Be Kind This Mental Health Awareness Week

With this week being Mental Health Awareness week, I felt I needed to give my two pennies worth. Being someone who has suffered with anxiety and depression, I know all too well of the importance of this week. This year’s theme is kindness and that doesn’t just mean being kind to other people, but also being kind to yourself.

Firstly, I want to say having a mental illness do not define me, neither is it a part of my personality. However, I often have a habit of catastrophising my feelings and letting them run away unnoticed. This gives the impression that how you are feeling in that moment, will be how you feel forever.

At the time of writing this, I was having one of those ‘bad brain days’ – I woke up feeling low and I frantically searched for a reason why I was experiencing these emotions. The problem here is dwelling on these feelings and sensations – they can consume you and before you know it you’ve given up for the day and have gone back to bed. Obviously if going back to bed is the best option for you then do it, but I find once I’ve analysed and come to term with my emotions in that moment, I have a better chance of moving forward.

I always find it useful to read about other people’s experiences and learn about their coping mechanisms to help me develop my own. Being in lockdown has definitely helped me come to terms with the way my feelings effect my mood and my reaction towards others. With two months plus working indoors, I have developed a routine to coax myself through. So here’s where I share my advice, and I really hope other people can take something from this, even if it’s only small.

Coping Mechanisms
For the last month or so, I have really got stuck into mindfulness and meditation. I have dabbled in both in the past, and have written previous posts on the topic, but have never truly understood the importance they had on my mental health and well being, until we ended up stuck indoors – cheers corona!

I have re-read two mindfulness based books that I own over the last few weeks and it finally sunk in. You need to take time out for yourself and put your health first because by building on yourself, that is when you can use your knowledge to help other people. I highly recommend you read these two fantastic books if you want to make a positive change to yourself, right now:

Mindfulness and Meditations Books
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams & Danny Penman
A good option for those new to the world of mindfulness and meditation. With a guide to ease you into an eight week program, setting you up you with the tools for a mindful life. I have this as an audio book on my phone too, so I can practice meditation wherever I am.

A Monk’s Guide to Happiness by Gelong Thubten
I mentioned this in a previous blog post and I cannot rave about it enough. You need to really engage with this book, so give yourself a quiet time and space to take it in.

Useful Resources
Books aren’t for everyone, so if you want to get stuck into the meditation these apps are a good place to start:

Headspace (Free download with option subscription of £9.99 a month, or £44.99 a year)
I honestly swear by this app. Another great option if you’re a beginner to meditation, it starts you off with a basics course to help you to get to grips with the practices. You can select the length of time you wish to meditate, building this up over time and choose from a list of courses on a range of focuses from ‘Managing Anxiety’ to ‘Letting Go of Stress.’ I use this every single day without fail. I have the paid subscription, but it is worth every single penny.

Calm (One week free trial, then £28.99 a year)
I haven’t personally tried this myself but I’ve heard very positive reviews. As soon as you open the app you are greeted with calming sounds of the outdoors, which can be changed to waves, firewood or crickets if preferred. There are also Daily Calm exercises to help you unwind, so worth a look if this intrigues you.

And now for the serious stuff. If you are reading this and feel you need further and/or professional help, please look at the links below.

Mental Health Help
Mind
Samaritans
Rethink Mental Illness
CALM

Stay safe and until next time,
Neneh x

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