Supporting someone struggling with their mental health

Up until now, when I’ve discussed mental health on Blue Jay, I’ve mainly stuck to self-management and self-care type posts. So I thought it was about time I looked at it from another angle: how to support someone struggling with their mental health.

Almost all of us will encounter this challenge at some point in our lives. It may be a parent, sibling, friend, partner or even a work colleague. They may be going through a blip, or they may be living with a long-term condition.

Whatever the situation, it can be hard to know what to do, as someone significant in their lives.

First, let’s start with what not to do.

Do not ignore them. Do not assume because you aren’t a counsellor or don’t know much about mental health that you should keep your distance. Do not avoid topics of conversation because you ‘don’t know what to say’.

As much as people are confident talking about mental health online or in the media, it’s the way we have these conversations in our everyday life that makes the difference. Don’t shy away from it. The more we talk about it, the more ‘normal’ it becomes – that’s how you eradicate stigma.

OK, so now you know what not to do, here’s some thoughts on what you can do to show your support.

How to support someone struggling with their mental health

  • Educate yourself. A lot of people shy away from talking about something because they don’t feel they know enough about it. If someone you love is struggling with something in particular, look it up and learn more about how it may be making them feel.
  • Start the conversation. Often it will be up to you to take this first step. And this is honestly easier than it seems. Try a simple, ‘how are things, really?’ or ‘what’s been going on in your world lately?’ or even ‘are you OK?’.
  • Be there. Be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, a kind hand for them to hold. Sometimes a smile and a hug can make all the difference. Assure them that you are always there to listen – even if you don’t feel capable of actually helping them, being someone they can talk to is precious.

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  • Encourage, but don’t force. If you feel they would benefit from extra support, for example from a counsellor or a doctor, try to encourage them to seek help. Do some research and let them know what could help and the benefits of getting extra support, but avoid dictating to them or forcing them to do anything they’re not ready to do.
  • Ask for help yourself. It can be easy to try and carry the weight of other people’s problems, but remember to look after yourself too and don’t be afraid to speak to a doctor yourself if you’re struggling to know what to do next. They will be able to advise you and may even recommend you chat to a counsellor too.

I remember when I was going through my eating problems, my sister wrote me a letter. She didn’t know I had anorexia then, she just knew I was unhappy and struggling socially at school. In the letter she spoke from experience, telling me about life after school and that no matter how bad things seemed, nothing is permanent.

This really stuck with me and although I ended up needing professional intervention to help me recover, that letter was incredibly important to me. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Letting the person know that it’s OK to not be OK and that nothing lasts forever.

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What feminism means to me

Feminism. Feminist. What do you think of when you hear those words? Everyone has their own interpretation, so I wanted to chat about what it means to me.

Before we get into that though, I want to touch on the fact that feminism has gained a lot of attention recently in the media and has even become ‘trendy’.

And thank god for that.

What kicked this off then? For me at least, my full attention was drawn to feminism when Emma Watson killed it with her ‘HeforShe’ campaign speech at the UN.

While I have always considered myself a feminist, I was a quiet feminist.

Tutting, sighing or grumbling internally, I never really talked about my feelings on sexism and the like. And while I kinda hate that it took a celebrity speaking out to encourage me to find my own voice on the matter – that’s what happened. (I mean to be fair it was Emma Watson, perhaps the least ‘celebrity-y’ celebrity in Hollywood).

Since then I feel the world has caught up with what feminism really is and is no longer taking any bullshit. The fact that Trump got elected and that he and his male minions sat around making decisions for women was the last straw for many of us.

So, in the last couple of years, I’ve gotten louder. I’m going to use this idy-bidy little space of internet to talk about feminism. I’m sharing videos, articles and petitions on social media. I’m having a voice.

What feminism means to me

Feminism means… having equal rights. Not paying someone less because they are a woman. Not treating someone differently because they are a woman.

Feminism means… treating women with respect. There is nothing I hate more than ‘mansplaining’ or being talked down to because I’m female.

Feminism means… supporting other women. Lifting others up raises us all to a different level.

Feminism means… saying ‘fuck you’ to unattainable beauty ideals. I appreciate this is an issue that affects men too, so it’s something that we all need to work on as a society.

Feminism means… presenting yourself in a way that makes you happy. Some people still carry this outdated assumption that all feminists look a certain way and can’t be into fashion – not true dude.

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I could go on, but I’ll stop now.

Every feminist, like every person, is different. It means different things to different people but we’re all aiming for the same target. Equality.

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The importance of creativity

Being able to create things is a key part of being human. Using our imaginations to make something, in whatever form, is pretty unique. I think it’s pretty important too.

There are lots of people out there who will probably be reading this thinking, ‘but I’m not creative’. Well to you, I say – yes you are. You don’t have to be an artist, musician or writer to be creative. Creativity for you may mean cooking a delicious meal. It could be making collages or even flower arranging.

In terms of importance to our happiness, having space to be creative is pretty high up there.

For those of us who do consider ourselves ‘creative’ or ‘artistic’ it’s damn well essential to our happiness.

Obviously I get a great deal of joy from writing, both at work and here on Blue Jay, but recently I’ve been reigniting my passion for photography.

I’ve always loved photography, I took it at college and did a course in Costa Rica to learn how to take better pictures. Despite this, I have always been hesitant to take out my big camera – it’s heavy and generally quite inconvenient for capturing the beautiful everyday.

Recently though, I’ve become kinda fascinated by iphoneography, especially since I upgraded to the 7+ which has a kick-ass camera. It is obviously far more convenient to capture moments on-the-go and the results can be quite stunning.

I’m also really getting into Instagram as a way of showcasing my pictures. I’m listening to the Hashtag Authentic podcast, downloading e-books, planning my grid and having fun with the stories feature. For me, it’s been a perfect way to explore my creativity.

How to explore your creativity

  • Think about what you enjoyed doing when you were younger. Did you love drawing but haven’t picked up a pencil in years? Did you dance around the kitchen when everyone else was out? Start here.
  • Never stop learning. Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the world of creativity or your an old hand, always be on the lookout for learning experiences. Are there courses for what you want to do? Is there a slightly different angle you could look at to improve your current work?
  • Don’t be afraid to share your work. Whatever format it takes, be proud of your creative endeavors and show them off. At first I felt a bit self-conscious posting more posed/arty images on my instagram, but I quickly got over it – it’s something I’m exploring and having fun with and so far the reaction has been positive.
  • Talk to others in the community. Even if you’re just doing something creative for yourself, it can be nice to connect with other like-minded souls. Social media is a great way to find and talk to others who share your passion.

Basically, the key take-away here is to do what makes your soul sing. If you feel excited, invigorated and downright awesome when you’re doing something, keep doing it.

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When to say ‘no’ to the gym

There’s something I’ve decided to let go of, something I want you to say goodbye to as well… wanna know what it is?

Gym guilt.

That feeling when you haven’t made it to the gym for whatever reason and you decide that this makes you a failure. That you’re a bad person because you skipped the gym in favour of an extra hour in bed.

It’s this feeling I want us to obliterate because it is simply not true. You are not a failure for missing one workout. You are not a bad person for listening to your body and getting more sleep.

To clarify, I am not saying ‘screw the gym, do what you want’ (well, not exactly). I enjoy the gym, I enjoy yoga – exercise makes me feel better mentally and physically as it does most people.

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I started falling in this trap recently. I generally set goals for the week ahead, including what exercise I plan to do on what days. I find this helpful and motivating… but I started putting too much pressure on myself. I was feeling fat and guilty every time I missed a session.

Yes, we should be exercising for our health BUT we should not be putting so much pressure on ourselves that we feel guilty for not exercising.

And the thing is, I wasn’t missing sessions because I was being lazy, I was feeling tired and run down. I was also keeping up with my yoga, so was getting movement in, but I still felt guilty.

There was one morning when I wanted to cry because I didn’t want to go to the gym but I didn’t want to not go to the gym either… it was at this point when I decided no, I shouldn’t feel like this.

I took the day off exercise that day and meditated instead. I then started meditating instead of exercising for a week or so. I felt so much better for it. My body and mind were crying out for stillness.

I’m now getting back to the gym (and meditating most mornings) but I refuse to feel guilty if I don’t feel up to it sometimes. I don’t put pressure on myself and I’m starting to lose the guilt. I think our bodies tell us when we need to slow down, we just need to get better at listening to it.

When to say ‘no’ to the gym

  • When you’ve had a rubbish night’s sleep.
  • When you’ve got a banging headache.
  • When you feel panicky at the thought of the gym the next day.
  • When you want to cry because you’re so tired.
  • When it’s day one of your period and you hate the world.
  • When you just. can’t.

Not going to the gym doesn’t have to mean you waste that time, there’s plenty of things you can do apart from the gym that will benefit your health, such as:

  • sleep
  • meditate
  • yoga
  • gentle walk
  • read a book
  • listen to an inspiring podcast
  • text a loved one

The health and wellness industry is great and I love it, but the pressure we put on ourselves to do everything perfect all the time is infuriating.

I’m done with it, my mental health and my happiness comes first and that means sometimes, saying  ‘fuck you’ ‘no’ to the gym.

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Marbles magazine Q + A

In my last post I talked about choosing what you consume and mentioned a couple of magazines that inspire and lift me up (Oh Comely and happiful). Following on from this, today I’m pleased to share an interview with an up and coming magazine which I will certainly be adding to this list – Marbles.

I spoke to creator, Kirstyn Smith.

Hi Kirstyn! First of all can you tell me a bit about yourself and Marbles magazine?

Marbles is a magazine focusing on mental health, specifically smashing the stigma that surrounds talking about mental health. To do this, we’ve asked people to tell us their stories in their own words, with no pussyfooting, and without shame.

As for me, I’m Kirstyn Smith, a writer and journalist from Edinburgh. I live with Borderline Personality Disorder, and am dedicated to mental health advocacy and eating chips.

What is the magazine’s mission, and how do you think you’ll achieve it?

While there has been so much work done to reduce the stigma of talking about mental health, it’s still such a taboo thing to bring up, and this shouldn’t be the case. Marbles’ aim is to get people talking about it in a way that isn’t soft-footed or awkward. Talking about something is the first step towards normalising it, and that’s what we want to do.

The brunt of it is that people die in silence every day, and it’s so important to feel like you can talk about your mental health without judgement. Marbles is a place where people can do that, and readers can see that they’re not alone.

Where did the idea stem from?

Without wanting to sound like I’m selling you a sob story, things were set into motion when my Dad died at the end of 2014. He had been a teacher for 35 years at the same school, and when the school put a post on their Facebook page saying how sorry they were that he had died, it got hundreds of comments and shares.

I read through every one of them and nobody had a bad word to say about him. The outpouring of affection for him really shifted things in my mind. I was unhappy with my job at the time, because I didn’t think I was good at it and it was making me fairly miserable. I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing it was to have made a difference in people’s lives.

So, I changed positions at my job and was working part-time as a freelance writer when I went to Magfest in September last year. The speakers there (specifically Hannah Taylor of She is Fierce, Sam Bradley of Counterpoint, and Heather McDaid of 404 Ink) were so inspiring that I decided to give the idea of a mental health magazine a try.

What do you think of the current magazine scene – is it doing enough to raise awareness and understanding about mental health?

There are so many great magazines focused on mental health, but quite a lot of them focus on fiction and poetry. These are great – there’s room for everything, but I wanted to get right to the point: real people talking about their real lives without shame.

In the first issue, we’ve got an interview with Ruby Tandoh, who was a runner up in the Great British Bakeoff, who has started a mental health zine called Do What You Want, so there’s definitely a desire for it out there.

Over the past few years, more and more people in the public eye have been speaking out about their experiences, so it’s good to know that this is translating into media that’s aimed at people in similar situations.

(mock-up of Marbles issue one front cover)

Can you give us an idea of what to expect from issue one? 

I’m really excited for the first issue – maintaining the calibre of writers and interviewees for subsequent issues is going to be really hard.

We’ve got some great writers involved, including Emily Reynolds, whose first book on mental health was published in February; Laura Waddell, who works for HarperCollins and is such an amazing writer; founder of 404 Ink and Nasty Women editor, Heather McDaid; Arusa Qureshi, who’s an award-winning writer and journalist; Leo Condie, lead singer of WHITE, and so many more. I feel bad not listing everyone, but I could write for days about how blown away I am by the writers.

As far as interview subjects are concerned, we’ve spoken to musician RM Hubbert, rapper Archie Green, author Debi Gliori, ex-porn star and campaigner Michelle Maren, Ruby Tandoh as mentioned above, and MC Shogun.

Where can people find out more (and get themselves a copy!) of marbles magazine?

Our Kickstarter is now finished, but you can still find it here to see a little more about what managed to get the mag funded.

Our website is here where there’s a little more about the Issue One contributors and a shop where you can pre-order the mag (if you want!).

What should people do if they want to contribute to marbles? 

We’re not currently looking for contributors, but we will be for future issues, so the best thing to do is to just look for shoutouts both on our website and on social media (@marblesmag).

A huge thanks to Kirstyn for taking the time to answer my questions! I’m so pleased more and more magazines are popping up in the mental health space – there is still much to do to eradicate stigma, so every time a new publication comes out to support the cause, the closer we all get. 

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Choose what you consume

This is a bit of a follow-up to my ‘inspiring people to follow on social media‘ post. There I talked about curating your social feeds to bring light and positivity to your daily scroll. Today I want to talk about other forms of media.

It can feel, sometimes, like we’re being spoon-fed content. There is so much ‘noise’ surrounding it that it can be hard to ignore. Each newspaper, magazine, TV show, website is screaming for our attention, saying “I’m really important!!”.

I think what’s important, is for us to realise that we have a choice.

Unpicking value from the media can be tough, but ultimately incredibly beneficial to our wellbeing.

I’ve realised recently that I actually kinda hate mainstream media. Click bait articles that promise the world and deliver diddly squat seriously piss me off. I do try to stay informed of current events, but I have my chosen sources (the Guardian is a fave).

I like content that speaks to me. I want to be able to relate to it, to get something out of it – whether that’s information, a smile or a warm glow of inner peace. It can happen.

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Trying to teach Sanka about feminism. He gives precisely zero fucks.

Below I’ve got a couple of tips for actively choosing what you consume from the big wide world of the media. I know most of us are pretty adept at choosing what we read/watch etc. but hey, I love a tip list.

Choosing what you consume – some tips

  • TV. I’m a big TV fan, give me a decent series and an evening with no interruptions and I am happy. My tip here is not to be close minded. I can be quite (OK, very) quick to judge a TV show before I watch it, but I’m trying to get better at giving something a go before I dismiss it (currently loving: This is Us, Love, Girls, Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy – oh and TED talks!).
  •  Books. The best tip when it comes to reading is… don’t force it. When you’re reading something that ignites your soul, it’s easy and enjoyable. If you’re forcing yourself to read something because you want to come across a certain way or you think you ‘should’ read it, you’re doing it wrong. Reading more was one of my goals for 2017 and I’ve been loving it. So far I’ve read ‘The Life Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck‘, I’ve just finished ‘Bloom‘ and I’m dipping in and out of ‘Milk & Honey‘ for my poetry fix.
  • Magazines. There are so many fantastic magazines out there that don’t necessarily live on the shelf of your local newsagents. Cast your net wider. Find something that speaks to you, something that you can truly connect to. My absolute fave is Oh Comely.

Whilst we’re on the subject of magazines, I want to quickly talk about a magazine the company I work for has just launched – happiful. Available both online and in print, the magazine is all about helping people find happiness, something I am obviously very much on board with.

From inspirational real life stories to ‘happiful hacks’ there’s something in there for everyone. I’m a contributing writer and for the launch issue, I wrote an article with some tips to help you find a counsellor that’s right for you. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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  • Films. Arghhhh I LOVE films. I think they have such power to change your mood while offering a little escapism. My tip here is to not listen too much to other people’s opinions. Just because someone else hated it, doesn’t mean you won’t love it. Also, go to the cinema by yourself sometimes. It’s a nice little solo date.
  • Vlogs/blogs. There are so many talented bloggers and vloggers, it’s basically impossible to keep up with all of them. I only follow a few vloggers, but they are the ones who speak to me, as a 31 year old woman interested in wellness and lifestyle. They are: Lily Pebbles, The Anna Edit, The Michalaks, What Olivia Did and Esteé Lalonde. Other than that, I tend to read blogs that catch my attention on Twitter and Instagram, mostly about mental health and wellness.
  • Podcasts. You can gain SO MUCH from podcasts. Whether it’s fiction, informative or just plain funny – I friggin’ love them. My tip is to read my super helpful post on 8 inspiring podcasts 😉

Books, TV, vlogs – all that jazz can either bring us up or tear us down. Be conscious. Know what you need and what will bring you joy… and drown out all the other shit.

The whole reason I started Blue Jay of Happiness was to try and be a space that brings people up. A space that adds value.

You’ll never find me writing about a new designer bag or see pictures of me looking glamorous while eating brunch. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, I know what I want from content these days… and I want more.

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How I deal with feeling fat

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I’ve started posting lil videos of me doing yoga. Before I posted my first video, I watched it and thought:

I. Look. Huge.

Now, as someone who has lived through an eating disorder, having a poor body image is something I’m familiar with.  And the truth is, my relationship with my body goes through ebbs and flows. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I struggle to look at it.

I would love to say I love the rolls on my stomach. That I love my cellulite and the ways my arms wobble. But I can’t. Not yet anyway.

What’s contributed to this feeling is the fact that I’ve been struggling to get to the gym recently. As much as I don’t go to the gym to lose weight, exercise boosts my endorphins and my mood, and my self-image.

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But rather than fixing this with a few work outs, I want to fix the way I’m thinking. Because this is where the problem is – it isn’t my body, it’s my mind.

Yes, exercise, eating well and being physically healthy is an important piece of this, but if we can’t accept and love our bodies, no amount of sweating will help.

And the thing is, I know I’m not alone in this. I know it isn’t just people who have had eating disorders that feel like this. Sadly it’s become something almost every woman deals with at some point in their lives (thank you very much unrealistic beauty expectations).

So, I’ve put together a few things that help me and may help you.

How to deal with feeling fat

Move your body

Remind yourself what your body is for. It is a vehicle, getting you through life one glorious day at a time. Go dancing, do some yoga, take a walk – whatever. Be grateful for it and everything it’s enabled you to do.

Throw away any clothes that don’t fit

This was a big step for me. I had a pair of beautiful floral trousers that I always got complimented on when I wore them. BUT, they were so tight I couldn’t do up the top button and they cut into my stomach. Not only was this uncomfortable, but it made me feel like absolute shite. I decided to take the plunge, accept my new size and throw them away.

Wear clothes that make you feel awesome

Now you’ve removed the clothes that make you feel crap, it’s time to wear the outfits that make you feel bad-ass. I’ve got a jumpsuit that is flattering and makes me feel like the coolest woman ever (I think it’s the pockets).

Argue with yourself

Every time my inner voice tells me I look huge or that I need to lose weight, I talk back. I say NO. I tell myself that life is too short to worry about the way I look. I tell myself that the people in my life who love me don’t give a flying fuck about the way my arms wobble. It takes a little time, but it works.

Seek out inspiring, body positive people

There’s a whole body positivity movement happening out there (just search the #bodiposi hashtag on Instagram) and it’s awesome. These people are shining examples of how it feels to let go of the negativity you are throwing at your body.

Once you let go of hating your body, obsessing about what you eat and how you look you will feel free, I promise you.

I’m still working on it myself, but I’m feeling stronger and happier every day and I will keep posting videos of me doing yoga because I know no one gives a damn about the way I look.

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Overcoming complacency at work

I briefly touched on this subject in my post about stretching your comfort zone, but I wanted to delve a little deeper into the topic of complacency at work.

It can be so easy to become complacent in the workplace. Once you’ve been somewhere a while, you’ve got your job down and you know your role like the back of your hand it’s hard not to get complacent.

You start to coast a little. You do your job well, but probably don’t push yourself to go above and beyond.

In this space you can get disheartened, a little jaded, and worst of all – bored.

I say all of this from experience. To be honest the last few months of 2016 I was coasting. I felt overwhelmed with changes happening in the company and instead of feeling challenged and excited – I felt lost and reverted to doing the bare minimum.

Thankfully, this has totally changed and my attitude has done a full 180.

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I re-discovered my why. I got excited again. I changed my mentality, and most importantly – I got creative.

If you feel like you’re drifting in a similar boat, let me share what helped me go from complacent to creative.

How to overcome complacency at work

  • Take a break. I took two weeks off over Christmas and I desperately needed that time away from my desk to reassess what I wanted to get out of work and how I could change my attitude. If you can’t take two weeks, take a day. Anything is better than nothing.
  • What do you want to get out of your job? Every job is an opportunity to learn, even if you’re not in the job you want to end up in. Think about what you can get out of your current role and how you can go about it.
  • Never stop learning. Once I realised the changes that were happening at my company were actually an opportunity to learn and not a source of stress, my attitude totally shifted. Speak to management about any skills you want to develop and do some research, find online courses and allocate time to learn.
  • Seek out inspiration. Listen to podcasts, read books, explore other people’s content (written or visual). It doesn’t have to be about your industry at all, just find some people who inspire you and soak it all in.
  • Get out of the office. This advice came from my manager who suggested I took my team out of the office for a ‘coffee and creative’ session now and again. Being a team of writers we often feel chained to our keyboards, so leaving them behind for a couple of hours to scribble in notepads feels liberating.
  • Get your creative juices flowing. My job is creative at its core, but it can be easy to forget that when you get weighed down with emails and other manager admin. I try to allocate at least some time every day to do something creative, whether that’s writing, making an image for social media or thinking of a video idea for a campaign.
  • Start a passion project (outside of work). I honestly think my launching Blue Jay of Happiness in January had a positive effect on my work-life. As well as forcing me to get creative out of working hours, I’m learning some seriously transferable skills. For example I’m experimenting with video and Instagram for the blog and am taking what I’m learning to work.

I’ve been so much happier at work thanks to all of the above. Of course, I do still get stressed and have less fun days, but overall I’m feeling fired up and excited. And what’s not to love about that?

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Honouring our mothers (and mother figures)

As it’s Mother’s Day, I thought I would talk a bit about honouring our mothers and mother figures today.

I’m lucky. My relationship with my mum is pretty spot on. We get on, we chat – we’re friends. But I know not everyone has this. I know people who have lost their mothers. Some have a difficult relationship with them.

So, on days like today when everyone is shouting about how wonderful their mothers are – what can you do?

I like to think mothers day isn’t necessarily just for biological mothers. I think it should be a day when you can look around, see just who is supporting you and say thank you.

If your mum is around, go for coffee and talk. Talk about when you were born, what your mother went through, how it made her feel. Nobody’s perfect and being a mum is, I imagine, not all fun and games. Acknowledge this and, if you can, honour it. Honour it with a thank you, a gesture – no matter how small.

If your mother is no longer in this world (getting spiritual here guys), give her some good thoughts. Remember what she taught you when she was here and what life lessons you have learnt. Look to the mother figures in your life and reach out to say thank you (even if it’s your dad).

If you have a difficult relationship with her, think about what she’s teaching you. Even if it’s a lesson in how not to parent… And of course if you can find forgiveness and compassion in your heart, let it show.

And above all else, remember that all these ‘days’ are made up by greeting card companies and don’t have to mean jack shit if you don’t want them to.

I like being able to share my gratitude with my mum today, because I know I’m terrible at doing it any other day, so mum, I know you’re reading this…

Thank you. Thank you for all you do for our family, for supporting us, holding us together and of course for bringing us into the world. We know you’ll always be there for us and that knowledge is more than anyone could ever ask for.

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Looking after your mental health

Most of us are pretty clued up about physical health. We know what we should do to keep ourselves fit and healthy (whether or not we actually do it is another story, but you get what I’m saying), but what about looking after our mental health?

Some people will be reading this and thinking, “I don’t have a mental illness I don’t need to worry about that”, and to those people I want to say… oh honey, no.

We ALL have mental health and we ALL need to look after it.

Mental health doesn’t just cover conditions or ‘disorders’, it covers stress, loneliness, grief, feeling anxious, low self-confidence…. everything.

After experiencing my own mental health issues and working at the Counselling Directory for years, I’ve learnt a huge amount. The biggest lesson I’ve learnt though is probably that looking after ourselves and practicing self-care is key to helping prevent small concerns turning into all-consuming crises.

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Mental health is just as important as physical health. This is why I’m so keen to talk about both aspects in the ‘health‘ category of Blue Jay. To feel well and ‘healthy’ in life, we must look at the whole picture.

OK, so now I’ve lectured you all about the importance of mental health – how can we actually go about looking after it?

Below are a few things that may help. Just remember though, we’re all beautiful unique little snowflakes, so what works for me may not work for you. Take these suggestions as inspiration and see how you get on.

Looking after your mental health:

simple self-care practices

  • Check in with yourself. So often we don’t realise something is wrong until we have a physical symptom. If I’m suffering from a lot of headaches, it’s a sign that I’m stressed (or hungry… but that’s basically the same as stressed, right?). So rather than waiting for your body to say ‘hey, something aint right here’, try to check in with yourself every now and then. How are you feeling? What’s going right? What’s going wrong? What do you need?
  • Spend some quality time with you. As great as it is to be social, sometimes we all need a little alone time to process things. Why not have a night in to read your favourite book? Or go to the cinema solo to see that film your boyfriend isn’t interested in (and get all the popcorn).
  • Spend some quality time with others. Yeah, this is (contradictorily) important too. Sometimes when we’re feeling a bit off we shy away from others. If you’re feeling isolated call a friend and go for coffee. Have a chat and be honest about your feelings. You’ll be surprised how much a good chat can help.
  • Journal. I know, I always harp on about this, but I honestly think it does wonders for your mental health. Note down when things aren’t feeling right and try to spot any patterns, or just jot down some things you’re grateful for.
  • Surround yourself with positivity. Follow inspirational people on social media, read uplifting magazines, watch a film that makes you smile. The world can be a scary place, sometimes we need to protect ourselves.
  • Reach out. Sometimes, we simply need an extra hand of support. This could be from a family member, a friend, someone on an online forum or a counsellor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is a testament to your strength and courage.

Bonus tip – surround yourself with cute cats and pretty plants to remind yourself life is good. 

Nothing ground-breaking here I know, but it’s incredible how often we let our mental health fall off our priority list.

Let’s pick that bad boy up and put it to the top.

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