As we approach Mental Health Awareness Week, Seed Co-Founder & Yoga Teacher, Kate Kirrane, explores why ‘kindness is key’ and explains why the topic of mental health needs our attention now, more than ever before:
Last week, as I waited in a socially distanced queue outside the supermarket, it started to rain. One of the staff noticed we were getting wet and appeared with some umbrellas, carefully disinfecting the handles as he handed them out with a smile. To my surprise, my eyes started to well up. At a time when I felt alone, I suddenly felt connected.
With Mental Health Awareness Week coming up next week, appropriately, its theme this year is “kindness”. As its founder, Mark Rowland said, “If I asked you the last time you gave or experienced kindness, you would tell me many stories of when you have felt moved, protected, held, seen, loved.”
As we prepare to move into Week 9 of lockdown, this important week of awareness is dedicated to shining a light on mental health. And with up to one quarter of the UK population already suffering from poor mental health such as anxiety and depression prior to the pandemic, this has not come a day too soon.
I know I am far from alone on the rollercoaster ride of changing emotions and daily struggles. Yet, as one poem doing the rounds aptly put it, while we are all weathering the same storm, the reality is that we are all in very different boats.
While some of us have had more positive experiences from being locked down such as spending time with family and enjoying a slower pace, others have experienced its full ferocity of losing loved ones in the most difficult of circumstances, and witnessing their hard-earned businesses and jobs struggle to stay afloat.
Emotions such as anxiety, depression, fear, guilt, powerlessness, loneliness and more, continue to feature for many of us, adults and children alike, as we worry about our health, our livelihoods and our loved ones while we await a decisive step forward.
Yet, what we have all experienced, possibly for the first time in our lives, is that whatever we go through personally, our collective quest to help one another and applaud one another continues to connect us all, helping to carry us through the dark moments.
As the founder of Mental Health Week said, “Kindness unlocks our shared humanity, it’s key to strengthening our connections to others, developing community and deepening solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.”
This campaign also shines a light on how important it is to be kind to ourselves. The good news is there is a lot we can do to help protect and preserve our own mental health as well as that of our loved ones at this time, as we navigate our way to calmer waters.
TOP TIPS FROM OUR EXPERTS ON MAINTAINING / IMPROVING OUR MENTAL HEALTH
Managing Our Psychology
Our inner dialogue has a big role to play in how we see and interact with the world. The good news is we have the power to choose more positive language, according to Seed’s Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist, Deb Milligan.
“If you’re having anxious or negative thoughts, try imagining these are playing on your ‘inner radio station’. If what you’re listening is unhelpful you can choose to change channels and tune in to something better”, says Deb.
“For instance, start by asking yourself ‘what am I grateful for?’ Or ‘what’s good about today / my situation that I can pay more attention to’. This way, you can redirect your ‘inner radio station’ to listen instead to more helpful thoughts and increase feelings of positivity and happiness.”
Helen Evans, Seed’s counsellor, says, “Focus on those things we can control such as getting enough sleep, eating well, getting into the fresh air every day, finding ways to have fun both individually and as a family and laugh!
“It’s also important to view all situations through the lens of kindness and compassion rather than judgement and criticism. Kindness is key to how we’re feeling ourselves – it will stand us in much better stead for keeping our stress levels in check and we will be better parents, partners and friends as a result.
“For those who have lost loved ones through Covid19 or other reasons, aim to lighten the load of expectations you place on yourself and give yourself the space to heal. If that feels too painful, and it feels important to keep busy, then that’s fine too. We know ourselves the best so do what feels right for you.”
Children’s Mental Health
Jayne Lindsay from Calm Little Minds believes that as far as kids’ mental health goes, there are pros and cons to the pandemic.
Says Jayne, “While many parents are worried about the impact the virus is having on their children. I have seen anxiety actually decrease in some children I work with due to time out from racing against the clock and more time with family. It’s provided a rare opportunity for them to just ‘be’.
“The main down sides are the lack of social interaction and also the content they are being exposed to through our media. Children process things very differently to adults, and for them, hearing statistics or seeing images on the TV can cause such concern for them. As parents, it’s important to remember they absorb everything so take extra care regarding what they are being exposed to.”
Get More Sleep!
Surveys are showing that trouble sleeping is a common issue. “Sleep is a fundamental pillar of health” says Seed’s Naturopath, Emma Burwash. “We can eat and exercise well but without good quality sleep, our wellbeing is compromised. We need to:
Whatever exercise works for you, try to commit to some form of exercise every day, be it a walk, run or HIIT session. If your body is feeling the effects of high impact exercise, opt for a gentler option that will nourish you such as yoga, Pilates or Barre.
Pre / Post Natal Exercise
Pilates teacher, Alice Milner from Bucks Pilates, is also offering some great Pregnancy and Mum & Baby online classes.
Detox For Mind & Body
If, like so many of us, you are feeling the effects of excess, a detox will help boost your general state of mind as well as cleanse the internal system, reset bad habits, boost energy / vitality, sleep, skin and mental clarity.
The Yummy Juice Company are finding their home delivery juice business is thriving. Simply choose a 3, 5 or 7-day plan and the juices will be delivered straight to your door. Or if you wish to make your own, see some recipes here.
Nutrition & Mental Health
Research shows that there is a direct correlation between what you eat and how you feel. Says Seed’s Nutritional Therapist, Evie Whitehead, “Foods rich in tryptophan such as pumpkin seeds, dairy and poultry help us to make serotonin; our happy hormone, which helps us to have a stable mood and good night’s sleep. In fact, 80% of serotonin is made in the gut from the breakdown and assimilation of these foods and the balance of bacteria that lives inside our gut can affect our mood and behaviour”.
Evie is running an online workshop on the link between food and mood this Friday, 15th May at 10am. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Natural Essential Oils
As a society, we are used to popping pills to help us feel better. But there are so many amazing natural ingredients out there that have been used for centuries to aid our mental health.
Says Seed’s Women’s Health Practitioner, Adele Wimsett, “Oils offer a great natural way to support your emotional wellbeing. There are a few ways to effectively experience the potency and power of the oils including massaging onto the base of the skull; in a diffuser; applying a drop to the palms and inhaling; or rubbing onto wrists so you can carry the aroma with you all day.
Seed’s Medical Herbalist, Jesper Launder, recommends two herbs in particular for supporting mental health including Ashwaghanda and St John’s Wort.
Says Jesper, “Ashwaghanda can help to reduce stress and anxiety and improve sleep. People often describe feeling more resilient, mentally strong, and calmer.
“And St. John’s Wort can help alleviate mild to moderate depression, hence its tag, ‘Nature’s Prozac’. While it isn’t a substitute for drug medication or talking therapies, many users describe a significant boost in mental and emotional wellbeing “
Safety: Do not take these herbs if you are pregnant, taking pharmaceutical medication or if you suffer with sensitive skin without first consulting a herbalist or doctor.
As well as herbs, Jesper runs local foraging events. Says Jesper, “During the time we’ve been in lockdown, the woods, meadows and hedgerows have burst with lush green growth and flowers, a large number of which are tasty wild foods.
“Wild food ingredients include Nettles (seriously nourishing in soup, juiced, or cooked like spinach), Ground Elder, and Wild Garlic. A simple wild salad can be made using a mixture of young Linden Tree leaves, Hairy Bittercress (a common wild and delicious relative of Watercress), wild Corn Salad, and Dandelion flowers. Wild mushrooms such the gourmet Morel, St. George’s, and Chicken-of-the-Woods can also be found.
“Foraging for locally growing ingredients is a great reason to get out into the countryside and is fun for everyone, adults and children alike. With the help of an ID book or referring to online reference sources, you’ll be surprised how many plants you can identify. Feel free to contact me if you need some help!”
Meditation for Anxiety
Says Seed’s Mindset & Meditation Coach, Sarah Taylor, “Meditation helps to pull you back into the present moment, out of anxiety, uncertainty, depression and reconnect with yourself. Whether it’s 3 minutes or an hour, it will help bring you out of your headspace and into your heart space, helping to alleviate the negative chatter and instilling a state of mental balance. Just taking time to sit and find stillness will create positive shifts mentally, physically and emotionally.”
Sarah’s 20-minute Conscious Breathing Meditation is available here. https://soundcloud.com/user-757968080/conscious-belly-breathwork-meditation
Says Seed’s Hatha Yoga & Breathwork practitioner, Kirsten Orchard, “While we instinctively know that breath has the power to heal and calm us, we subconsciously hold our breath when things are uncomfortable. Conscious breath work means we can use the power of our breath to instil a deeper sense of wellbeing.
“Breathing consciously helps to balance our nervous systems, bringing us out of fight, flight, freeze and into a more restful state. Try these techniques as follows:
SO WHAT ONLINE HELP IS AVAILBLE FROM SEED RIGHT NOW?
If you feel you need support from a professional, many of our therapists and teachers are continuing to offer online consultations and classes. Please see as follows:
Online Exercise Classes
Online Consultations with our Therapists / Teachers
Remember, Kindness is Key 💜