It is difficult at the best of times to make sure we keep our own mental health a priority in our lives. The daily stresses and strains of a fast-paced, modern life can often leave us putting everyone else’s interests first, before our own.
This last year or so has taken an incredible toll on many people’s mental health. Whether you have struggled with not being able to see friends and family, feeling anxious at seeing everyone in masks and not being able to see their smiles, worrying about your job, keeping your business going in all the uncertainty, worrying about how your children are being affected by lockdowns and worrying about vulnerable people’s wellbeing, it can seriously build up to become a real problem that seems totally overwhelming.
We have all struggled in some way or another this year and that is why we wanted to highlight mental health awareness week; organised by The Mental Health Foundation.
One of the most difficult things when you are struggling is thinking that somehow, how you are feeling isn’t normal and that you are ‘mad’ or strange for feeling the way you do, and it can be a very isolating feeling.
The only consolation from recent times is that we are all experiencing these feelings at the same time to some extent. Whoever you are, you must have felt some feelings of anxiety, sadness, fear or anger or a mixture of all.
One of the most valuable things to do is talk to someone about your feelings, the chances are, the person you are talking to will be able to understand and empathise with your situation as they will have been feeling something similar. It can often be the first step to sorting out your problems or concerns.
Another way to help feeling of anxiety and depression is to focus on something really positive that draws your mind away from the here and now, and those difficult feelings. It forces you to think about something positive that brings you joy.
For me personally, my focus is nature. Nature is the theme of this week’s mental awareness week and for good reason. During the lockdowns, millions of people have felt reconnected to nature in the same way that our ancestors would have done. Experiencing the changing seasons, noticing the subtle changes and gaining real benefit from being in the fresh air.
The Mental Health Foundation has been encouraging people to share their stories of how nature has helped them through the difficult times.
Personally, since the lockdown began, I began to notice so many more things. Taking the time to go for a walk every day, even on the same route, you start to notice and appreciate things that you may have just walked past before without noticing. I would start the walk feeling stressed and anxious about all of the things I had to deal with and by the end of the walk, my mind had been calmed and I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I started to notice tiny flowers and plants that I had never seen before and downloaded an app so that I could start to identify them. I now have a library of hundreds of little plants, flowers and herbs that I am starting to recognise again this year. It was exciting to see new flowers popping up that I hadn’t seen before!
It is difficult for some people to easily access the outdoors, but if you can walk to a park or a woodland, or get a bus or a short train ride, it really is worth it to be able to appreciate nature, taking time to slow down and forget about the pressures of life, even for just half an hour a day.
We hope that you will give The Mental Health Foundation’s website a look and that I will give you a few pieces of advice if you have been struggling. They have some fantastic advice and reading other people’s stories and experiencing will reassure you that you are not alone.
To mark this week, we are offering a discount online so you can treat yourself to some self-care pampering products for you, or maybe you want to treat a friend who has been struggling? Just use the code MENTALHEALTH21 at the checkout. (Valid until midnight Monday 17th May)