Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 8 to 15 May 2022. This year, the theme is loneliness.
This sparked a conversation here at Green Heart Collective about how we each take care of ourselves and our mental health. Our answers were all very different!
Have a read and see if any of these suggestions resonate with you. Do feel free to get in touch with your own suggestions.
Andy: For me, mental health starts with fresh air. I spend too much of the day inside, in front of a screen and so I need to get fresh air in my lungs and the breeze on my face. Of course, getting outside when the weather is grim can be a challenge – but my two dogs are always keen to remind me of my (and their) need for a walk. In fact, perhaps having a pet is pretty important for my well-being too. The unconditional love, the warm welcome after a long day and the willingness to have a cuddle whenever I need it, put my dogs in a very special place.
Declan: I think exercise is my go-to for looking after my mental health. It all started when I was doing my GCSE exams (all those years ago!) when I would head out for a run just to clear my head. I have since become a big fan of lifting heavy stuff at the gym because you can't really think about anything else at the bottom of a squat! But I have also just started a weekly yoga class which is great for taking things slowly and checking in with how the mind and body feel.
But active things aside, I like to read fiction to escape. I also enjoy writing a few lines of poetry here and there as a writing exercise to get it all out there on the page.
When I've got a problem or I feel a bit worse for wear then I do find talking to someone is helpful. Away at university I tried counselling which was really quite cathartic. But even just chatting to a friend, family member or your guinea pig can make things all seem a bit easier to bear.
Helen: Swimming in the sea on a Sunday morning with friends is my Wellbeing reset button for the week. I practise yoga most mornings before my dog walk in the woods followed by hearty porridge made for me by Andy - that's a great start to every day. Watching a film, particularly at the cinema, is a great escape for me, one of the only times I don't look at my phone for a few hours.
Having struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, I've found the key for me is to have a purpose and a reason to get up every day. Coming to work at Green Heart Collective every day keeps my mind occupied and my body active. Being involved in climate activism has also really helped me to turn my helpless despair into positive energy in the company of like-minded people.
Liz: Living alone can be lonely at times, this was exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Human contact is important for my well-being.
However, having two dogs and two cats means that there is always a living presence in the house and it never feels quiet. Dogs need to be walked and that gives opportunities for meeting others and engaging in conversation, albeit sometimes superficial. Friendly neighbours also provide further contact with other humans. I am able to go to the stables at any time during the day, knowing there will be friends there. Despite being retired I work two afternoons a week which helps my mental health by providing a sense of worth.
Other ways of managing my mental health and wellbeing are healthy eating, I tend to cook from scratch so avoiding many processed foods. I meditate and practise yoga and Pilates which helps to ground me. And I count my blessings which helps me to recognise that though there may be difficulties in my life I have much to be grateful for.
Sarah: I like to spend a day doing something I enjoy such as visiting an art gallery or museum or exploring a new town or city. I find that taking the time to get out and see new things helps if I'm feeling stuck in a rut or uninspired and I'll finish the day feeling more motivated and excited about life.
Let's keep having these conversations so we can make our wellbeing a priority in our lives. At Green Heart Collective, one of our values is Compassion and to finish with, here's a reminder of our aims...
- We will show compassion for all living things, including ourselves.
- We will consider rest and wellbeing as important as hard work and achievement.
- We will allow time and space for kindness and connection.