World Mental Health Day – How are you making time for self-care?

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, I believe this shouldn’t be restricted to one day, but more importantly, now more than ever, everyday should be World Mental Health Day.

I first saw the clip below when Career Industry Council Australia (CICA) shared this on LinkedIn yesterday, and it really resonated with me. Today it has been 200 days since I started working from home, and in that time, I have only seen 12 people face to face (2 of these a couple of times) for more than 15 minutes at a time. I know I’m not alone experiencing isolation, and globally, everyone’s life has been impacted in some way by COVID-19.

Here are some ideas supporting mental health from the clip:

  • Try new things
  • Find something that makes your heart sing
  • Make time for physical activity

These are helpful sounding tips, but are they really that easy to do during isolation?

Personally, for me, I have by necessity as a result of certain situations, been focusing a lot on work lately, and not making time for myself. Something a good friend noticed back towards the end of June, and helped me come to realise this. I truly have appreciated their support during these turbulent times, and although they have recently relocated to another part of Australia for work, I know that their friendship and support will always be there.

World Mental Health Day, helped me to refocus on making time for myself, and reminded me that ‘Self-care is not selfish, it is essential’ as I know my health has been suffering lately. Below is how I made time yesterday to incorporate these tips into my day.  Little things, that weren’t difficult to do, but have made such a huge difference on recharging my batteries. It’s funny how often when asked ‘what did you do today’ I have answered ‘oh the usual’ or ‘not much’ during lockdown.  This list has made me realised; I most likely do more during a day to look after my wellbeing, but not realised it as I allowed work and other issues take centre stage.

Trying New Things

Comedy – A friend introduced me on Friday evening to the comedic work of Hape Kerkeling – A German actor/comedian. I’m so glad that they did. Not only are they helping to broaden my appreciation of German culture, but also this bought a smile to my face.

No, that’s not right. What I experienced, was that deep belly laughing kind of enjoyment, when you are having so much fun, which I sorely needed. I’m really looking forward to watching more of Hape Kerkeling’s work. Another benefit was because my German skills aren’t great, I really had to concentrate on listening to what was being said, and as such, I was focused purely on the present and any other thoughts were not impacting on this experience.

My friend also was told me about Hape’s book – ‘Ich bin dann mal weg’ (I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago) which they have kindly offered to lend me when we are able to meet up again for coffee when restrictions are relaxed. 

I’m really looking forward to reading his book. A quick search on forums about ‘I’m off Then’ identify some of the lessons that come out of Hape’s documented travels from the base of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela are:

  1. Take a break
  2. Lose yourself in nature’s picturesque views
  3. Do a good deed for someone else
  4. Find inner peace by writing things down
  5. Just as you are about to give up, remember why you wanted to do this in the first place.
  6. Laugh with friends

I believe all of these ‘lessons’ help to support a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Find Something That Makes Your Heart Sing

Cooking  –  I love cooking, and over the years have collected recipes on my travels. I tried wherever possible to collect recipes from new countries or regions that I explored.  Yesterday I made Krabben-Spargel Salat (Prawn and asparagus salad) accompanied with a glass of Henkell, which I first experienced in Germany.

I love this simple but delicious salad with the prawns marinated in a squeeze of lemon straight from the tree in my backyard.. dressing is made from sweet paprika, dill, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of brandy.Who says meals for one need be boring. Guten appetite

I have spent some time just now, looking through recipes from Switzerland, Sicily, UK and Germany, and am planning which of these to make over the next month. All simple ones, that use nutritious wholesome ingredients.

Chatting with friends – Since I wasn’t working yesterday, I spent late Friday evening / Saturday morning catching up with friends who are based overseas. It was great to see and hear how they are getting on, and much laughter was had swapping stories. It was definitely worth the effort to stay up and catch up with them.

Sharing Experiences with Others – At the start of lockdown in March, I was challenge to a 7-day photo challenge on Facebook, where I had to post a photo each day, and people tried to guess where it was taken. Some of my relatives really enjoyed this, especially reading my stories that related to each of the photos after the challenge was finished, and asked me to keep sharing these. I must admit, I had planned to, but forgot about it as we had to rapidly shift to remote working. Lately, other people have been asking about my travels, and when I started chatting about for example where I had explored in Germany and the UK, I came to realise that I have people are genuinely interested in hearing about these.

Managed to get a Barbeque Boat stranded in Woy Woy Bay on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia

I’ve decided to listen to their requests and share these as a simple blog I will put together which will also include some recipes etc for the different regions. This will be a good excuse for me to finally make my way through sorting and tidying up my photos and memory box.

Passion for Career Development – I enjoyed unexpectedly connecting with another person yesterday in the UK who has experience supporting people experiencing military transitions, which is one of my passions for being a Career Development Practitioner. A few weeks ago, when swamped by work and feeling completely run down, I felt as though I was ‘over’ my post graduate studies. This week through various chats with a former colleague and dear friend, I was reminded about why this so strongly makes my heart sing. Connecting yesterday through LinkedIn with other person who shares this passion, has helped me to refocus.

I changed my LinkedIn profile on Friday as a reminder for myself, that although lockdown has been exhausting physically and mentally at times, I am putting hope for my future into action through my postgraduate studies. The photo isn’t the best ‘professional’ shot nor the most flattering, but it was taken around the time that I was just beginning my studies and Lockdown 2.0 was just being introduced into Melbourne. So, although the thought of 6 weeks of restrictions (how wrong they were on that timeframe) was disappointing, I felt I had the tools to sustain my wellbeing during this period. I still have the tools and strategies, to get through however long restrictions will continue, I had just put them aside briefly.

Make Time for Physical Activity

Alternate Walking Routes – Being allowed to a confined to 5km radius from home since July, I had started to become a bit bored with saying the same sites whilst out for my daily bike ride or walk. To combat this, I started alternating my route in a clockwise/anti-clockwise direction. Now after some inspiration of images on the net of people ‘drawing’ pictures on maps through tracking their exercise routes, I’m trying to get creative and see what ‘pictures’ I can come up with.

Pottering in the Garden –  Being spring time in Melbourne, I spent time pottering in the garden, tidying weeds, and generally just letting the world go by.

Dancing in the Kitchen – Of course no day would be complete without some embarrassing ‘kitchen dancing’. Luckily there is no one around to see this, but what a fun way to get some incidental exercise in, and boosting my mood all in one go.

Photo by on

I’m grateful that through my postgraduate studies, I am becoming more immersed with ‘Hope Action Theory’, ‘Planned Happenstance’ & ‘Chaos’ theories of career development. All of which are beneficial not only for clients, but also my own personal wellbeing and career plans during these turbulent times. Hang in there Melbourne, despite it no longer looking promising that restrictions will ease as much in Melbourne on 19 October, as earlier hoped;

  • Try new things
  • Find something that makes your heart sing
  • Make time for physical activity

The three tips can help us to get through these times of continued lockdown and restrictions.

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