As we take a deep breath and prepare for our busiest week of the year, we asked some of the Stretching the City team to share their go-to tools for managing overwhelm and keeping their mental health in check.
Sally Lovett, Founder & Director, Stretching the City
Sleep is the golden thread that keeps my mental health in check and when deprived, I can fast feel things unravel. A hot bath with lavender oil, followed by an early night is my go-to ritual for when things feel too much. I also find a brisk walk and blast of fresh air will usually help put problems in perspective. Ultimately, I’ve learnt (and am still learning) to listen intuitively to what my mind and body need. That may be a sweaty HIIT class, a large slice of cake, or going offline for a few days.
Laila, Corporate Mindfulness Teacher & Wellbeing Coach
My biggest tip on looking after your mental health is to remember that wellbeing is unique to each of us – so find what works for you and do you! For me, awareness is the starting point – the key to feeling well every day is understanding myself and knowing what my stress and well-being triggers are. This changes every day so I start each day by creating space to sit and I do a short meditation to centre myself, understand where my mind and body is at and then go from there. Some days I need more sleep, more energy or just to be quiet!
When I feel stress or anxiety rising, my quickest way to catch myself is to get outside in the fresh air and go for a walk. Even a 5 min breather can make all the difference to my mindset and mood.
I also find talking to someone and offloading can really help. And if no one is around I use morning pages (journaling every morning – 3 pages of free thought) to be a huge game changer in relieving anxiety and also creating more space for creatively. And best of all my journal doesn’t talk back!
Marco, Office Massage Therapist
The things I do to keep my mind, body and soul in check are:
· 7 miles a week running in the park
· Tai chi once a week
· I never eat meet or dairy products
· I practice Yin yoga meridians exercises every morning
· I try my best to always keep my mind in a positive mindset.
Clarissa, Corporate Nutritionist & ‘Good Mood Food: Nutrition for Mental Health’ workshop leader.
I often find it difficult to turn off from my emails, phone communication and social media. Although technology has revolutionized the way we live, it can often mean that we are always expected to be reachable and switched on. To combat this, I schedule a non-negotiable ‘me-time’ for two hours per week. This means going completely digital-free and spending two hours away from those external stimulations, and I focus on doing something I love. Sometimes this is going for a walk, other times it is having a bath, cooking/baking or colouring in one of my mindful colouring books. I find this helps me re-set and gives me time to clear my thoughts and mind, so I am more focused and clear on the things I need to achieve in my week.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always achievable, and I occasionally have to forego this time for other commitments, but I always try my very best to get this in, and most importantly, if I don’t, I don’t beat myself up about it. Instead, I try to get an extra hour or two the following week!
Pippa, Yoga Teacher & leader of ‘Body Image: Self Compassion & You’ workshop.
Journaling is one of my go-to practices to support my mental health. Often I work with ‘stream-of-consciousness’ writing which is a practice where you essentially ‘download’ the thoughts that are occupying your mind by writing continuously for a set period of time. Alternatively I pick a specific statement to journal on, for example; ‘The things that are bringing me joy right now are…’, ‘Something that I’m finding difficult to let go is…’ However I approach it, I find that putting pen to paper is a powerful act that immediately puts space between me and my thoughts. It often soothes tension that might be associated with the challenges we face and if I’m journaling on something positive it’s a beautiful way to focus my attention on all that I’m grateful for, something that we know has been scientifically shown to positively improve our wellbeing.
Whatever you or your company has planned for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we hope it’s stimulating lots of conversation, encouraging people to share their experiences and helping silence the stigma for the 1 in 4 of us who will suffer from a mental health problem each year.