Brene Brown is a researcher whose TED Talk on vulnerability has been viewed over 46 million times. We may have come to believe through our cultural, societal and familial influences that hiding, suppressing or avoiding our feelings is a display of strength. However, Brown's research demonstrates that rather than being a sign of weakness, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable takes true strength and courage. As Brown explains, we cannot selectively numb our emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive ones. Sharing our vulnerability, exploring our emotions and understanding our experiences can ultimately ease our distress and increase our connection.
Time to Talk is a national campaign led by Time to Change. Its aim is to get everyone talking about mental health and thereby address and eliminate the stigma surrounding it.
Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet we may still feel isolated and ashamed when we are struggling with our own mental health. This year, Time to Talk Day is on Thursday 6 February. By encouraging open and honest conversations and sharing how we are feeling, the hope is that barriers will be broken down, relationships improved and recovery aided.
Following a recommendation, I recently purchased 'The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse' by Charlie Mackesy. Through a series of heartfelt conversations and beautiful illustrations, the book explores universal feelings and experiences, such as courage, love and friendship. The author sees the characters as representing aspects of the same person, with the horse being the wisest, deepest part:
"What is the bravest thing you've ever said?" asked the boy. "Help" said the horse.
"Asking for help isn't giving up" said the horse. "It's refusing to give up."
As we move into December thoughts of Christmas tend to fill more of our time. We may feel uplifted at the prospect of a festive period filled with connection, joy, fun and warmth. However, with internal and/or external expectations of happiness and perfection, there is also the potential for feelings of anxiety, stress and overwhelm. For some of us it can be a difficult time of year, with feelings of loss, disconnect and loneliness exacerbated.
Whatever feelings the Christmas period brings up for us, it is important to practice self-care. The Mental Health Foundation has provided some advice and tips that we all might benefit from at this time: How can I be more resilient?.
International Stress Awareness Week is taking place Monday 4 - Friday 8 November 2019. The aim is to raise the profile of stress and stress prevention, and to promote wellbeing in the workplace.
This year's theme is resilience and how we can learn to build our resilience to better cope with the stresses we encounter in our lives: How can I be more resilient?.
World Mental Health Day is on Thursday 10 October 2019. Its purpose is to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against social stigma. Its theme this year is suicide prevention, which follows World Suicide Prevention Day held in September.
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK are affected by mental health problems and so it is important that we all take care of our mental wellbeing: Practice Self-Care.
Tuesday 10 September 2019 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Global organisations come together annually to raise awareness about how we can support ourselves and each other better and reduce the stigma around mental ill health, encourage help-seeking and ultimately reduce the number of suicides.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides a list of ways we can improve our emotional wellbeing, which may be helpful for all of us to consider: Practice Self-Care.
However, if you are in distress or despair, Samaritans provides support 24 hours a day.
Many of us are aware of the effects of the winter months on our mood and may have heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). As we continue into August, it may be of interest to consider how we can also be negatively impacted during the summer months: Why sunshine can make you SAD.
"As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel. But if you hope to mobilise your inner capacities for growth and for healing and to take charge in your life on a new level, a certain kind of effort and energy on your part will be required ... It will take conscious effort on your part to move in a direction of healing and inner peace. This means learning to work with the very stress and pain that is causing you to suffer."
We may be aware of the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature. However, I was interested to read that recent research has quantified the amount of time needed for positive impacts: Nature significantly boosts health. Also, I particularly liked reading about ‘forest bathing’ which promotes mindful experiencing of the sights, sounds and smells of the forest to improve health and wellbeing: Getting back to nature: how forest bathing can make us feel better.
I believe it is really important that it is being highlighted how body issues impact individuals regardless of their age, gender, sexuality and ethnicity, and how these issues affect our mental health: Mental health awareness week Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019 hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.