Be kind to your mind - a message from Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP
World Mental Health Day is this October 10th, and the 2021 theme is “Look Up, Look Out & Look Forward"
This year, of course, we have had the stress of COVID and the uncertainty created by lockdowns as a background to all the usual ups and downs of living, along with reading and seeing the regular reports of world events. I certainly need time out for me in the midst of all of this so I can recharge my mental and physical batteries to remain an effective, empathetic leader and a support to my friends and family.
But how do we take time out when we feel so many demands on our time? There are little things we can do every day – and those little things can add up to feeling and being healthier and more resilient in mind and body.
Keeping a routine comes top of my list. Things like going to bed and getting up at around the same time every day helps establish good sleep. Making time for exercise, catching up with friends - FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, calls, texts (or face-to-face if possible) - and doing things that are just plain fun are important for all of us so we can move away from constantly doing and thinking about work or worrying about things we can’t change.
On the topic of having fun, putting together a feel-good toolkit is a great investment in feeding your wellbeing. When you’re in need, you can go to your feel-good toolkit for an emotional lift. It might contain a list of your favourite comforting music, a soft cushion to lie on, a chocolate treat, essential oils, an inspirational book, or a list of quotes. We can be creative about how we can help ourselves feel good. Along the same lines, we can look for the good. It’s important to counterbalance the heavy information with the hopeful. There’s still so much good and beauty in the world if we choose to pay attention to it. And try forgiving others and accepting yourself. I know it’s easier said than done. But acknowledging many people are on edge at the moment, for similar reasons that you may also be feeling on edge, can help us find the ability to move on when in the past we might have reacted. Similarly, acknowledging the stresses we are living with can help us find self-acceptance and self-forgiveness when we act in ways we later regret.
When checking in on those around us, there are certain signs to watch out for and things you can do if you notice a change, see our Mental Health Awareness Wellbeing Tool which explains this further. It's important that we look after and be kind to ourselves and others after such a long year.
Sally Kirkright, CEO AccessEAP