Being Mindful about Mental Health

Dan Strachan, Richmond Borough Mind, Mental Health
We all have mental health. And we all have a responsibility for the mental health of our loved ones. Despite growing awareness in, and days dedicated to, mental health is still clouded in mystery and stigma that results in 47% of people feeling uncomfortable talking about mental health issues like depression and anxiety at work (Mental Health at Work Report 2017 with YouGov). There is still much to do to remove the stigma that is associated with the subject of anxiety and depression, and to provide people with the tools and understanding that mental health is much like physical health; we have to maintain and sustain it to be happy, healthy and thriving.

At our HIIT+CHILL+CHAT mini-retreat on Saturday 20 October, our wellbeing theme was focused around mental health in acknowledgement of World Mental Health Day which took place on Wednesday 10 October.

With POINT3 Wellbeing’s mission to help people stress less and smile more, the team partnered with Richmond Borough Mind (RB Mind) for the event. Dan Strachan, a locum Mental Health Awareness trainer, was our guest speaker for the event. He candidly shared his story and journey of recovery; providing valuable insights and practices to help manage the effects of anxiety and depression.

Here Dan tells us a little more about the work of RB Mind charity and how he manages his mental and physical wellbeing.

“RB Mind is a wonderful organisation that goes above and beyond supporting those facing both short and long term mental health challenges.
“I got in touch with them a year and a half ago when my mental health was in a very severe state. It started with a simple phone call, ‘I need help’. RB Mind has an outstanding peer network that includes a range of support groups open to those with mental health difficulties run by volunteers with real lived experience of similar challenges. It was here my recovery began by involving myself with others who had a deeper level of understanding and valuable advice to improve my own wellbeing. As my confidence grew I opted to assist with running the groups and giving back to the organisation that assisted me in such a turbulent, uncertain time of my life. Today I am employed by RB Mind as a locum Mental Health Awareness trainer visiting local organisations educating staff on symptoms of poor mental health and routes to recovery.”

How do you look after your mental health?

“The most valuable tool is knowing myself and being clued up on all the signs and even subtle symptoms that my mental health is struggling, something many of us shrug off and ignore in such a fast paced demanding society. I have armed myself with an extensive toolbox that contains a range of tips, tricks and techniques to look after myself and practice proper self care and compassion.

“It contains a checklist that I call ‘DSE’; ‘Diet’, ‘Sleep’, and ‘Exercise’. These key areas take a back seat in times of stress and is critical to reestablish when it slips behind. When times are tough it is imperative to avoid isolation and speak out about all of your concerns and worries. A good friend will always be honoured that you trust them enough to reach out. ‘You cannot face depression, anxiety, and poor mental health alone’ – my golden rule for recovery.

“Finally, Mindfulness is the practice of an attitude that allows us to enjoy and experience all the qualities of life right now and in the moment. I have a collection of books, meditation CDs and mobile apps that can be utilised even in the most busiest time of our lives.”

And how do you look after your physical health?

“The mind and body are one. Look after your physical health; your mental health will improve and vice versa. Our bodies are built and designed to move and it rewards itself with stress busting chemicals known as endorphins, (endogenous morphine). Exercise is therefore one of the most potent antidepressants you could ask for.

“I lived a very sedentary lifestyle before I became unwell and needed to build myself up slowly, don’t try and run a marathon before you can walk again. I did just that. Walking. Even just 10-15 minutes a day in the park, to the shops, to meet a friend. The gym was a bit out of reach for me financially so I brought the gym to me. YouTube is an invaluable resource for home workouts tailored for individuals with a broad range of fitness levels. I now truly believe that ‘Energy creates Energy’ and getting moving is one of the best ways to pull yourself out of a bad funk.”

Any tips on wellbeing for our readers?

“No matter what life throws at you, it is important to remember that ‘TOGETHER, we can get through this one second, one minute, one day at a time’.

“When things get tough, slow down, take a breath, consider your options and talk it through with a loved one, a friend, a family member. Every day that goes by, the stigma surrounding mental health issues is being torn down piece by piece. There is zero shame in seeking professional help.
“If you are ever in doubt and believe you maybe struggling, it can be as simple as a phone call or a GP appointment. There is rarely a more rewarding feeling, looking back and telling yourself ‘I’m glad I reached out’. The help that is out there is powerful and life changing. Even for those who are mentally fit, maintenance requires consistency especially when it comes to self care and compassion.

“Overall the best tip for keeping up wellbeing is being empowered to know what to do when things go wrong.”

Future HIIT+CHILL+CHAT event dates have been published and can be found on our events pages. Movement is our theme in November and nutrition in January. To secure your place at one of these events click here.