Mental Health A(share)ness
Mental health awareness is not just a week long conversation, beyond which the issue gets forgotten... we need to shift it to become a central pillar of care for our global community.
When it comes to our mental health, a lot of us would rather delay that introspective work with the fear of what we might discover about ourselves. Others know fully well those aspects they'd prefer not to face, pushing them further back to the dark recesses of our minds where they ominously lurk. I sure do. In this hyperactive, digitally-immersed modern world, we seem to have created a monster in the shape of shame, doubt and fear. This gargantuan shadow often reigns over our positive states of mind and distorts our self worth and how we think others see us. With so much hatred, fear-mongering and humiliation often mirrored in mainstream media, there it's no wonder many of retreat into our metaphorical shells. But this of course is not the only source of negative energy that exists, and in fact the subject of mental health is a highly complex amalgamation of our individual past experiences. Experiences of social interactions, media exposures, dogmas, social norms, beliefs and institutionalised behaviours that have a combined impact on how we navigate life day by day.
We love and cherish our community, and at the heart of The Keep are ‘normal’ people battling internal (and perhaps external) problems every waking minute - it's a common thread that unites us all. But only by humbling ourselves to share the issues we’re dealing with are we better able to help someone make it through to the end of the day... and that, we think, is priceless.
So although we fully recognise mental health cannot be pigeon-holed or solved overnight, with no one path toward healing working for all, here’s an uplifting selection of resources that are making our week just that little bit brighter.
To Read: Breathe by Jean Hall
Breathing is essential to life, however most of us spend our lives breathing the wrong way and not harnessing it’s true power. In this brilliant breath bible, Hall teaches 20 breath work exercises to increase awareness, mindfulness and help you regain mental and physical focus. Breathing the right way has many benefits including lowering your blood pressure, promoting feelings of calm and relaxation and helping you to de-stress. To know what to do when experiencing heightened panic or anxiety, Breathe is there to help in covering the moving breath, mindful breathing and how to rebalance the breath with practical diagrams and Hall’s extensive knowledge from her background as a yoga practitioner.
“Written and designed with real love and care. Beautiful book, very accessible with lots of useful techniques that would be beneficial to everyone” - Amazon Review
Find at your local library or from hive.co.uk to support independent booksellers.
To Listen: Jen Gotch is OK... Sometimes
Jen Gotch is funny, inspiring and ultimately relatable in her efforts to heroically remind us that we are not alone, nor does anyone have ‘it’ all together. She shares weird and wonderful anecdotes as well as triumphs and serious lessons learnt while becoming more and more herself. With a bite-size, average listening time of 30-45 minutes, these episodes might spark joy (Marie Condo pun intended) on your morning commute juggling coffee and a horrible heap of anxiety.
“Listening to Jen talk about her struggles with mental health and well-being reminded me that I’m by no means alone in this battle. Her ability to share experience and the lessons she’s learned is invaluable. She is extremely relatable, and best of all, she provides good solid practical tips and reassurance.” - iTunes Review
Listen on Stitcher or through Apple Podcasts.
To Watch: Brené Brown, the Call to Courage
The Netflix bio for this documentary reads: “With humour and empathy, Brené Brown discusses what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty.” This is exactly what she manages, with all the grace and honesty you would expect. We loved her approach to these sensitive topics and would highly recommend for a well-earned evening boost. She provides lasting gentle reminders on how to believe in yourself given the climate of today.
Watch on Netflix and find more from the acclaimed bestseller at brenebrown.com.
To Do: Journalling
Journalling is much more than a “Dear Diary, this is what I did today…” kind of happening. This is the practical and physical way to off-load your deepest feelings and to open up a realm of discussion with oneself using a simple pad and pen. Anything goes; a rant about a co-worker you’re frustrated with or even how you can’t keep your houseplants alive. The great thing about this process is you can also do this anywhere, anytime, and write as many entries as you feel. Supposedly, the act of processing feelings via writing these things down ignites a part of left side of the brain that deals with rational and analytical things. Benefits include feeling less mental congestion, improved focus and even strengthened immune cells. *Sketches encouraged*
Fun and eco-conscious writing essentials available through The Completist.
To Follow: I WeighFormer Radio One host and actress Jameela Jamil’s new platform, I Weigh, advocates for body positivity, encouraging women to highlight what makes them amazing beyond their physical appearance. Introducing herself as proud of being finically stable, surrounded by great friends and is fulfilled by speaking out for women’s rights, she is joined by thousands of others exclaiming aspects of their self-worth. Familiar faces like Kristen Bell, Emmy Rossum, and Jonathan Van Ness are out in force to support. Expect creatives using reassuring messages through their art, involvement in like-minded events and general bolstering of shame-free living. We particularly enjoyed the third interview episode with the incomparable Rose McGowan where she openly discusses being labelled as a sex symbol, the MeToo movement and her new book Brave.
Follow I Weigh on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
For Support: Shout
Shout is a 24/7 text service providing professional support during a mental health crisis, aiming to take you from a tough moment to a calmer space in the time the individual needs. Crisis Text Line, the original tech company, was being used in all 295 area codes in the USA as of early 2019, and has exchanged 100 million messages with US texters in since then. Mental Health Innovations have successfully brought this service to the UK with recent support from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, donating £3m from their Royal Foundation which helped research and develop the system. Shout is available to all and you can be assured of complete confidentiality with clinical supervisors on hand.
Text SHOUT to 85258 from anywhere in the UK, 24 hours a day.
The truth is we may all in some way be thrown off balance at some point in our lives and sometimes all it takes is some healthy reassurance to keep on keeping on. You’ve reposted them all before and they're always painfully true but seriously, we want to leave with you some hopefully lasting affirmations that we live by:
You have not ‘failed’ for having your mental health challenged.
You are plenty and you do not need any validation from anyone.
You are doing your very best, and that yardstick you use for ‘best’, is yours and yours alone.