How are you?
It’s a seemingly straightforward question we ask and get asked every day. Often though, it’s used more like a casual greeting than a proper question, as though it’s simply another way of saying: ‘Hey there, person I know!’
Whenever this has happened to you, you’ve probably replied with a quick: ‘Oh, fine – and you?’ Then, the other person likely responded much the same: ‘Fine, thanks!’ And with that, you’ve both moved swiftly on to other topics of discussion.
Within seconds of greeting each other, we’ve often – quite unintentionally, like an involuntary reflex – briefly acknowledged then quickly dismissed the very notion that we each have an inner world, populated by a host of emotions both mixed and messy. Put another way, we all instinctively know mental health is important, but we aren’t always so practiced at giving each other – or ourselves – the space and time to share and reflect on what’s going on inside.
Keeping this in mind, here’s a self check-in challenge for you to try whenever you feel able to this week:
- Find a quiet place – a spot where you feel comfortable, safe, and relatively undistracted. Mute or turn off your phone if it’s nearby.
- Make sure you have something to write on and a pen/pencil.
- Ask yourself how you are doing. Try to be honest with yourself about whatever you might be feeling. These are complex, unusual times, and we’re all bound to be feeling a great many things. It can be really difficult when struggling with challenging circumstances, but see if you can identify more reasons to be thankful than to be sad or frustrated.
- Think about what you are grateful for. Try not to worry about how big or small that thing may seem in the moment. If you’re grateful it exists, it matters.
- List at least 10 things you are grateful for. If you prefer, you can try to come up with something for every letter of the alphabet. (Need inspiration? See here for an old example of mine.)
There are so many different ways to be kind to yourself and others, and often it only takes a moment.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, with its always pertinent theme of ‘Kindness,’ I’m reminded of a moving scene from a couple of weeks back. While waiting in the socially-distanced queue at a local shop, the woman in front of me spotted a homeless gentleman quietly tucked away behind the shopping carts. She smiled, asking if she could get him anything to eat. He politely asked for a sandwich, thanking her profusely.
That act of kindness was beautiful in and of itself, but it went on to inspire a chain reaction of compassionate giving and community spirit. Before long most everyone in the queue had brought the man in need something to eat or drink, and his smile continued to grow – as did the smiles of those who had helped him that day.
It’s really nice to do kind things simply because, but doing kind things can also confer positive health benefits as well. Acts of kindness and helping others have been linked to greater feelings of well-being, increased self-esteem, and a more optimistic outlook – among other things! For even more on the potentially wide-reaching health benefits of kindness, I highly recommend checking out the Mental Health Foundation‘s guide all about how ‘Kindness Matters.’
Before you go…
With all this in mind, let’s work together to create a ‘Kindness Thread’ to bring delight to and inspire others.
To take part, simply take a moment to share a recent or fondly-remembered act of kindness you’ve witnessed or heard of in the comments section below. Everyone is welcome – and whatever act of kindness you share can be anything, of any shape or size. Every kindness matters!
Thank you so much for sharing!
Did you know that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK?
Taking place each year during the month of May, this year’s week of mental health-centred awareness raising, de-stigmatization, fundraising, and resource sharing is happening right now between Monday the 18th and Sunday the 24th.
Every year, the campaign is guided in part by a unique theme, with the theme for 2020 being: ‘Kindness.’
Why kindness? The Mental Health Foundation, the charity behind this annual campaign, explains their lovely choice like so.
“We have chosen kindness because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.”
I couldn’t agree more.
As regular readers of this site will know well, kindness in all its shapes and sizes is something I like to highlight and celebrate as often as possible here on Cathedral Grove.
And while kindness – both the giving and receiving of it – has been essential to maintaining good mental health throughout history, I think you’ll no doubt agree that it’s especially important and impactful right now during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
I hope you’ll join me as throughout this week I share a variety of advice, ideas, and resources to help you both support others experiencing some form of mental distress and nurture your own good mental health and total well-being.
In the meantime, why not check out these popular posts from the archives? I hope you’ll find some of the suggestions within to be of help to you or others.
- A Brief Introduction to Mindful Eating
- A Brief Introduction to Mindful Walking
- Mindful Moments: 3 Small Challenges to Help You Practice Being in the Present
- 10 Simple, Easy Self-Care Suggestions for Mental and Physical Wellness
- 6 Small Acts of Self-Care to Try in This New Year
I’ll simply sign off now by wishing you all a very happy, healthy week ahead, with my best. Take care!
Friends, I am tired. And if your sleep patterns have been anything like mine during these strange times, then you’re likely a bit tired too.
But that ends tonight.
You see, I know exactly what I should be doing to get a good night’s sleep every night but – I admit it! – I have from time to time during my furlough been letting some aspects of my own self-care slide by unnecessarily prioritising productivity over rest. But giving our minds and bodies permission to rest can be just as important – sometimes even more important! – than getting stuff done. Without regular restorative rest, our healthy functioning will eventually suffer and deteriorate.
So, let this next bit serve as a reminder to you and me alike of the many powerful gifts of rest, and also as a gentle nudge toward better, more sustained self-care. Without further ado, here are my 5 tips to help us all sleep better starting tonight.
Recently, I shared with you all a bit of an introduction to mindful walking (which, if you missed it, you can find here) and mentioned furthermore that in honor of and inspired by World Mental Health Day I’d be posting more in a brief series on the topic of maintaining good mental health throughout the rest of October.
We sit precariously on the edge of that particularly festive – and feast-ive! – time of year between Halloween and New Year’s Eve when, what with all the holidays in relatively quick succession and the potential for many a food-stuffed gorge-fest with family, friends, and co-workers, it is all too easy to slip into bad habits such as eating until we’re well past full, eating whenever we feel a bit down, or eating whilst trying to multitask. It’s an ideal time to start thinking about how we can each best develop a more mindful way of eating, a way that will leave us both nutritionally but also spiritually satisfied.
Here now are a few friendly suggestions to help you – and me too! – as you try to bring more awareness to your everyday eating.
Each year, October 10th marks World Mental Health Day – a day with the objective of raising international awareness about issues pertaining to mental health. While this year’s awareness day may have now come and gone, it is never the wrong time to discuss mental health. With this in mind, I’ve scheduled a few related posts to pop up over the remainder of October, each looking at ways we can make small but significant improvements to our own mental – and ultimately physical – health in our daily lives.
This week, I’d like to start off this short series by focusing on the art of mindful walking.
It’s been a bit over a week now since the start of the new year, which means a return to work for many. For a lot of folks being back on the job might also mean a return to feeling tired and stressed out, which means it’s a good time for a friendly reminder about the importance of self-care.
Self-care can take many forms, as what each individual needs in any given moment will of course vary. Here are just a handful of simple, easy things to help make life that little bit better if you find yourself feeling stretched to your limits this week or in the future.
It’s the start of a new year and for many people that means the making (and maybe breaking…) of new year’s resolutions. While I don’t make resolutions myself, ticking over into a new year does make me more mindful of my tendencies and habits. It’s important to tweak or phase some things out from time to time, and maybe even to introduce a new practice or two for the benefit of your total well-being.
One thing that always seems to better my life at any given moment is spending time in nature, and it’s something I strive to do even more of. There are a TON of ways in which being in a natural setting for even a short amount of time can improve well-being. Many studies have been done showing nature’s ability to boost mood and self-esteem, inspire awe (which in turn fosters kindness and other prosocial behaviors), improve creative reasoning, and reduce stress.
With all this in mind, here are seven suggestions for anyone resolving to get their nature fix in this new year.
Although Thanksgiving has come and gone this year, any time can be a great time to practice giving thanks for the many positive things and loving people we have in our lives.
Making an A-Z of Gratitude is a simple but effective way to pause, appreciate, and give thanks. Here, I’ve done a bit of brainstorming and put together my very own A-Z of Gratitude. I’ve shared it with you all below, with the hope that you too might be moved to make your very own list as well.
If you do feel inspired to give this quick but impactful gratitude exercize a try, feel free to share some of what you’re thankful for in the comments below!
Winter is definitely coming (…or perhaps it’s already here, depending on where you live in the world…), which means it’s time to start preparing for darker days and colder temperatures. But fear not, seekers of light and coziness! Winter can still be a time of well-being and contentment, so long as you do your best to shut out the seasonal blues.
Here are a few suggestions and friendly reminders that will hopefully help you feel merry and bright throughout the coming months.
Read on for more…
In honor of World Mental Health Day today, here are a few simple mindfulness practices you can try if you have less than 30 minutes to spare. Try one or all of these mindful moments challenges during a break at work or once you come home – it’s up to you.
What is mindfulness, you might ask? For me, mindfulness is when I am aware of the present moment. I am gently focused on what I am feeling and sensing in the moment, without passing any judgment on those things as best I can. I am not overwhelmed by what is going on around me, and I neither dwell on the past nor try to anticipate the future. I say ‘I’ in all of this but – truth be told – my wandering, imaginative mind often finds it a bit of a challenge to achieve this state of being! But that’s OK – it just takes practice.
Anyway, without further ado, here are 3 little opportunities to practice a bit of mindfulness in our every day lives. Read More
It’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th, so all week I’ll be posting tips, resources, and challenges related to boosting well-being. To begin with, here are 10 simple, easy self-care suggestions that also happen to be budget-friendly. When we’re not busy at work or with other obligations many of these things are quite obvious and instinctual, but sadly we often need reminding of them when stretched thin by stress.
Read on for more… Read More