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Tips for mental wellbeing.

This evening, I’ve mostly been chain-eating corn thins. (For the uninitiated, they’re like rice cakes, but with extra cardboard.) Well, it’s been a busy week, full of travelling – to exotic locations such as Newmarket, and Birmingham – so I felt the treat was deserved.

It’s the small things, isn’t it? I had a bath earlier too. With bubbles.

Now, this blog is primarily about the dullness of my life. However, on days like today, I’m reminded that there have been times when I have actually Experienced Exciting Things: the type of Exciting Things that come with side orders of Tropical Ulcer and Foot-Burrowing-Insect. When you look at it like that; dull, it transpires, has its merits.

Such is the essence of my blog. A lot never happens. Except for when it does.

The decider, it seems, as to whether or not a lot isn’t happening; is my perception. Much of the time I feel like an oxygen thief; a pointless person living out a pointless existence. Thankfully, when my mood lifts a bit, I start to feel that maybe I’m not All That Bad and that there are things in life that are super – like the silkiness of my cat’s fur.

I’ve been pondering the elements that have lifted my mood this week. And if, like me and billions of others, you also experiences times of low mood (which, I understand, is what we call Depression these days), you might find some inspiration in what follows…

Stuff that’s helped my mental wellbeing this week:

1. Taking charge, and protecting creatures
Supporting my sister to look after a geriatric, and pretty poorly, cat that adopted her. My sister looked to me as someone that could be assertive with the vet; ensuring the cat was given a treatment plan – rather than simply killed off ahead of her time. (Please note the “creature” in the title is the kitty, not the sister; creature yes, in need of protecting – most certainly not.)

2. Exercising learning muscles
By attending two Open University tutorials; one about social science and one about the art of Benin. A bonus boost came from an inspiring conversation with my tutor (yes, the very same one I was ranting about recently) about the possibilities of where my studies could lead. If I have a dream, then I have something to live for.

3. Being a figure of reassurance
Supporting the ambulance service. As you might have read in a previous entry; Community First Responders whiz out to local emergency calls – because we can often get there before the ambulance (who are always right behind us). We do attend some very serious calls, but many of the ones I go to are less serious, but the people are pretty scared – as you would be if you feared your heart was about to explode. It’s kinda nice to be a part of the Cavalry.

4. Inspiring people to examine all the Good Things
Running a workshop about creating “Welcoming Communities” – specifically, places where people with learning disabilities are missed when they’re absent. Wonderful stories were shared about times people have been made to feel welcome. These types of conversation (ie what’s it like when it works?) are much more healthy for one’s mood than the alternative; “share stories about what it’s like to be excluded”. Who wants to bring such unpleasant feelings to mind?

5. Teaching people how to turn problem-monsters into Amazing Realities
Don’t examine poverty, examine prosperity – in its widest sense – and then work to make that happen. This was part of my talk today (hence the trip to Birmingham). It always surprises me when the things I say are well received. I rewarded myself with corn thins.

To sum up, here are today’s Mental Wellbeing Top 5 Tips:

1. Use your strengths or skills to help someone out. And if you don’t know what those strengths are; have a think about them now. All living things have stuff they’re good at. Even goldfish. Who are quite good at Looking Shiny and Inciting Calm.

2. Do a learning thing. Read a book – especially on a subject that intrigues you but that you know little about. Visit a museum (the fantastic ones in London are free of charge) or an art gallery. Write what’s on your mind. Sign up to a course you’ve always fancied. Take up Salsa lessons.

3. Get into volunteering. It’s a fair bet your local hospital needs volunteers, or, if you prefer animals to people – go along to your local dog shelter and sign up for dog-cuddling duties. For sustainable “mental wellbeing” results, sign up for something you can do regularly.

4. Practice dwelling on the positive. Remind yourself of times where you succeeded, where you felt pleased with yourself, times you felt happy. Write down the stories so you can revisit them whenever you wish. Notice the small things; “what three things am I pleased about today?” And, if you are visited with low moods more often than you’d like, ask your GP about a course of CBT counselling – which is largely about training yourself to ditch unhelpful thinking and to be nicer to yourself.

5. Go for a walk. Well, 4 and 5 on my list are a bit similar. So I’m throwing this one in as an extra. It’s invariably a good thing to take a bit of air.

And there you go.

We’re all of us exceptional and irreplaceable, so what works for me might not work for you. Not everyone likes corn thins, after all.


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