World Mental Health Day - Notes from Roffey Park Staff. 1

World Mental Health Day – what we do to keep our mental balance.

Roffey Park 9th October 2020

October 10th is World Mental Health Day.  This annual event allows us to stop and think about our, and others, mental well-being at home and at work.  2020 has seen individuals challenged on a global scale for the first time in generations. Many of us have had to take stock and look at how to maintain positivity, process the changes happening around us whilst trying to move forward each day, also looking to the future. For some this has meant finding new structures and for others realising the routines they already held continue to sustain them. 

This year we asked our own Roffey Park staff for their day to day “rituals” and some of the wider actions they do to help keep their own mental balance.  Despite our organisations global reach, across Europe and Asia, many are similar. We hope you find them useful and a reminder that Mental Health is something that unites us all.

Natural Highs – Exercise and Outdoors

The benefits of connecting with the outdoors through exercise are long proven.  Recently many have discovered or rediscovered the virtues of nature and exercise.

“I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past and learnt that a combination of factors keeps me in good shape physically and that sorts my mental health.  For me it’s yoga, no coffee after midday, no alcohol on school nights, bed about 10.00 pm and a wheat free diet. I started jogging for the first-time during lock down and that’s made a huge difference to how I feel. It’s better than chocolate!” – Vanessa Williams

“I love being outside connecting with the natural world whatever the weather; anywhere in rough weather can be exhilarating! – Nikki Holmes

“Exercise – a run, a walk in the country, a bike ride or Joe Wicks on TV, something every day!” – Helen Surley . 

‘My go to place is outside. I have woods and mountains close by, so I regularly go for walks and sit by my favourite trees for a chat – yes, I talk to trees! When I’m at my desk most of the day just getting up and moving around helps. I am lucky that I have views into my garden and throughout the day I pop in and out of it. I can’t recommend Hot Yoga enough. Just one hour on the mat helps me to reconnect to my body. Also, I find that if I am worrying about something the best thing, I can do is share how I am feeling with a trusted friend or colleague. This immediately helps; friendly support and kind words. Equally, I try to be support to others in this way.’ – Claire Barraclough

“My tip is to take daily exercise and get those endorphins pumping through your system!” Angela Brewer- Miller:

“When I feel down, stressed or sad, two things really help boost my mental health. The first is going out into nature. Finding space away from walls and screens, a space to think and a space to breathe, calms my mind. The second is a good belly-laugh with friends, which despite the use of technology I have been able to do over the past few months. There is nothing like humour with friends to reduce tension and boost positive energy.” – Arlene Egan

“Exercise is key for me but I struggle with finding the time to do it.  My solution is to keep a rebounder near my desk (at home- might look a bit weird in the office) so that I can do a few minutes every now and then through the day” – Ken Ingram

Listening to Yourself – Focusing on the Here and Now

 Learning to calm the internal dialogue your mind creates is a challenge for many.  Elite athletes discipline themselves to focus their mind on the moment and their own energy and performance. Developing this in yourself can help quieten the everyday noise of life. 

“My top tip for mental health during lockdown has been to ensure that I restrict the amount of News I watch or listen to.  In the age of the 24 hours news cycle, there is a constant stream of exposure to largely negative stories on our TV or our mobile phone.  It can so easily skew our perspective of the world and we miss out on things that are positive and uplifting despite our current global circumstances.” – Mel Fairley

‘When things get on the top of me, I retreat back to the basics: when running I re-focus on my stride, when swimming I only think about my stroke and the only other thing I acknowledge is the sensation of the water. I think actively about my breathing and not much else, until I am ready for more.’ – Katarina Zajacova

“As someone who has suffered from depression, I have learned to listen to myself well. Accepting that not all problems can be, or need to be, solved is important. And, most of all, I live for the moments when I am climbing a mountain, the wind around me, the rope anchored, and all is well with the world!”  – Dr Robert Coles

Contemplation, reflection & mindfulness

“I’ve been working on my practice of regular meditation and journaling to clear my mind and set my day.   This year, I’ve also found focusing on my breathing, long walks or exercise and reaching out to family friends particularly helpful and just reminding myself to be grateful for what I have and be in the moment……oh! and dark chocolate has been a saviour!” –  Melinda Yon

“I escape the stresses and strains of this world by visiting imaginary ones.  I used to achieve this by reading escapist literature, but I now increasingly write my own.  Half an hour a day with a notebook and pen (no screens) and I just let the words and ideas flow.  One day it might all add up to a novel, but that’s not really the point.  It’s a way to free the imagination and, in doing so, sort things out at a distance: at least in my own head” – Angus Cameron:

“The thing that has helped me over the years is writing my feelings down in a diary/journal. This stops them bubbling around in my head (which can cause unnecessary stress.)” – Jennifer Catford

“I purchased a feelings print and I find being able to label the feeling and articulate it is helping me to work out what is going on under the surface and how my feelings are bleeding over into what were normally separate pieces of my life  – it is called context collapse and understanding it allows me to reframe and put into perspective” – Jackie Brown

“You never know what someone else is going through, but you can always be kind. Make time – It’s just needs to start with you.” – Wei Ling Chua

 “I love to dance and sing and watching a great musical also helps me lose myself from everyday life”­ – Jan Potter

For further reading here are some of our other blogs about mental health.

Stigma and mental health in the workplace: ““Crazy”, “stupid”, “dangerous” are some of the words that Singaporean teenagers thought of when asked about mental illness. Read more

Resilience in Challenging Times: In times of crisis a resilient organisation can respond effectively to maintain a level of productivity and to keep staff well. Read more

Supporting your staff and organisation to create resilience. How do you support your staff and your organisation to create resilience in people and structures? Read more