In May there’s the official mental health awareness week (9th-15th) and most people view May as a whole month to raise awareness. So do I. This year’s theme is ‘Let’s connect’ We’ve all had moments of feeling lonely at some point but if consistent it can influence our #mentalhealth negatively and we might then tend to isolate ourselves thereby making it worse. Let’s break that cycle and connect. Reach out to a friend, neighbour, family member or therapist. Together we’re stronger! You’re not alone!
If you feel lonely, my heart goes out to you. Let’s talk about it, reflect together and find solutions how to move beyond it. You are #notalone Know that behind the clouds the sun is still shining.
Yet also remember this month that if you have a friend or family member who you feel is pulling back and not in touch so much anymore, reach out to them. Tell them they’re important to you and offer a hug, positive vibes or just an ear to listen to how they’re feeling. Let’s reconnect with each other. Reach out to the people in your life. Everyone needs a hug every now and then. Reconnect! You’re not alone, let others know that they’re not alone. Together we’re stronger!
If you do feel like you could do with some support, please get in touch. I offer a free 15min phone consultation as well as online sessions if you’re not in the area (I’m based in Eastbourne). My emails are: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that several studies have found that a random act of kindness can help you feel better and less depressed? According to healthday.com “A growing body of research has found that ‘positive activity intervention’ can serve as effective low cost treatment for depression”. It’s the little things that count, like being friendly to a stranger, walking a neighbour’s dog, giving praise or a compliment, helping someone with their shopping or writing a thank you note to people who have helped you in the past. When we help someone else we shift our internal focus outwards which is beneficial. Being of service can give us a sense of meaning or achievement on a small scale, something that people with depression are often lacking.
We all have certain emotional needs and if these aren’t met, we start feeling out of balance which can eventually lead to mental health problems. So if you’re not happy or perhaps even suffering from depression, ask yourself what’s missing from your life? Are you part of a community? Do you feel in control of your life? Do you feel safe and secure in all areas of your life? Do you feel loved and appreciated the way you are by a person or pet? What do you do to have fun? Do you feel you give and receive enough attention?
Sometimes depression can lead us to only focus on ourselves, hiding or shutting out other people as we don’t think they can help us. But what if helping them can make us feel better too? By giving them our attention and doing something nice, we lift our own spirit. Awareness is the first step towards change, so take a moment to think about what’s missing from your life. Also consider random acts of kindness and watch how your feelings change when you do something nice for someone else. If everyone commited to a small favour to one other person every day, we’d all help create a happier community for us to live in. What goes around comes around.
Personally I like to do charity work. I regularly donate money and items to charities, I have volunteered at animal shelters and now I’m organising a sponsored walk to raise money for rescue dogs. In fact, if you live in East Sussex, why not come along for a lovely walk in nature on Sunday 22nd May. Bring your dog or a friend and if you have a few spare pounds to donate, that’d be absolutely awesome and it’s a win-win as you’ll feel better by doing something for someone else, like helping dogs in need, not to mention enjoying a lovely nature walk and meeting some lovely people and dogs.
Going back to my original point, doing something nice and heart-felt is profoundly beneficial for our own emotional balance and if done on a regular basis can help reduce depression. How about making a small list of genuine things you would be able and prepared to do, such as paying someone a compliment, smile at a stranger, help an elderly person lift something heavy, pray for someone, volunteer or donate something, bake a cake for someone, help a neighbour with their garden work, pick up litter in a nearby park, show gratitude and appreciation, etc.
“Slow steady progress is better than daily excuses” (Robin Sharma). So think of something you can do today. Perhaps you’d like to help me spread the word about my upcoming charity walk? The more people we reach, the better and if you’re not in the area but still would like to make a small donation, get in touch and I’ll tell you how.
How about a new approach to New Year’s resolutions? Let’s be honest, most of us don’t follow through anyway, right? After a few weeks the discipline wavers and we’re back to where we started. If you’re an exception, great! Congrats then keep going and see this suggestion as an add-on. If you’re not good at sticking to your NY’s resolutions, then let’s just not do them this year.
So here’s a different idea (which I started a few years ago): Why not start with an empty jar and collect happy moment memories, success stories or pictures of events and positive changes happening in 2021?
Recipe: Take one empty bottle or jar, have a few pieces of paper or post-it notes and a pen ready. Set an reminder on your phone or in your calendar to record at least two or three things every week or reflect each Sunday on what to record. No worries if it’s less than that, the idea is to keep counting and recording your blessings.
We could even record things like the end of lockdown, the joy of being allowed to see friends again, the pleasures of shopping or keep a record of how you’ve improved your home, your skills or hobbies, write down your favourite jokes or heart-warming moments when you felt moved or perhaps record an pleasant walk in nature with a picture, a beautiful sunset, a home-cooked meal that you enjoyed, a time when you laughed until your tummy hurt, a special gift you received, a zoom-party or joyful phone call with a friend. The list is endless.
Then at New Year’s Eve 2021, take out the bottle or jar and read all the notes on the happy moments of the year. If you do this with your family, have everyone pick their top three! Feel free to amend this recipe to suit your needs.
The point is to recognise and record happy moments throughout the year and then reflect on them at the end of the year. Do this and watch how your life will change over time. We all got so much more to be grateful for than we perhaps realise. Accept the challenge!