This Thursday is Mental Health Awareness Day, and I’m honoured to have been invited to run a series of workshops for local business Rothwell and Towler.
It’s a subject very close to my heart, and I’m hoping that in offering this, we can make a positive impact to at least one person’s life.
Over my years in the field of wellbeing, I’ve studied a lot. My bookshelf is filled with self-help, personal development, modern psychology, ancient wisdom, philosophy, witchcraft and everything in between.
It has only been, however, through first-hand experience, that I feel qualified to speak about this subject.
I’ve spent my life managing the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and I’ve found my own coping strategies, none of which involved any kind of lightbulb moment or major overhaul of my life.
Of course, when necessary I made big changes. I left a relationship that was toxic, I’d taken a sabbatical, I’d gone sober, and I’d even gone on a rather extreme colonic cleanse in my ongoing attempts to help me manage my emotional state.
All of these things helped, for a short while, but what made the biggest long-term impact was the small steps I took.
I started “walking the beach” every day. I put my feet in the sand, I felt the sun (or the rain in many cases) on my skin, and I walked. Sometimes for just 20 minutes, but it became a habit. It became my time for me, to create space in my head, to ground myself, and to immerse myself in nature where everything made a lot more sense than in the (un)real world.
It was taking small steps each day, and building that into a habit, that made a long-term impact. It was sustainable. Something I found that I enjoyed and that I wanted to do, rather than felt like I should.
I had a theme tune for when I set off. I created a playlist on my phone to listen to when I walked, and I walked until my head was clear.
It was just one little thing, the effects of which I didn’t see until I’d been doing it for a month, and the world became a lot lighter and brighter.
Feeling better, I gave myself another little project. I started writing Slivers of Light. Actually I started reading what I’d written and then worked on it, edited it, and put it into a format that meant it could be a tool for others who may be struggling.
Each chapter was designed to be a little glimmer of hope, not in an overly positive, pseudo happy-clappy way, but just small changes you could try taking to improve your state of mental wellbeing.
It’s the little things over a long period of time that make the difference.
“How do you eat an elephant?”, I often ask in workshops.
“One bite at a time”.
So today I’m aiming to help people find “Just One Little Thing”, not a bolt of lightening, just a jolt, a small step they can take towards feeling better, or at least seeing some hope.
Of course I’d always recommend seeking professional help. It’s been invaluable to me, and I think most people could benefit from it. What’s more, is there is no shame in asking for help or admitting you need it.
And if we all did that one little thing, watching out for each other, being kinder to one other, imagine the difference that would make.