Work deadlines, family and social commitments, the constant influx of emails and social media posts, incessant negative news and, of course, the looming presence of Covid-19 in everything we say and do this year.
Let’s stop. Take a deep breath in . . . 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, slowly exhale out and then try these tips to nourish your mind. You’ll be surprised how effective these quick exercises can be if you allow yourself a couple of minutes to soothe your mind without any distractions.
Write down a negative thought that keeps playing on your mind. Now rip or scrunch the paper up and throw it away. Studies have found that this simple technique helps you to mentally discard the negative thought.
Close your eyes and think of a happy time in your life for a few seconds. The memory will give your mind a boost and optimise your mental outlook for the day.
Write down a positive thought about yourself. It may be a memory, a personality trait you value, a friend you trust, anything really. Just make sure it is something that makes you smile inside and gives you a sense of calm. Now tuck this paper into your pocket. This effectively protects that thought and reinforces it in your mind.
Sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back and head facing forward. This should have an immediate positive impact on your self-confidence. The alternative stance of curling towards your stomach is a classic defence posture; you are subconsciously telling your mind that you are in an unsafe environment. This has a knock on effect on your thoughts and feelings. Instead, protect your posture as much as you can and notice any difference it makes to your outlook.
Look out of the window and search for a bird flying in the sky. Notice the beauty, grace and joy with which it flies. Alternatively, look for a tree and start counting its branches. Notice the multiple autumnal tones and intricate details. Thousands of studies have shown nature’s positive impact on our mental health. By doing this exercise you are bringing a level of attention and mindfulness that may have eluded you previously when glancing outside.
We are all living through a unique event in the history of the world and the toll it is taking on our mental health is undeniable. The busier and more overwhelmed you feel, the more important it is to look after your mental health and prioritise your wellbeing. Take as much time as you can to nurture your mind, even two minutes a day can make a profound difference.
Having some extra tools up your sleeve to methodically ‘turn things around’ can help – especially when your heart feels like it’s sunk into your feet, your stomach is churning like a mis-guided attempt at making yoghurt in mixing bowl and your ability to face the day has disappeared quicker than a ‘Boris promise’.
So here are a few bullets to add to your armoury of tools for those ‘on the floor but still breathing’ days that seem to be coming increasingly thick and fast:
“Energy Breeds Energy”
This is my favourite quote from my dear friend and Geordie wise-arse / Yogi-extraordinaire Caroline Lofthouse. Make just one change: apply a different energy to the things you always do. Walk lightly. Eat toast sternly. Yawn aggressively… you get the idea.
Go on, have a play. Get out (outside / out of town / out in the open / out of your usual altitude / out of the country).
A change in the way that you see things is more likely to happen within a place that has different things to see. Even being upside down can make a difference.
Try on Somebody Else’s Shoes Dust off your childhood fantasy issues…if you’re in lockdown, there is nothing to be lost by allowing yourself to dress like (and become) the inner superhero that you always wanted to be. Just for a day. Unleash your inner Lenny Kravitz-Teresa May love-child creation!
(Wait, come back! I was just giving an example…was that a bit much?)
Talk to your friends… Or even better, challenge your friends with something ridiculous but harmless. Maybe challenge them to be YOUR inner superhero and get them to challenge you with being THEIR inner superhero? Maybe a Napoleon Dynamite dance-off? Maybe see who can learn to play a Bruno Mars tune on a Ukelele the quickest?
The ‘Ice-Bucket challenge’ or the ‘Bottle-top challenge’ had to start SOMEWHERE, right?
Set yourself a challenging, but surprising achievable challenge … and then achieve it. This has to be something that you can do, within the day/hour/minute, that requires you to push yourself but not break yourself (physically or mentally). Example: throw on a proper TUNE and challenge yourself to dance ALL OUT until the very end of the track, without stopping. Goal setting and exercise, all in one.
Give yourself credit Remember to pat yourself on the back and allow yourself to feel proud of yourself when you get the ‘win’. Learn a new word and try to slip it into conversation as many times as you can in a day
The more ridiculous the word, the better. German words are brilliant as many of them have no English equivalent but express something that we all feel from time to time. No matter what you choose to do, just remember that it’s all about breaking old patterns.
One change to a pattern of default behaviour can make a huge difference. It’s part of the reason that playing music that has a feel and tempo that doesn’t follow your default pace and rhythm can be such a powerful mood changer.
Make one change, today. Make another tomorrow, make them count.
Lockdowns force us to remain within controlled environments. There’s nothing better than a controlled environment for experimenting with something new … Just saying.
[Aaand…because I like music…aaand this article is for Create4MentalHealth, here are two music vids to rock your world and fire you up: John Mayer talking guitar (but actually talking ‘life’)
and a severely underrated guitar hero Mike Dawes playing ‘Jump’ as a tribute to the late, great Eddie Van Halen.]
Self care sounds like a given, but we all seem to be too busy to actually do it. so we are encouraging everyone to take a few hours out of their busy lives to look after yourself.
here are a few things we can all do that are either free … or at least really cheap. Try a herbal tea and a mud mask. Phone off, music on curl up on your sofa and take some time for yourself. If you have any tips for us … we would love to hear from you.
For this years world mental health day, we decided to give away a self care first aid kit. Full of goodies to encourage self care. To enter have a look at our socials @create4mh
We must thank everyone who helped us out with this, Clarins, Superdrug and of course Banquet Records, who have been supporting us since we started. Turn your phone off, make yourself a herbal tea and press play on your favourite album. If you have any tips for self care please let us lmow, we would love to feature some of them on our stories page
Something I am sure we all do is avoiding people and eye contact. Hunched shoulders, headphones in, music on loud. Someone told me a few months ago about looking at chimneys, didn’t really pay much attention at the time. But recently I’ve been trying to be a bit more positive, don’t know why it came to me but it did, so thought I would give it a go. Warm sunny day helped as I wandered into town.
No chance of wearing a hoody that day. So I looked at shop names while I was walking, looking just above everyone walking past and still avoiding eye contact of course. Looking buildings rather than the floor.
It was strange at first but it did give me more confidence. It does sounds weird I know but it actually worked. It makes you push your shoulders back and my chest out, breathing more deeply and feeling a bit better about myself. I have to remind myself to do it cos its not something I would do naturally at all. But its something I certainly think can work for everyone.
When things are quite bad I tend to not want to be around anyone. The key thing that helps me is getting outdoors and out of my usual surroundings, whether it be a drive to somewhere like box hill or walking around a local park. It gives my mind a second to breathe; particularly when going to big open spaces- being by rivers/ the sea helps the most.
Another thing that personally help me when things aren’t too great is painting- you don’t have to be the next Van Gough or have anything in particular to paint- just sitting and messing around with paint on a canvas or paper is somewhat cathartic and can be a good way to take my mind off of things and channel the negative energy I feel into something else.
I’ve recently made more regular visits to the gym which also help greatly; i find myself focusing on what I’m doing as opposed to thoughts in my head which helps. On the days that I feel will descend into bad mental health days I make sure I speak to friends/ arrange to see them as I know this will help to prevent my mental state declining.
From my own experience I’ve found that for me being active, as challenging as it may be sometimes, is without a doubt the best way for me to clear my head when it’s cloudy. I’ve tried so many hobbies to help me with this, some I did okay with and others I failed at but I kept trying more and more things until eventually drumming landed its way into my life. I’m not saying drumming or music is the key, everyone has his or her own interests and activities they enjoy but for me this really was a game changer in my life.
When I have a hard day mentally or physically, an hour of drumming is like therapy for my mind and body. Yes it aches and I have blisters but I really do enjoy it, as I feel accomplished in myself. I’m not doing it to impress anyone or to make money, it’s there to just help me find myself and I think everyone needs to have an outlet like that in his or her life. It’s very important to express yourself freely and art is such a beautiful way to do that, creatively is something everyone has in them, it’s an expression of yourself make sure you find a way to let it out.
I honestly cannot express how grateful I am to have music to help me vent my negativity away; it’s saved me in the darkest points of my life. Art is everywhere; there is no limit to what is seen as creative. Express yourself, be active and create your own art for yourself.
We made a short 40 second film, in the time it takes to watch it, someone, somewhere will have taken their own life
Around 800,000 people each year take their own life, that’s one person every 40 seconds, or the length of this short film, If you are struggling or know someone who is please reach out. There are many organisations that can help. Get in touch and let’s support each other.
We are currently putting the final touches to a short film for suicide prevention day. Someone, somewhere will take their own life every 40 seconds. Thats the same time as it takes too boil a kettle. If you know someone who is struggling, please reach out.