Hi! It’s Katie writing this – I’m a final year Business Management student with Liverpool Hope University. I’ve been doing some research into how amazing the First Person Project is, their aims and objectives, various community related work, and how crucial they will be in playing a part for pushing positive mental health change in the coming years. I’ve had the good fortune to meet (virtually, of course!) with both Matty and Johnathan, and I truly admire their passion, enthusiasm, and optimism towards helping communities improve their mental health actions and ideals; meanwhile building powerful links to help accelerate great change in the country.
Since this is my first time writing a blog, I thought I’d write about positivity and self-care, particularly giving real life advice and actions that we can all do to help ourselves a little more. Of course, during COVID and lock-downs, looking after our mental, emotional, and physical health is important; but for me it has always been important to make small changes to how I take care of myself and my mindset.
I look at self-care and positivity as an evolving idea – I think a lot of people find something that they “think they should be doing” to look after themselves; and stick with that until it makes them hate it unfortunately. I love to look at self-care practices and positivity as ever changing, meaning that I can actively seek out new opportunities and new ways of looking after myself, and it’s always exciting! With this approach, good mental health practices are a huge part of my journey as I love finding new things that I can do to help myself and, therefore, help others.
I’m going to share some of the things that I’ve found super helpful when looking after my mental and emotional health, and some “real life” advice/actions for people who want to get started on their self-care journey in the hope that it’s useful!
For me, being positive and having a healthy attitude towards positivity is to find things that really excite me. Things that I absolutely love to do, and look forward to doing regularly. One of the best parts of this is discovering new things, trying everything, and looking for amazing opportunities all over the place to see what excites me and will be a positive impact on my health. So, if I can offer any advice – go looking for things that excite you! Things that light up your soul and make you smile, relax, and enjoy! That feeling of happiness will follow you for the rest of your day/week, and have an amazing impact on you and everyone around you. Radiate positivity and it will shine back brighter!
Recently, one of the things I’ve taken the most joy in is embroidery. I love having headspace to sit and relax, knowing that I’m making something beautiful (albeit sometimes messy!). I’m learning as I go, having only picked up embroidery less than a month ago - it’s a brand new discovery that I absolutely love doing. I didn’t really have a reason for picking it up – honestly, I just wanted to try something new and a lot of people I know have enjoyed it so why not! Small activities like this really help me to stay positive, as it brings me a lot of genuine happiness and that feeling of “being productive” for the rest of my day - and when you smile, the world smiles back 😊
During the COVID lock-downs, a lot of us are spending an increased amount of time on social media. I know that I’ve been spending sometimes hours just scrolling through socials. Limiting screen time is important for many reasons; but I think it’s equally important to really change our newsfeeds into ones that radiate positivity. Because, let’s face it, if we’re going to spend all that time on social media anyway, it may as well be positive. This is one of the small changes I made keep happy over the lockdowns, and I absolutely love it. Here’s some of my favourite positivity pages on Instagram that hopefully you’ll follow too!:
Tucker Budzyn is the most adorable golden retriever! His owner, Courtney, is an advocate of great mental-health practices and this platform is not only full of a great little puppy, but is also full of positive vibes!
Tales of Eleanor is a page showcasing Eleanor, a small hedgehog doodle who radiates happiness! The page highlights common struggles and great ways to help yourself, all through the adventures of a brave little hedgehog.
FourTheCreatives is a student-led platform that spreads amazing creativity by showcasing fantastic artists of many different disciplines! They are advocates of all things creative, and having your own unique style.
Unapologetically Surviving is a platform full of mental health advice and help, showing small actions that you can do to help overcome your problems and keep positive.
Contacting people is also vital to me keeping positive. Simply texting a friend or family member, emailing a work colleague or university tutor, or even talking to a stranger can increase my mood drastically. We are all, by nature, social beings, and having that contact with someone – knowing that another person is on the other end of the phone taking time to talk to you – is a great feeling. Maybe reach out to someone who you haven’t spoken to in a while, or talk to someone new on a Facebook Group. Or get a Zoom meeting with your friends and catch up.
Talking to people is not only a good way to keep positive, it’s also an important form of self-care. Reaching out to people, for a quick ‘hello’ or maybe something deeper, is important for self-care as it builds our relationships and helps us to ask for help in case we do need it.
During lockdown, there’s been a lot of cases where people in their local neighbourhoods have started chat groups to keep in contact and spirits high, and it’s a great example of communities coming together to get that much needed chat with others, for themselves and for the wider community.
I also wanted to include some realistic advice about self-care, as it’s not only important during COVID. These are tiny actions that you can do to improve your mood and make sure that you’re looking after yourself. They all work for various reasons, but really do help to boost your mood and get into the routine of good self-care practices:
Get dressed. Getting dressed in the morning, even if you’ve got nowhere to go, is a great way of boosting your mood. It makes you feel more productive and happier than sitting in 3-day-old pyjamas. On that note, put your shoes on too. Putting your shoes on triggers a “productivity” response, as our brain associates shoes with going out, therefore you’re more likely to be productive if you’re fully dressed!
Shower. Taking a shower in the morning is a great form of self-care, as you can use the time to clear your head and prepare for the day ahead. If you’re feeling under the weather, washing your face and brushing your hair also have the same effect with minimum effort – small actions have a big impact on our mental health.
Drink water! Drinking a glass of water when we first wake up, then periodically throughout the day, may sound really simple but actually goes a long way towards looking after yourself. Your body needs water, and during lockdown it’s especially important to look after our physical health as well as our mental health; so this small act of self-care is really important to overall well-being!
Get out of bed. I know during lockdown it can be really difficult to get out of bed – but trust me, it’s so good for you! Getting up at a reasonable time (not 3pm!), and going to sit at a desk or on a sofa is a great way to boost your mood. I always feel so much more productive when I’m sat at a desk rather than trying to do university work from bed, so it’s a great way that I look after myself with a small action embedded into my routine.
Be happy - you deserve it!
Do what makes you happy! Have a look at your day-to-day routine and really think about the things that make you happy. Is it cooking yourself a meal, cleaning your space, doing some research for work? Evaluate the way you feel whilst doing different tasks, and make sure you do more of them! Evaluation of the way we feel whilst doing things is what helps us to understand what we enjoy, and what small actions we should be doing to look after ourselves. Like I said before, self-care should be an evolving concept and if something isn’t working for you, change it!
Reach out - ask for help
Finally, please ask for help if you need it! It’s so important to make sure that you’re asking for help, even if you think it’s for a really silly reason. Just having that support in place for yourself, and the mindset that you’re allowed to ask for help, is so vitally important to both positivity and self-care! Allowing yourself to make decisions and understanding that you can ask for help if you need it is vital. Take actions, make decisions, and know that it’s okay to not be okay if those things don’t go the way you planned. You can always ask for help in your journey!
Thank you for reading
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