Time to Talk Day: Caring for Your Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
The 1st of February is Time to Talk Day. Every year, Time to Talk Day is a reminder of the power of checking in – with ourselves, our friends, family members, partners, and colleagues.
Amidst tight work deadlines, school pick-ups, and all the other things we have to fit into our lives on a daily basis, it can be all too easy to let our emotional wellbeing slide – and sometimes we don’t realise before our mental health has already been significantly impacted.
In this blog post, we’re using Time to Talk Day as an opportunity to talk about the measures you can take to keep your emotional wellbeing in check, supporting you to live your best life and thrive at work and at home.
Look after yourself
Even if you’ve got other people depending on you – elderly parents, children, friends, or colleagues – it’s essential not to neglect self-care. If someone seeks your support, take a moment to assess your own well-being. As emphasised in pre-flight emergency guidance, put your own oxygen mask on before helping others! Investing time in self-care makes sure that you’re not forgetting to pay attention to your own wellbeing while helping others. Not only this, but it also puts you in a better position to provide support to those relying on you. Practise what you preach!
Ask for help if you need it
Some of us find asking for help easy, while for others, it can feel impossible. However, even if you find expressing your feelings difficult, it couldn’t be more important to help you get the support you need. Avoid suffering in silence and reach out for help when needed. Sharing and seeking support is the first step towards acceptance or change when faced with challenging situations or emotions.
In turn, endeavour to support others by listening and empathising, whether it’s a family member, friend, or colleague. Create a safe space for conversation, and refrain from dismissing or judging people for their emotions. Gentle prompts like “How are you feeling?” or “How are things at home?” allow the other person the opportunity to articulate their challenges. Instead of always offering solutions, providing a listening ear and non-judgmental support can significantly help someone move forward positively.
Make the effort to connect with others
Maintaining connections with others is crucial in order to ward off loneliness and keep our spirits high. Use technology to stay connected; be proactive about picking up the phone, send a message, or organise an online or in-person meeting with friends, family, or colleagues for a social catch-up.
Look out for ‘Champagne Moments’ and ‘Pockets of Joy’
If you are feeling low, it can feel difficult to appreciate the uplifting moments in life. If you’re vigilant, you will find them; it might just be appreciating a well-earned cuppa after hoovering the house, enjoying the sensation of being wrapped up warm on a walk after a fresh snowfall, completing the final touches to painting a room or pressing the ‘Send’ button after finishing a work project. Learn to celebrate these ‘champagne moments’ of enjoyment or achievement and give yourself a moment to appreciate them with all your senses, before moving on.
Encourage friends, family, and colleagues to share with you what’s brought them joy. Encourage others to set little personal goals of finding the champagne moments and pockets of joy in their days too. They all count! Sharing these moments will compound these joyful feelings and will help to carry us all through the day!
The significance of having things to look forward to
Having things to look forward to is so important, even if they’re just small moments! Concentrate on shorter timeframes – perhaps looking just a week or two ahead. This could involve organising a team social, starting a book club, or having a quiz night with friends.
It’s really important to get outside every day, for your mental and physical well-being. It’s so easy to look out of the window, see a dull, uninviting rainy day, and rationalise staying behind closed doors… for yet another day. But why not wrap up warm, take a flask if you need more encouragement, and get outside every day, preferably during daylight hours, even if it’s just for a walk around the block.
Use mindfulness to deepen the benefit of time spent outside
Take some gentle deep breaths in and out, focusing on the movement of your breath. Then, place your focus on what you can see, hear, and feel. Focus on one sense at a time… what can you hear nearby? Then widen your perspective to more distant sounds… birds chirping… the sound of someone walking along… a car starting up down the street, the distant rumble of traffic… maybe the faint noise of a train or an aeroplane in the distance.
Then add to this awareness… what you can see? The new growth of early buds on shrubs, daffodils beginning to push through, branches on trees moving or still? The shapes of the clouds in the sky… keep building the sensory awareness of the present. You will be amazed at how much you have never noticed before! The more you begin noticing, the more you’ll build on this focused awareness.
If your mind wanders into other thoughts, let these thoughts gently drift away and re-focus on the input from your senses. Come back refreshed and ready to continue your day!
Plan your day to get the most out of the natural light and nature
Research has shown that getting sufficient natural light and enjoying nature are both extremely beneficial for our mental wellbeing. Light is also a major influence in maintaining a healthy sleep/wake cycle. So, seek out the windows which allow the most light and, if you’re on a break, try and get outside or take your break by a window where you can see the sky and preferably some nature, to give you a sense of space.
The days are still short, so try and ensure that your living space is well-lit as daylight fades, making sure you’re not straining your eyes to see properly.
The benefits spending time enjoying nature can have on your mental health and wellbeing are well-documented. If you’re living in a built-up area, seeking nature close to home may feel difficult for you – but there’s always something! You could pop to the park down the road, watch the trees on your street changing through the seasons, surround yourself with photos of nature at home, or buy yourself some fresh flowers or house plants.
Listening to sounds of nature using recordings or apps that play birdsong, falling rain, or the sound of waves is another way of reaping the benefits nature has to offer us. You could also plant some bulbs or herbs (you can do this inside or in a window box if you’re stuck for space) and enjoy how they quickly thrive!
Keep your daily routine in check
Routine is important for multiple reasons; without structure and routine, time seems to speed up, and our days can feel like they’re blurring into each other. A healthy sleep/wake cycle also depends on set wake-up/go-to-sleep times and regular meal times. It’s important for your mental health too; it gives your mind a sense of order and calm. Feeling organised helps you to maintain a good, balanced routine between work and leisure.
Focus on things you can positively change
Try to focus on the things that you can change for the better. It’s helpful to write up a list of what you want and what you would like to change. You could commit to a larger project like redesigning one of your living space areas, such as your bedroom. Or a smaller project such as decluttering or exercising regularly. If cooking is your thing, try widening your meal repertoire! If you like to use your mind, perhaps you could have a go at learning a new language? The possibilities are endless!
Try activities that give you a sense of achievement
When you look back on your day and feel like you’ve achieved something, it makes you feel good! Build in some time each day to do something that gives you a sense of accomplishment. This could be as simple as conquering the ironing pile, checking through your bank statements, sewing a button on a shirt, doing some meal prep for the week ahead, or finishing some decorating.
Create a balance with the things you enjoy
When you’re feeling anxious or low, it can be challenging to focus on things that bring you joy and improve your wellbeing. During tough and pressured times, we often neglect to make time for these enjoyable pursuits, allowing them to slide to the bottom of our priority list. So, remember how crucial it is each day to carve out time to engage in something fun! Or, simply take some moments for yourself, like relaxing in a bath, cooking your favourite meal, or listening to an audiobook.
Different things make different people happy, so figure out what it is that brings you joy and relish in it. Whether it’s a bit of DIY, tinkering with your bike, painting, playing a musical instrument, reading a good book, or listening to music, all these things can help support your emotional wellbeing. As the saying goes, ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’!
Be aware of media overload
It is important to stay connected with current affairs, but ‘everything in moderation’ is wise advice here. The media can be overwhelming and disheartening, so it’s essential to be mindful about how much you consume and how it makes you feel. If it starts to make you feel worried or overwhelmed, take a break and get back to your present moment. You should also stick to reliable and trustworthy sources of news and information to avoid help avoid sensationalism.
Social media is great for helping you stay in touch with people, but it can also make you feel anxious, as people tend to use these channels to circulate news stories, post personal updates, and share opinions, which can add to our anxiety levels and decrease our sense of wellbeing. So, be mindful of how you use these channels and when you view postings during the day. For example, you might tidy up your ‘following’ list – stick to people or accounts that make you feel good. It might also be a good idea to limit social media use at the beginning and end of each day to help you get your day off to a food start and wind down before bed.
Looking after your mental health couldn’t be more important. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so keep yours full by doing what makes you happy! Whether it’s going for a run, meeting up with friends, cooking, or keeping an eye on how you consume news and social media, it’s likely that you’ll need a combination of different measures to keep your mood on an even keel. Knowing how to keep yourself happy and calm is the key to living a more content, joyful life.