past, where the anxiety and depression can creep in.
Tip: Find a creative project that you enjoy, ideas include photography, painting, embroidery, baking, gardening etc, and commit to one hour a week, see how you get on and try another until you find an activity where you feel in the flow, totally immersed and present.
My equivalent of Kitty's creative project. For me exercise has been a huge part of keeping me mentally healthy. Partly due to the amazing feeling you get after exercise thanks to those endorphins, but also because when I'm exercising I am truely present in that moment, and therefore have no time for worrying about the future or the past. When I'm practicing Yoga my mind and body connect, my breath aids the flow from one pose to another, I feel grounded - it's an amazing feeling. I also really enjoy getting outside for a walk, not only does the exercise make me feel better but just being outdoors with the fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for the mood.
Tip: Commit to one walk a day (even if its only a 10 minute round the block), moving your body and getting outside will give you such a boost and help your mood. Also, why not try out a yoga class, click here for 50% your first live online class.
🌳 Social Media Breaks
We've had so many amazing things that have come from Social Media (just one being Kitty & I meeting!), however we need to be careful what we're consuming and how long we spend on the platforms - they are designed to be addictive. Kitty mentioned how the comparison cycle can be detrimental to her mental health for example, comparing her chapter 1 within her photography business to someone else's chapter 30.
'Comparison is the thief of joy’ Theodore Roosevett.
We need to be happy to make progress and create success, and it can be really easy to fall into the comparison trap without realising it. Being more aware of how we are feeling whilst using social media is so important, if you feel stress levels rise it's time to log off and take a break, or if there is a certain account which triggers you then unfollow them. Kitty spoke about how she's been taking time off social media which has been difficult and not always consistent, but so worth it to be more present with her loved ones in the room.
Tip: If you feel overwhelmed by the number of notifications you're receiving and find them distracting, turn notifications off, so you're in control of when you look at your phone. Take the occasional weekend off social media if you can .
👩🏻🤝👩🏽 Surrounding Yourself with Positive People
Whether this be with real people, podcasts, books, tv, social media etc. Being more conscious of the people and activities that drain you, and those which make you feel energised and full of joy. Delete any social media accounts that don't make you feel good, spend more time with the people that give you a boost. You may not even have much consciousness around this, so start making a note, if you've spent some time watching a programme on tv or time with a couple of friends, just register how you feel afterwards. Making sure you have uplifting people around you when you are feeling low is so important, give a parent or a friend a call.
Tip: Find a podcast that inspires you, commit to listening to at least one episode a week. Here are some recommendations from Kitty and I:
Happy Place with Fearne Cotton
Female Entrepreneur Association with Carrie Green
Curating the Curious with Leanna Azzolini
Unlocking Us with Brene Brown
Kitty and I spoke about how gratitude can be extremely powerful, and that she has realised whilst getting older the good things in life are not there by chance. If she ever feels down or stressed she thinks of the things in her life she would be lost without for example her husband & daughter, trying to switch perspective, getting out of the mindset that she's not good enough. This said, she is able to do this now whilst in a better place with her mental health, and recognises that when she was at the lowest part of her journey it was impossibly hard to feel gratitude.
I have started using a gratitude journal and writing down three things each day that I have been grateful for, this is a really lovely way to end the day and makes me stop and pause, thinking about the positive moments that have happened, time for reflection.
Tip: Before you go to bed write down three things you've been grateful for that day.
I started taking a couple of minutes every morning and evening, to write down how I felt, tracking mood and emotions. The act of putting pen to paper is very therapeutic, the written word can be so powerful and really helps us to connect and acknowledge how we're feeling before going head first into the day.
Tip: Take one minute (yes, 60 seconds!) each morning and make a note of how you are feeling.
I hope you have found this blog helpful, and can start to implement some tips (if needed).
Please check out the full chat Kitty and I had HERE.
If you need further help Mental Health Awareness have provided a page with links to get support.
If you'd like to join me for 3 free Pre-Recorded Yoga classes click HERE.
If you'd like to find out more about Kitty Clark Photography, click HERE.