Mental Health Awareness Week: Five Ways to be kind to yourself

During Mental Health Awareness Week, local energie Fitness gym owner and health and well-being expert Rob Francis gives us five simple steps to help improve and support our mental well-being in these challenging times.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness week is to “be kind”. It’s not quite as obvious a statement as it may first seem. Of course we should always strive to show care, respect and to be kind to those around us. But Rob from energie Fitness in Kiln Farm believes, "we aren't as good at extending that effort to ourselves."

He continues, "we are our own fiercest critics. We say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t dream of saying to others - berating ourselves internally. We criticise ourselves for the smallest errors. We get annoyed at ourselves. We rarely tell ourselves that we did something great.

Just think...when was the last time you actually took a moment to congratulate yourself? Did you tell yourself “well done” for home schooling the kids today. Or said to yourself “top job” for completing your dead line for work on time...or did you simply start looking at the next project and stress about meeting the next dead line?

If we are not careful our continual lack of regard for ourselves can become a problem and eventually lead to depression, anxiety and stress."

Rob's top five tips to self care and being kind to ourselves;

  1. "Celebrate your achievements. I don’t mean the big stuff. I mean the little things. Did you get up straight away this morning and make yourself a decent breakfast before starting work? If so - well done you. It’s not everyone who will take the time to fix themselves a good breakfast in preparation for the day ahead! Or maybe you made the bed and tidied the room? In which case - brilliant! You’ve done something positive that will mean you’ll go back to bed tonight in a nice tidy, calming environment!

  2. Treat each day...except maybe the weekends...like you’re at work before lock down. What did you used to do? You would get up at a decent time. You would wash, brush your teeth, do your hair and fix your make up. You dressed tidily and, although you may not have realised it at the time, you made yourself feel ready, prepared and empowered for the day ahead. So don’t just stay in your pyjamas til lunch time. Get up, get going and get started. Make yourself feel ready for the day ahead.

  3. Make time to do some exercise. It’s a well known fact that physical exercise, even light exercise, releases endorphins; the positive feeling hormones, and makes you feel more energised. Do something each day. Even a brisk walk will do. You’ll feel so much better for it. Our physical and mental health are so closely linked, it’s hard to have one without the other.

  4. Get outdoors...particularly in the morning. Our bodies and brains need to know that the day has begun. The day light and fresh air will ensure that your body clock is set and will help you sleep at night. Make sure you get even as little as 20 minutes, but make sure you get some fresh air. Maybe make that time your exercise time for the day too - two birds, one stone!!

  5. Stay connected! Speak to someone every day. We need to talk and to listen to other people. If you’re at home all day alone, get on Facetime, Zoom or even just pick up the good old phone! When you chat make sure you take time to listen first. Think of it as a way to “earn” your turn to talk. This way you’ll be making someone else feel better as well as yourself!"

There are many more things we can do to “be kind” to ourselves. But these five are a good place to start.

Rob reminds us, "And remember if you put in place any single one of these actions today- you should feel proud and congratulate yourself on taking a positive step to improving your mental well being!”