New Year’s Resolutions
We hear it every year, don’t we? Setting intentions and then giving up on New Year’s resolutions. The second Friday in January is apparently when most people quit or “fail” their New Year’s resolutions in some way. It can be down to the time of year, feeling pressured into setting them or wanting to see quick results and feeling disheartened. I gave up this practice a long time ago as January is a time I want to hunker down, drink copious amounts of tea and read. Not set endless goals to feel stressed about.
In order to shift the focus away from New Year, New You rhetoric, I asked key mental health thought leaders how they kept themselves well all year round. Hence the term wellbeing 365. These thought leaders are all trusted people I know, have worked with or found their content extremely useful on social media. Many of them have lived experience of mental-ill health, recovery journeys and are mindful in the way in which they look after themselves. I was very pleased to share their pearls of wisdom with you. Here’s what they had to say.
Poppy Jaman OBE: A Leader in the Global Conversation on Mental Health
I met Poppy in May 2013, during her time as the CEO of MHFA England. Poppy was a role model for me at the time and supported me to establish the MHFA England Higher and Further Forum. Poppy is a passionate and positive advocate for mental health and wellbeing in her role as CEO for the City Mental Health Alliance.
“For me it’s a series of small activities that contribute to my wellbeing. I’ve started hot yoga again it’s one of my most favourite forms of activity. I do weight-bearing exercise twice a week. I’ve started drinking haldi (turmeric) milk. I read a lot, nurture and am learning to care more for my plants. I am part of a global saree network which keeps me connected to women, my love for sarees and gives me something to indulge in that’s separate to family and work.”
- You can find out more about City Mental Health Alliance here: http://citymha.org.uk/
- Poppy Jaman Associates here: http://poppyjaman.org/
Danielle Mensah: CEO of QiDanChi
I know Danielle from LinkedIn where she reached out to me and we have had interesting discussions. Danielle is an executive coach and adviser to companies and leaders wanting to create sustainable change.
“I consider “self-care” in all its forms and whatever it means to you, to be vitally important. The first thing I do is notice my state. Am I calm, easy flowing thoughts, belly breathing, smiling / laughing and focused when doing tasks or am I agitated, belly swirling, chest breathing, thoughts racing and distracted? If the latter, I know I won’t be at my best. So then I do things I know calm me down, like deep breathing exercises, tai chi, meditation, nap, walk in nature, magnesium bath, relaxing music I love.”
“I also pay a lot of attention to the quality and variety of food I eat in order to nourish my cells. Nothing is restricted so long as it’s made of the right ingredients in the right way (in today’s heavily polluted food chain that means making a lot of fresh food and smart sourcing). Optimal nutrition for me is organic, whole food, diverse plants, grass-fed meat, raw dairy with plenty of healthy fats, most of the time!”
- You can find out more about Daniell’s work and QiDanChi here: linkedin.com/in/daniellemensahperformance
- Danielle also featured on the Petra’s (see below) Adversity to Advantage Podcast, episode 57 from Self Harm to Total Confidence, you can listen here: http://petravelzeboer.com/podcast/57-with-danielle-mensah
Jaspreet Kaur: Poet at Behind the Netra
I met Jaspreet at The Rising Network’s Festival as part of International Women’s Day in March 2018. Jaspreet is an inspirational poet and speaks about her mental health experience and journey as an Asian Sikh woman. She is the winner of both the Asian Women of the Year award by Women of the Future in the Arts and Culture category and ‘We Are The City’ Rising Star Award in Education in 2017. She was a Finalist for the National Diversity Award for being a Positive Role Model and has been voted one of the Top 10 Inspirational Sikh Women in the UK
‘’Remember to kind to your body, gentle with your mind and patient with your heart. We’re often so busy trying to save the world, that we forget that we need to look after ourselves before we can attempt to do that.’’
- You can find out more about Jaspreet’s work here: www.behindthenetra.com
- See her in action here: www.youtube.com/behindthenetra
Neil Laybourn: Co-Founder of This Can Happen Conference Mental Health Conference and Charity Ambassador to Rethink Mental Illness & Mental Health UK
I met Neil Laybourn as the tenth anniversary celebration of MHFA England. Neil was a keynote speaker with Jonny Benjamin whom he has worked with as a result of a conversation which stopped Jonny taking his own life. You can read more about that here.
“Family and relationships keep me grounded and when I think I’m not giving enough attention to my close friends and family – I act quickly to rectify this – really connecting in real life, face to face conversations, brings much joy and provides experiences and perspectives i then put back into my work and passions.”
- Find out more about Neil Laybourn’s work here: https://www.tchevents.com/personnel/neil-laybourn/
Petra Velzeboer: International Keynote Speaker, Mental Health Consultant, Podcast Host, Exec Coach, Psychotherapist and Training Provider
I was honoured to be a guest on Petra’s Adversity to Advantage podcast episode 55 in November 2018 talking about workplace bullying. Petra has had a truly inspirational journey herself and shares her wisdom with all.
“I love my work so much that I sometimes need to be careful of overworking or moving towards burnout. I reflect regularly on how my body and mind are feeling. For example: do I have a pressure on my chest, am I short-tempered with my children, these types of things are clues that I need to pull back and look after myself.”
“I love a good morning routine which isn’t always the same but is there in some version: it might include gratitude, exercise, healthy food and setting the intention of who I want to be that day. The other thing that is always included in my life is investing in deep connections with people who I can fully be myself with. The single most powerful tool we have is our story, as being able to talk when we feel like isolating propels us to greater strength and wellbeing.”
- Find out more about Petra’s work here: http://petravelzeboer.com/
- Listen to the Adversity to Advantage Podcast here: http://petravelzeboer.com/podcast/
Hope Virgo: Author of Stand Tall Little Girl and Mental Health Campaigner and Public Speaker
Hope’s work has gone from strength-to-strength and her campaigning doesn’t stop. She has featured on the BBC talking about anorexia. She has also launched a campaign called Dump the Scales to highlight eating disorders are not just about weight.
“Being a mental health advocate I am very conscious of my own wellbeing and managing it in the right way. I learnt they hard way over the last year when I came close to burning out. What I learnt was work life balance is key. You can’t pour from empty so we need to make sure all our time has boundaries and that we manage them in the right way. We need to prioritise some ‘me’ time each week whether that’s watching something on the television to reading a chapter of a book. This is crucial for my wellbeing and helping me stay on track with my recovery.”
- You can find out more about Hope’s work here: http://hopevirgo.com/
- Please sign Hope’s campaign to #dumpthescales: https://www.change.org/p/eating-disorders-are-not-just-about-weight-dumpthescales
Ruth Cooper-Dickson: Founder and Managing Director Champs Consulting
Ruth and I are both MHFA instructors and met during a CPD day for instructors in Leeds. I have been inspired by Ruth’s work and the programmes she runs for her clients. Ruth is a patron of the charity No Panic and is a MHFA England Ambassador.
“I look after myself by always taking time to carve out some ‘me time’ first thing in the morning. Generally, this for about 45 minutes and includes meditation, crystal healing, journaling and yoga. The time is so precious to me and it ensures I am feeling grounded for the day ahead.”
- Find out more about Ruth’s work here: champsconsult.com
Nadia Mendoza: The Self-Esteem Team
Nadia joined in my twitter chat for World Mental Health Day in October 2018. She is one half of the Self-Esteem Team alongside Grace Barrett, providing advice even Google can’t give! They give school talks on mental health/anxiety/PSHE to empower young people in schools.
“Physically, my number one go-to for TLC is a bath. It sounds so simple, but it works such magic! Kicking back, door closed, bath bomb fizzing, reading a good book, letting your mind wander, it’s nothing short of pure escapism. Just leave the phone in another room”!
“Mentally, I’ve found that learning to read other people and put myself in their shoes has helped mellow me. For example, if someone hasn’t replied to a message or someone responds differently in a conversation to how I’d expect, rather than obsess or worry about it, I understand that each person is navigating their own brain just as I am mine, and I can’t control how anyone reacts to me. That’s been a pretty powerful realisation that allows me to relax in any situation because it’s literally out of my control. It’s like the adult version of telling a child ‘it’s okay, it’s not your fault”.
- Find out about the Self-Esteem Team’s work here: https://www.selfesteemteam.org/
Jonny Ward: The Anxious Fireman Mental Health Training
Jonny and I have connected on LinkedIn and I love the insights and articles Jonny shares on his social media from the perspective of working in the emergency services. He has first-hand experience of dealing with mental and physical health problems both professionally and more importantly personally. He also works part-time as a psychotherapist treating young adults for various mental health and emotional problems.
“You don’t know how well you are until you are not. But it is this attachment to a somewhat expected wellness that I find causes most problems. In my life I try to sit with what is, good or bad. Both give way to each other eventually and both are there to teach you lessons.”
- You can find out more about Jonny’s work here: https://theanxiousfireman.co.uk/
Sarah Card: Blogger and Mental Health Champion
Sarah and I connected on Twitter last year. I have learned a lot from her blog and personal mental health journey. She blogs for my own therapy and on Huff Post on mental health, parenting & lifestyle & live with borderline personality disorder & anxiety. Sarah’s her blog, was nominated for UK Blog Awards for Mental Health in 2019.
“Try not to be so judgmental of others and also try not to judge yourself. Judging anyone else will only bring you down. Instead, try to find that person’s positive intent and also your own intent, be empathetic and forgiving. Life is short so if anything, be kind”.
- You can read Sarah’s blog here: https://sarahsthinkingagain.blog/
Charlotte Underwood: Blogger, Author, Freelance Writer, Mental Health Advocate & Suicide Survivor
Charlotte shares her story and my experiences with the world as a young woman. Charlotte’s blog is shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards 2019. Her blogs are thought-provoking covering a range of subjects.
“I look after myself by giving myself the self-respect and love that I needed when things were dark ♥️.”
- You can find out more about Charlotte’s work here: https://charlotteunderwoodauthor.com/about-charlotte-underwood/
Anneli Roberts: Working to fight for mental health awareness
I connected with Anneli on Twitter and I have been following her with avid interest. Anneli started Pigletish (inspiration from Piglet in Winnie the Pooh) in March 2017 as a way to document her recovery from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I’ve learned over the years to work WITH my mental illness, rather than against it. I’ve learned that, rather than conceding, working with it actually means that I recover far quicker than if I tried to fight it. There are moments you can fight and keep it at bay, but generally you’re just delaying the inevitable – if you can learn to work with your brain; rest it, nurture it, love it, feed it; then you’ll go far. Pick your battles.”
- Find out more about Anneli’s work here: https://pigletish.com/
- Listen to the podcast here: https://pigletish.com/listen/
Leyla Okhai: Speaker, Trainer, Coach and Consultant Mental Health in the Workplace, Director of Diverse Minds UK
“Finally, for me, it’s all about the pre-sleep routine. I need a lot of sleep to function. I give myself an hour so I can get cosy by reading or do some bedtime yoga. To help me sleep deeply I drink valerian tea.”
- Find out more about Diverse Minds: https://diverseminds.co.uk
- LinkIn with me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leyla-okhai-diversemindsuk/
I wish you all the best for the year ahead. Let us know how you keep yourself well through the year, beyond New Year’s resolutions. We look forward to hearing what you do.