This week is Mental Health Awareness Week – and I wonder how many times it’s been quite so pertinent? Of course the preservation of our mental health is always a huge priority, but the current pandemic, and the strain it is putting on so many, is not to be overlooked. It’s time to be kind to yourself – and not just during Mental Health Awareness Week.
Whether it’s business owners whose livelihood is on the line. Victims of domestic abuse who feel trapped and more vulnerable than usual. Or parents of young children who suddenly are required to juggle all their usual roles as well as that of school teacher – the implications are far reaching.
This year’s focus for Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. This makes me think of not only being kind to others, but being kind to ourselves.
Something the world has noticed since Covid-19 announced itself, is how people have come closer together. Communities have supported each other in a way they perhaps never had before. Offers of shopping have been made and accepted, prescriptions have been collected, and dogs walked.
The full hearts of every nation are laid bare to give thanks to our frontline and key workers who sacrifice their health, and that of their families, to do what needs to be done.
And what about you? What have you noticed when it comes to kindness? Have you found yourself drawn closer to family and friends as phone or video calls have increased in frequency? Have you found the time to help others because you’ve gained extra hours in your day? Whatever you’ve noticed, I’m pretty sure we’ve all benefitted in some way from the wave of kindness that has been a side effect of this virus.
Be kind to yourself
How about being kind to yourself? How has that been? I wonder, in some ways, if this has been even harder for some people than it normally is?
If I asked whether you speak to yourself as kindly as you do to your friends, what would you say?! I know from experience of asking this question to clients or audiences, that not many hands go up to say yes.
We are notoriously hard on ourselves, and I dare say that some of the challenges presented during this crisis have led to us being even tougher and less giving when it comes to kindness.
So perhaps we could take some lessons from how kind people have been to each other, and step up the kindness to ourselves from here on? Here are my suggestions to help yourself thrive and feel good, rather than making yourself feel bad or inadequate.
1. Is it hard to find time for yourself?
I don’t know about you, but with a house full of people, I’m finding it hard to get a moment to myself at all!! But I do know that time for myself and by myself, is the ultimate in self care. It’s me being kind to myself. So, if I can’t find a quiet room at home to read or relax, then I take a walk. Whether it’s in blissful quiet, taking in nature around me, or plugged into a podcast or music, I’m happy either way.
2. Not getting any exercise?
Are you sick of hearing how everyone around you is running / working out / Joe Wicks-ing??! Are you quietly berating yourself for not getting around to it, or not having the motivation? Give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up.
Instead, ask yourself a few questions here. What exercise would you like to do? What would be manageable? When would it work best for you and when will you start? Can you have a reward in some way? How can you stay accountable? Remember that without making dedicated plans and being accountable somehow, it’s so easy for these things not to happen. Ultimately, if you do find something you enjoy, and can make it happen, you’re being really kind to your body and mind.
3. Judging your appearance or your snacking regularity?
Oh boy. For so many this lockdown has wreaked havoc on any sensible ideas around food, and particularly, snacking!! So, if this is you, how are you talking to yourself about it? I’m guessing it’s not with kindness?
Step back from the fridge, and from the insults or negative self talk. The kindest thing we can do for ourselves when this is going on is to stop and think about what we’re doing. It’s often mindless behaviour that doesn’t help us much in any way. Work out what your daily meal and snack plan would ideally look like, and try to stick to a healthier routine.
Ultimately, if you do slip and have a less than perfect day, where is the sense in beating yourself up about it? Be kind to yourself!! Put it behind you and move on.
Business faltering right now?
This is the case for so many people right now, and it can lead to a lot of self-doubt and negativity. The kindest thing you can do here is, as with the previous point, get a plan together. Lockdown and our current circumstances will not last forever. There will be an end, and an opportunity to move things forward once again.
Treat yourself to an extended planning and strategy session. Work out what you can be doing to make use of any quieter time you have now and get yourself organised. Then you can start to cast your mind to the future. You can read our thoughts on making this happen here.
Also, take a little check each day and congratulate yourself for everything you’ve done. Even getting up and dressed and doing some planning deserves a pat on the back. Recognise your efforts.
Zoomed out? It’s ok to say no!
Zoom calls literally went into overdrive as soon as this lockdown kicked off. Not only did we all turn to Zoom, or similar platforms, for our work meetings / workshops / events, but we also found ourselves on endless video calls and quizzes with friends! Now, as lovely as these are, and however great it is to feel connected, I for one get a little Zoomed out at times! And you know what, it’s ok to be kind to yourself and say no sometimes. It’s ok. You can do it another time!
So this Mental Health Awareness Week, ask yourself – Is there anything you’d add to this list of how to be kind to yourself? We’d love to hear about it.