Mental Health Matters: Nic Goddard

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It feels as though we have lurched from one crisis to another for the last two years.

Just as we get tentative good news about the pandemic, we are faced with rising costs of living and war in Europe.

When good news seems in short supply, our mental wellbeing can feel in peril but not something we have time to prioritise.

But wait. Remember those safety announcements on aeroplanes and ferries about making sure you fit your own life jacket first? Heard that saying about it not being possible to pour from an empty cup? If ever there was a time to check in with yourself about how you are doing it is now.

In these uncertain times when everyone who is able feels mobilised to help others, it is essential we first make sure we are okay.

When everywhere we turn feels filled with bad news and hopelessness it is imperative to remind ourselves of hope, good news and positivity, no matter how difficult that can feel.

An excellent starting point is the Five Ways to Wellbeing which can help in grounding us, giving us focus and stopping that spiral of despair.

Connect – talking to others is a key way to make sure we look after our own wellbeing. Give an honest answer to the ‘how are you?’ question rather than the usual ‘I’m fine’. You may find you are not alone in struggling. You may find a listening ear. You may be the person to provide that listening ear to someone else.

Be active – Getting up and out is good for our wellbeing. Whether that is connecting with nature, getting some exercise or simply a change of scenery. Physical activity of any sort boosts our feel-good hormones, gets our blood pumping and reminds us that we are physical as well as mental beings. From a walk around the garden, to a climb up a mountain or swim in the loch, finding something which gives us a bit of a challenge is great. As spring finally arrives, it is a great time to get outdoors and if you are feeling able to really push yourself, a charity fundraising physical challenge may be a great way of making a difference in these uncertain times when so many people need help.

Take notice – It is easy to ignore or write off the benefits of connecting with the world around you, particularly when it feels bleak. However, hope springs eternal and positivity, goodwill and compassion are to be found too. Find something to celebrate and take heart from every day – longer daylight, a glorious sunrise or sunset, spring flowers blooming or a good news story on the TV.

Learn – There is a real risk of overexposure to the news. From 24 hour news channels on TV to endless social media updates, our ability to be connected to stories around the world in real time is an example of both the wonders and downfalls of technology. If you are finding the constant overload of information overwhelming, limit your exposure. Make a conscious choice to watch just one news show or limit your social media scrolling. Choose to research the issues you want to fully understand. Being educated and informed about what is happening in the world around you is a good thing, just make sure you are not swamped with too much information and left feeling helpless and disempowered.

Give – Remember we are all part of the human race. We are all connected as part of the global community. If you can offer help and support, doing so can make a difference. As well as giving practical or financial support to others, you are also helping yourself to make sense world events and your place within them. If you need support, do not be afraid to ask for it. If current world events have shown us anything, it is that we never know when we may be the ones who need a helping hand. It is in joining hands that we create a bond which helps us all.

Photograph (July 2019): NO F30 Nic Goddard byline pic