To mark the campaign to end stigma around mental health, Director of Services Michelle Lloyd started a conversation with staff across Cyrenians to gather their tips on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing so that you can be at your best to support others.
At Cyrenians we pride ourselves in adopting relationship-based approaches to tackling the causes and consequences of homelessness. We talk a lot about the importance of relationships – with each other and with those we support. We know it takes time to build trust, it doesn’t happen overnight, it takes effort and every relationship is different. As staff, we also know that in order to support those who use our services it is vitally important to ensure we also look after own mental health and wellbeing.
On Thursday 1 February 2024 it’s Time to Talk Day, part of a campaign to end stigma and discrimination about mental health. Whilst we all have mental health, there is no one way to look after your mental health. On Time to Talk Day we’re encouraged to start a conversation about mental health with your colleagues, friends and family, to help create a more open and supportive environment where ‘it’s okay not to be okay’.
For this years’ Time to Talk Day, I started a conversation with some of my colleagues across Cyrenians asking how they look after their own mental health and wellbeing. Here’s what they said:
“My cat, Ted, plays a key part in my mental wellbeing. He’s big, fluffy and cuddly. If I’m feeling overwhelmed with work, I’ll go spend a few minutes with him, have a snuggle and listen to him purr and it always makes me feel calm. In the summer, I also started running on Corstorphine Hill. I’ve always hated running so it was just meant as an experiment in the beginning. I don’t run far and I’m not that fast either, but going on short 5k runs once or twice a week has been amazing – I’ll put on a playlist with bangers or listen to a podcast, and just enjoy the view and feeling more connected with my body. If I’m having a bad day it will almost certainly cheer me up.” Ursula
Githa’s shared her ‘top tips’:
- I find making a list of things to do and prioritising the items helpful, especially when I'm aware that I'm starting to feel overwhelmed just thinking of the many things swimming around in my head
- Daily or as regular as possible- 10 mins of exercise
- A few years ago, I spent a year working on self-compassion. I am now better at catching my internal self-critical voice, and able to be gentler with myself
- Asking for help, when I'm struggling.
- Stand-up comedy and increasing the laughter.
“Exercise and especially cycling is really important to me for looking after my own mental health. I find that after a busy/stressful day at work then jumping on my bike and cycling home is the perfect tonic….it just helps you clear your head and be in the moment and feel good getting all the endorphins going…although sometimes cycling up a steep hill doesn’t feel great at the time but I can assure the feeling of accomplishment afterwards is worth it 😊” Craig D
“For many years I didn’t consider my wellbeing a priority. I have always loved singing and sang in choirs at school. Two years ago, I heard of a new choir starting up and joined. Those two hours a week are incredibly cathartic and help me to de-stress.” Jenny G
" I have an amazing group of friends that are always at the end of the phone or who I go out for a coffee with and have a good blether. I would also say what keeps me well is having a good work/life balance.” Hannah
Stuart’s 3 top tips are:
- Friday nights with friends. Sharing a pint and consequently the ups and downs of life is hands down the best way of putting things into perspective. Your mates will soon tell you if you’re worrying about something or nothing.
- Taking our dog for a walk to a favourite spot. Getting some fresh air with my pooch has literally blown various mental cobwebs away, whatever the weather!
- And talking of weather, even if it’s raining, as Sir Billy Connolly says: “There’s no such thing as bad weather. Just get yoursel’ a decent jacket!”. Laughter is most definitely the best medicine and you don’t have to wait between 4 to 6 hours for another dose!!! 😊
“Having left a job in the past due to excessive stress, I am well aware how important it is to take care of my mental health. It was important to learn from that experience so it didn’t happen again. One of the most important things for me is having a supportive friend group. Having close friends who sometimes spot when I’m under stress and step in makes all the difference”. Lesley M
“Good mental health is a priority for me. I make the time in every day to spend time outside, fresh air and exercise is as important as having breakfast every day. I like to walk the dogs, run and cycle. I also take time to practice mindful breathing and recently have explored using hypnotherapy as a way to help with good mental health”. Julie H
“To help me relax I like to light a candle and do some yoga. When I need a complete reset I do some cold water swimming. When I want to connect with my emotions I like to sing. This year I have started writing a daily wellbeing journal to help me keep track of things that are important for my wellbeing”. Ellie
“To take care of my own mental health and wellbeing I like to run, I enjoy getting out in the fresh air with my headphones on listening to music and just clearing my head! Running has led to me becoming a volunteer jog leader at my local Jog Scotland Club, through this I have made many new friends and it’s so rewarding helping others on their running journey. Now I can’t make any excuses for not going out running!!” Lorna
“About 1.5 years ago, I initiated my personal therapy journey, and it has proven to be one of the most impactful acts of self-care I have ever undertaken. While it's not always easy and often presents challenges, both emotionally and financially, I have never regretted this decision. Recognizing the importance of prioritizing my mental health has been instrumental in creating a healthier and more balanced foundation for navigating the complexities of daily life”. Aga
“I look after my mental health and wellbeing in a variety of ways depending on the day and how I’m feeling. If the weather is nice I love going out for a run or a walk and listening to a podcast or audiobook, if the weather isn’t nice (or I just can’t be bothered exercising that day!) my favourite thing to do for myself is getting cosy on the couch with a good book, cup of tea and a nice candle – added bonus if my cat joins me!” Lois
And what about me? Well, I do enjoy yoga and I love pottering in the garden, even though I rarely know what I’m doing. But, as I approach a ‘big birthday’ later this year I realise how much I also appreciate the trusted relationships in my own life, especially with ‘old’ friends, some of whom now live overseas. We may not see each other for years but as soon as we get together we just pick up the conversation as if it had been yesterday.
Thank you to everyone for joining the conversation.