Mental Health Awareness Week: How can we all be kinder to ourselves?

Mental Health Awareness Week: How can we all be kinder to ourselves?

Over the last week we have collaborated with The Blurt Foundation and MQ Mental Health Charity to mark Mental Health Awareness Week to share information and talk about what we can all do to be kinder to both ourselves and others. While we have been taking measures to safeguard our physical health more than ever at the moment, it's an important time to look at measures that we can take to equally protect our own mental health, and to help those around us to do the same. We invited you and a few friends of Lucy & Yak to share a few of their own tips.
As the Mental Health Foundation states;
"Mental health is everyone’s business. We all have times when we feel down or stressed or frightened. Most of the time those feelings pass. But sometimes they develop into a more serious problem and that could happen to any one of us. Everyone is different. You may bounce back from a setback while someone else may feel weighed down by it for a long time. Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life." ⠀

According to MQ Mental Health right now, one in four people in the UK is living with a mental health condition. That’s nearly 15 million people with an illness that affects their wellbeing, their relationships with family and friends, and their ability to work. For many the experience can be painful, exhausting and isolating.
This year's theme was kindness - at Lucy & Yak we can't get enough of that lovely stuff! As Mental Health Foundation states 'Kindness is a gesture motivated by genuine, warm feelings for others. It's not just an emotion, it's shown in our actions. Kindness helps to strengthen relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive."
We often focus on spreading kindness to others (and rightly so) especially at times of crisis. It has been so wonderful seeing the community spirit and various acts of kindness over the last few months. But it can be easy to forget that we also need to take time and be kind to ourselves. We hear about self-care a lot. But what does it really mean? ⠀

It can be any activity that we do deliberately or mindfully in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it's a simple concept in theory, it's something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety, and to make sure we have the capacity to help others too. It can be having a bath or reading a book - the small, enjoyable things done mindfully, but it can also be something less glamorous like paying a bill, booking in for a smear test, or tidying up to clear your headspace - or doing nothing at all. It's really important that we don't always need to be productive or have to buy something to make ourselves happy. It is finding whatever works for you. ⠀

To quote the lovely Jayne Hardy, founder of the Blurt Foundation in her book The Self-Care Project: "Self-care is accessible and applicable to everyone, but it’s one thing knowing the benefits and quite another to prioritise it. ⠀Life can be noisy. It can be exhausting too. There are too many things vying for our attention, and sometimes we inadvertently forget how important our wellbeing is. We forget what it is that nourishes us. We forget that we matter."⠀
Jayne created an IGTV video for us earlier this week, sharing her top 3 self-care tips (you can see the full video on our Instagram here);

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As part of Mental Health Awareness Week and our conversation on how you can show more kindness to yourself this week, @jaynehardy_ founder of @theblurtfoundation is jumping onto our IGTV today to share 3 ways you can bring kindness and self-care into your day to day routine.⁣ ⁣ Blurt is a social enterprise dedicated to helping those affected by depression. They believe that mental health is just as important as physical health and they challenge the stigma and judgement that can come with mental health that prevents people reaching out for help. ⁣ ⁣ After suffering from depression in her 20's, Jayne set up @theblurtfoundation to not only change lives but to save them too. She wanted to prevent other people from feeling the isolation that she found so difficult, by building an online platform and community that allows powerful connections and support systems to be made, provides valuable resources and where talking about depression, and other mental health conditions is encouraged and supported. ❤️

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  1. Be gentle to yourself when you make mistakes! Especially at the moment, it feels like every other step we take right now isn't quite right - but that is okay. There's no blueprint for this time! We are completely winging it so if something doesn't go quite as planned, show yourself kindness, you are doing your best! We gain a lot more from our mistakes than we do when things go according to plan - reframing mistakes as lessons to learn from going forward is a great way to do this!

2. Have self-care anchors throughout your day! Set little pockets of time aside within the day to check in with yourself and to ground you - no matter of what the rest of your day holds, these anchors will act as check points for you. Be it that a walk around the block, repotting your houseplants or just sitting on the sofa away from your laptop for 10 mins, granting yourself this time should help you feel less overwhelmed when things out of your control might become more stressful. Now more than ever, our brains are on high alert. Our everyday lives have been simmered down to a smaller amount of space and a smaller amount of social interactions, and sometimes that can feel like it's looming. In these moments, it's important to lean into the things that provide us with comfort, safety and warmth.

3. Create your own buddy box. Figure out the things in your life that help you find calm, get creative, energise or excite you. This could be a text message from a friend, a candle in your favourite scent, we recommend a notebook and pen! Whatever your things are that make you feel these ways - pop them in a box or write them in a list, and when you are having a not-so-great day, you can dive in, be surrounded by things that make you feel good. Inspired by this, we wanted to invite you to create your own buddy box self-care kit! What small things bring you joy at the moment? Rooted in the senses, it's can be collection of physical items that you can put in a basket/box or it can be a digital list that you can access anytime to make your day a little better in that moment. Your kit should be personal to you and your specific tastes, but we've put together a few ideas below to get you started:

  • Your favourite tea
  • A playlist of your favourite songs or power anthem
  • A face refresher spray
  • Art supplies
  • Your favourite essential oils
  • A copy of your favourite book
  • Yoga matt
  • A scented candle
  • List of podcasts
  • A phone call with family or a friend
  • A notebook and pen to log how you feel
  • A walk or run
  • Pictures of family, pets, friends - anything that you love
  • A Meditation session
The wonderful Ben Pechey also shared their top tips about looking after their mental health during lockdown. They emphasised that the small changes you can make to your day to day life really can make the biggest differences. Giving yourself a routine, separating productivity from leisure, be that in physical spaces or just by splitting up your day, can help you find a new-normal, and adjust to the way life is right now. Give yourself the gifts of routine and breaks and see what a difference this could make for you! (You can watch the whole video over on our Instagram page)
Earlier in the week, we also asked you to share your tips on how you can show more kindness to yourself. Fifteen minutes a day is only 1% of our day – how can we all dedicate this 1% of our day on something that brings us joy? Here are some of your lovely suggestions!
  • Writing in a diary/journal when I get into bed every night to reflect on the day and get any thoughts / worries out before sleeping @sunflowerpowerb
  • Getting lost in a hobby you love - @etty_mihai
  • Starting the day with meditation with bird chirping in the background @onedayoverthemeadow
  • Spending small parts of the day doing a craft! @lucyhullolly1984
  • Taking the time to have a cup of tea in bed every morning! It's become a valuable ritual @picturethisbooks
  • Letting people around me know how I'm feeling, and being honest with them and myself is the best self-care for me @ashriddell
We also wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a few organisations and charities doing wonderful work and can provide expert information, support and advice for anyone wanting to find out more.
Blurt Foundation:
Founded by Jayne Hardy, Blurt is a UK based social enterprise dedicated to helping those affected by depression, increasing awareness and understanding. They provide tools and knowledge, and work closely with medical practitioners, employers, schools and companies to help them understand depression, what it means and how they can support those affected. They provide an array of free online resources and a buddy box service - a monthly subscription box full of self-care items to help your or a friend practice self-kindness every month.
MQ are a mental health research charity with a vision to create a world where mental illnesses are understood, effectively treated and one day made preventable. MQ stands for mental health and quality of life - two things they believe we can be transformed best through research. With the help of supporters and a global network of leading scientists, they are the leading charity funding this much-needed scientific research to transform the lives of everyone affected by mental illness.
5% of sales from our Our 'Kind, Caring, Mindful' tee in Malaga Maroon’ tee will be donated to MQ, to help fund vital research into mental health.
Self-Esteem Team
Launched in 2014 by Grace Barrett and Nadia Mendoza, The Self-Esteem Team deliver emotional and lifestyle education workshops to students, parents and teachers throughout the UK and beyond. With classes covering topics such as mental health, self-esteem, sexuality, drugs and addiction, they aim to de-stigmatise the tough stuff, normalise these conversations in everyday life and equip young people with the tools needed to navigate an ever-changing world. The talks are rooted in clinical study, twinned with strategies and practical advice that the students can apply immediately.
Mental Health Mates
Launched in 2016 with a single tweet, when Bryony Gordon invited others to join her for a walk around the Serpentine in London, Mental Health Mates is a network of peer support groups run by the community and people with mental health issues, who meet regularly to walk, exercise and share without fear or judgement. You do not have to have a diagnosed mental health issue to join their meet-ups – everyone has mental health and everyone is welcome. For more info and to find your nearest group check their website.
7 Cups of Tea
7 Cups is an online support service that provides caring listeners with free emotional support. They have self-help guides to look through and a free 24/7 chat service with volunteer listeners. They have facilitated over 40,000,000 conversations about mental health and have helped over 25 million people.
Be There
Be There is a Canadian based mental health organisation, they have some amazing resources to help you know how to be there for others. Their golden rules are a great way to understand how you can best support a loved one struggling with their mental health. They also have a section dedicated to being there for yourself.
The Hub of Hope
Endorsed by the Samaritans and 25 other national mental health support organisations and trusts, The Hub of Hope is the world’s first of its kind mental health database bringing grassroots and national mental health services together in one place for the first time ever. Using the location of web browsers or mobile devices, the cloud-based web application allows anyone, anywhere to find the nearest source of support for any mental health issue, from depression and anxiety to PTSD, as well as providing a ‘talk now’ button connecting users directly to the Samaritans.
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