It’s Mental Health Awareness Week this week, and the theme is ‘kindness’ this year which is especially important during these uncertain times.
Mental health is an important subject to me and one I take very seriously with my family, friends, and team. Mental health can play a big part in our lives, particularly in the last few months it’s been a massive roller-coaster of emotions for everyone, feeling anxious one day, happy the next and then scared the day after.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, and while the situation is undeniably difficult, the kindness our of communities has really been amazing with the fundraising heroics such as Captain Tom Moore, friendly neighbours checking in with the elderly, and friends and family calling up to check in on each other to make sure we are OK.
We spoke to our amazing PDC ambassadors about their own experiences with mental health and their tips for you…
Susan: “As the weeks have morphed into months, it is impossible to be ‘gung-ho’ and positive the whole time. I started off signing up for numerous ‘I’d like to do that’ online courses and exercise classes. Some I’ve still not started…
Sadly, I’ve been personally touched by COVID-19, losing a loved one, but I am not on the frontline. I am not facing fear, seeing suffering and dealing with death every day. I just need to stay at home. I am lucky.
But then about two weeks ago, my emotional side took over my rational one and I slipped into a bit of a low. I felt exhausted. Fatigued. Why bother to do anything?
I was dwelling on the daily death counts, lack of a clear way out, loss of jobs, time stolen away for both young and old. Seeing loneliness and fear all around. Concerned for all our futures.
So, how have I coped and what would be my advice? Limit time watching the news and scrolling through social media. Build structure into your day and make the weekends different. Exercise and go outside if you can. Accept that it’s ok to feel sad and mourn what we’ve lost. But always ask for help if you need it. We’re all in this together.
If you are not working, and/or home educating your children, you don’t need to achieve anything. Surviving is enough. Be kind to yourself. Pick up the phone and be kind to others.
If you are worried about the future, don’t be. It’s amazing how adaptable and resilient we are. Going out for my daily bike ride I now miss the car free roads! I hope we do not go back to how we were.
We have been gifted an opportunity to stop and listen, to review and reflect, and decide how we want to live our lives. We can change. And we can change very quickly.”
Nicole: "In this era of #bekind and especially at this time, it is essential that we not only take time for others but also for ourselves. During Mental Health Awareness Week why not take a moment to check in with a friend even the "strong" ones who seem to have it all together? Sometimes just a message or a call from someone can be enough to give that person the hope to keep going. Always show love, always give hope, always be kind."
Aleesha: “With 1 in 4 people suffering from mental ill health each year, it's very likely that you know someone who has struggled at some point. Whether they have been open with their issues or unfortunately felt like they had to keep it hidden. I myself have felt the feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, loneliness and many more as part of my mental health experiences. For me it was talking that helped the most, both to trained councillors and friends, whose kindness of just listening will never be forgotten.”
Beth: “As somebody who has suffered with severe mental health issues, I can look back on all the times of my life where I felt like giving up and be thankful I didn’t. I’ve learnt from every single heartbreak and mistake and grown as a better person. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them so wear the battle wounds with pride, give yourself a break, Rome wasn’t built in a day!!”
Danielle: “I think my biggest tip for taking care of ourselves is just talking about how you feel. As women we are expected to be the ones that hold it all together - kids, jobs, partners, managing the housework, cooking etc and sometimes it gets too much.
So, if you feel like this don’t be afraid to chat to someone, there is always someone willing to help and listen to you. Sometimes a good vent is all you need!”
Jordana: “It has been great to see over the last few years the stigma attached to mental health start to diminish. People of all ages, genders and races speaking out about their experiences and in the process saying lives. Personally, I have had my own battles with my mind. I am a mother of three and suffered with post-natal depression. Maternal mental health is something I am extremely passionate about as well as the mental health of children. Last year I was lucky enough to go up to London and visit the head office of the YoungMinds charity to see the incredible work they do and continue to do. In the future I would love to support new mums who may be suffering and help them see there is a light in all of the darkness.
One positive from lockdown is that I think it has taught everyone the importance of looking after our minds just as much as any other part of our bodies.
It all starts with a simple step. Be kind to yourself and to others. You never know what battles people are fighting mentally and most probably silently.”
Allie: “Mental health has always been a back and forth process for me over the years. However I’m starting to see my experiences with anxiety & depression as positives rather than negatives. They have shaped me into who I am today, and I love to consider myself stronger and more resilient because of them.
I have many ways in which I deal with those thoughts when they start to creep through, however my favourite thing to do is to switch off, disconnect & spend the time with myself that I need to. Allowing myself to accept my thought process and identify how I’m going to change those thoughts from negatives to positives is really important to me. I often find it’s best for me to do this alone, but when I’m feeling up to it, I will call one of my best friends for a heart to heart over some wine, and just chat out whatever is going on in my mind. I guess there isn’t really a right or wrong way to deal with mental health, it’s just a journey that everyone has to embark
on and find what works for them.
Mental Health Awareness week is so important to me, because it normalises the “stigma” surrounding these experiences. There shouldn’t be a stigma, everyone experiences these thoughts and feelings, and I love that there are platforms and movements out there allowing us to share our experiences and advice with one another. How beautiful is that!”
Sophia: "When my thoughts take control and get me down the best medicine for me is doing something outside. I go to the shops, go for a walk or do some exercise and turn the negative thoughts into clear and concise ones. A quote I love is ‘do something today that your future self will thank you for’."
Ana: "It’s impossible for me always to be happy and always be positive. I do have days when I hit lows, when I feel tired and emotional. Over the years I have discovered how to control my emotions and bounce back on the days where I feel down. I do this by occupying my mind with positive thoughts and keeping myself busy. My advice is when you feel hopeless, emotional or down is that you should get busy. This could be going for a run, cleaning your house or de-cluttering your cupboards for example. You should pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time. It’s important to reconnect with people who once made you happy and bring you good memories. Simply try to keep your mind busy at all times. This is how I survive the days when I feel low and emotional."
Personally my mental health has been helped knowing I have set up this company through adversity, I know deep down how strong I am, how very determined I am and how amazing these dresses are making other women feel!
I can’t thank everyone enough for the support they have given me and the Perfect Dress Company through this time, I can get quite emotional when I think about it! It’s all of you that are supporting small businesses, which is the true act of kindness.