Earlier this morning, I had started writing a blog post about mental health awareness. I had written a nice little piece about taking care of yourself first so that you can better help those around you.
After writing a big chunk of it, I had to close up my laptop and head to another building for work. In doing so, I took everything with me, knowing I’d be gone for the day. With my hands full (I always carry more than I need for the day) I had no choice but to take in my surroundings during my walk across town. As I walked and observed my surroundings, I quickly realised that I had never stopped to look at the buildings before. I’m normally in a rush or am so engrossed in sorting problems on my phone that I don’t notice the unique history of Auckland City and its many sky scrapers.
I certainly felt like a big hypocrite wanting to write to you about self-care when I wasn’t exactly taking care of myself to begin with. For the past wee while I’ve been so busy helping others around me and taking on additional work that I haven’t taken much time for me. I must say though, I feel so much better after the walk this morning and taking the time to stop and take notice of the world around me.
Next week is mental health awareness week here in New Zealand. This is led by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF). The MHF has some excellent recommendations for maintaining your own wellbeing, such as “Take Notice”, similar to what I had done this morning. To take notice is to be aware and be present of the world around you. To reflect on experiences and appreciate what matters most to you.
In fact, the Mental Health Foundation recommends the following 5 ways to wellbeing:
Take Notice – Stop and take notice of the world around you. Be aware and be present in the moment. Reflect on experiences and appreciate what matters most to you. Take a long walk outside in the sunshine. Watch the morning sun rise. Watch the sun set. Take it in.
Connect – Connecting with others around you including family, friends, colleagues or your community. Doing so connects and enriches your life every day. Think of these relationships as the cornerstone of your life and invest time in developing them.
Give – Do something nice for someone else. Thank them. Compliment them. Volunteer or join a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be rewarding. It feels good to give and everybody has something to offer. How can you give to others?
Keep Learning – Learn something new. Read. Explore. Challenge yourself. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun. Try new experiences and dare yourself!
Be Active – Get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Get amongst your garden, pull some weeds or plant something new. Exercise makes you feel great! Find a physical activity that you enjoy and that you can do. Do what you can, enjoy what you do and move your mood!
Taking the time to care for our own wellbeing means that we are better able to help those around us. And in doing so, we are able to live a happier and more rewarding life. I strongly recommend looking further into what you can do for your own wellbeing. I know I’m going to start doing a bit more to be connected and take notice as these are areas that I am not doing enough in and think I can benefit from.
Are you worried about someone? Or not sure if you should be worried about someone you know? Even if you’re close to a person, it can be hard to tell how much pain they are in and whether they need help. Often times, it could be as simple as a feeling that something doesn’t seem right. More often than not, your hunch will be right. You might see it in yourself or in someone else. Or, someone could see it in you. Please, visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website where there are some suggestions on what you can do.
Please remember that you are never alone. That there is help available. Please spread the word about mental health awareness. If you’re in New Zealand, get amongst the many Mental Health Awareness activities going on. But most importantly, if you see someone that needs help, talk to them. Actively listen and let them know you are there for them.