We are now six weeks into the New Year, but what are you doing to look after your mental wellbeing in 2022?
Here Lichfield’s Mental Health Counsellor Sheila McMahon Reg. BACP, FSP, Comedienne and CEO of Mind Management for You, shares some expert tips on how to do just that:
‘Life is too serious to be taken seriously – besides no-one gets out alive anyway.’
This has been my lifetime motto that has served me well in my attitude towards not taking life too seriously all the time.
So, here we are, just six weeks into a brand-new year, where we get to choose our attitude and the many ways in which we can look after our mental wellbeing.
Here’s my top tips to do just that.
Meditation gives us time to just stop and be in the moment.
We don’t have to be busy-busy all the time and taking time out actually makes us more productive. So, I encourage you to take the one-minute challenge, taking a minute out to pause and just to be still.
If you’d like some virtual company while you try this technique out, then you can do it with me in my ‘Take the one-minute challenge’ video on ‘Sheila’s YouTube channel’.
Speaking of time,
‘Just been told that the clocks go back this month – I can’t remember where I got mine from!’
Shower of light
For those of us still working at home or, who have maybe decided to continue to work from home, it can be useful to have a technique to switch off from work life into home life.
Just before you walk out the door of your home-office – and I don’t mean No. 10, actually speaking about number 10:
Two old friends were talking one day. One said, “By the way did you hear Jimmy died at 72”, the other replies ‘Well I live at 71 and I heard nothing about it’
Anyhow… back to the shower of light… when you leave your office or the cupboard that’s your make-shift office, before you open the door, imagine there is a shower of light above your head, washing away the day.
When you step outside the door then give yourself a shake, like a dog naturally does, and shake away your working day. If your office is your living room or kitchen too, then do the same as you walk out the door and walk back in again visualising your home space again.
Be ok with not being ok
In November, I delivered some mental health workshops at the SEMH (Social, emotional and mental health) School Midlands Conference.
Some teachers who attended told me that when they had recently received bad news, they had put the news to one side so that they could be on ‘top form’ for their pupils.
But when I asked them: ‘If a pupil had some bad news, would you expect them to put that to the side and be on ‘top form’?’ And they said ‘no’.
So, you can be OK with not being OK. We need to take the pressure off and the expectation to be ‘on form’ all the time and then model this behaviour too.
Does your size define you?
A counsellor friend told me that some of her size 12 girlfriends will absolutely refuse to wear a size 14. But what messages are they telling themselves?
That if they were a different size, they would be ashamed of themselves? That they are no longer worthy people if they wear a different size?
Ask yourself, would you say that to a friend? So why do we say it to ourselves?
I came across a bracelet that is made up of different size tags – it highlights that as human beings most of us go up and down 3 sizes throughout our lives.
This is normal and we get to choose our attitude towards this.
When someone sees you, they don’t see a number on the inside of your outfit, they see you. If they judge you on your size then that judgment really is about them.
Please remember that you are a lovable and worthy person – regardless of any size number.
Having a laugh
It is important to find ways to have a laugh!
As someone who loves performing comedy, it is one of the best feelings in the world when an audience shares my sense of humour, and enjoys jokes like…
“Scientists have now confirmed that women who have put on weight during the Covid lockdowns live longer than men who mention it”
So, my tip is to create a laugh in everyday life.
Like the last time I was in the shop, there was a long queue. When I finally got to the counter the assistant said, “Sorry about your wait.” I replied, “I didn’t think I was that big.”
There was a pause, I smiled, and we both had a good laugh.
I have noticed that a lot of people have reflected on the friendships they had before the pandemic and, in retrospect, are unsure if they want to continue with them now.
For some friendships everything can seem fine and look fine until something happens – like the pandemic.
When people go through tough times it can highlight other sides of friendships that might be missing, that people now want more of. This could be understanding, not having to play happy friendships all the time and friends that can be emotionally available.
This can be very difficult if someone is not in a good place to begin with. If both friends are not in a good place, they can both feel resentful and feel let down by the other friend. It is so important that within our friendships we can openly communicate and talk about when things are not going right or don’t feel right.
Tough times will highlight if a friendship can handle the downside as well as the good. Some people are friends with someone just because they have known them for so long but might not actually have anything in common now – they may not even like each other! As we get older, we change, some friends change with us and some don’t, it’s nobody’s fault – it’s just different.
Sometimes we have to let friendships go for the sake of both people in the friendship.
There is a saying that some people find helpful. There are 3 types of friends –
‘Friends are there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’
There is also a saying that –
‘Your friends are the family you choose’
Keeping it real
Some people have loved not having to socialise over the last two years. This is about your life and whatever suits you. You can also manage other people expectations like what one business owner did by putting up a sign that reads…
‘Do not enter the office. Please respect my PERSONAL SPACE. Nothing to do with coronavirus – I am just a miserable b#@tard”
It is also about autonomy, to live and let live. To embrace difference and how people choose to live their lives.
Have more orgasms
Did you know that orgasms can have great benefits like boosting your immune system, lower anxiety, relieve stress, improve mood, and can help you sleep better?
Orgasming releases oxytocin, which reduces cortisol and oxytocin can reduce anxiety.
Whether you are in a relationship, or have a friend with benefits, where it’s all consenting and fun, or just want to have fun on your own, having an orgasm creates pleasure and that can create great benefits.
We can continue to be inspired by how people choose to use their time.
My mum, who turned 80 last year, has taken up piano lessons. Taking up learning a new skill is a brilliant way to increase confidence, brain power and add variety to your life.
I was inspired to face a real fear in the hope of inspiring others recently too.
After giving a talk to a Midland motorbike club, I agreed to take myself out of my comfort zone and learn to ride a motorbike – if the bikers would watch my free video on ‘How to help someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts’.
I really struggled with this challenge at first – as the idea of it triggered a road accident from years ago, where the driver put their foot on the accelerator instead of the break and the car somersaulted through the air.
I found the thought of learning to ride a motorbike very frightening and emotional as I had the fear that I would use the throttle in the wrong way and crash.
After doing some self-therapy on myself and embracing the ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’ I have completed 2 motorbike training sessions and I’m planning to take my CBT (Compulsive Bike Training) soon to become a fully-fledged biker – my partner has already bought me a new bike which has further spurred me on!
As a result of doing this, I’m delighted to reveal that there has been over 150 extra views. People have also been sending me messages to say: ‘I’ve watched it’. I feel proud of myself and others for getting out of our comfort zones.
If you want to watch the 10 minute video and boost my challenge then search ‘How can I help someone with suicidal thoughts’ on ‘Sheila’s YouTube channel’.
So, what’s in store for you for the rest of 2022?
So, the only thing left to say is what will you decide to do for the rest of 2022?
My partner had proudly declared that he achieves his New Year Resolution every year. And that’s that every year he decides he will have no new resolutions and he achieves it!
So, remember folks – each to their own and it is whatever suits you.
Regardless of what you decide to do or not to do, I wish you all great mental wellbeing in 2022.
Sheila McMahon, CEO of Mind Management For You
For more on Sheila’s mental health services, talks, training, therapy and her monthly workshops, please visit www.mindmanagementforyou.com