During Mental Health Awareness week I will continue to blog about kindness and this is whether it is being kind to yourself and/or others.

I remember many years ago a client used to regularly say to his staff:-

It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice’

I guess being kind is part of being considered a ‘nice person’. Alongside my course work my reflective reading this week includes:

‘The language of kindness…A nurse’s story’ by Christine Watson. It is a beautiful book of her time as a nurse giving an insight to just what nurses do on an every day basis. There are many quotes I could offer but the following observation I  think says it all….and probably the same about all of us.

As we become physically stronger life makes us more emotionally fragile’

I think we call this growing up, evolving and coping with whatever life throws at us.

Be gentle with others but be gentle with yourselves, and if you are struggling let somebody know.

Remember the theory about swimmers in trouble…are you just waving or are you actually needing help?

Mental Health Awareness Week

It is Mental Health Awareness Week though I don’t think there has ever been so much mental health awareness than during the past weeks of lock-down. There are many people who appear to be taking everything in their stride and seem happy when the reality may be they are struggling ‘behind the painted smile’.

The best thing of course to come out of these unprecedented times is the fact that all forms of media are talking about mental health and well-being and offering advice and ways to keep positive.

If you know that a friend or family member is predisposed to feelings of anxiety or depression please do your best to support them and remind them of the various support agencies….and of course that it is good to talk and it’s OK not to feel OK.

My regular advice to friends and family is of course to not allow the negative news reports to consume you, best not to keep watching it… but focus on more positive things for the future, lose yourself in a good book, listen to some uplifting music or watch something funny. Laughter is best therapy and kindness is of course the best gift we can give along with our understanding rather than judging.


Be kind to yourself and be grateful

Today I listened to Olive Hickmott’s  positive talk on ‘Active in Redbourn’ which was just what our community needed. I first heard Olive speak some twenty years ago at a Women In Business Networking event and have continually been inspired by her work. My blog today (and indeed most days) echoes everything this amazing woman speaks of.

Suggesting keeping a diary to record things to be grateful for.  Olive – I couldn’t agree more.  I am a strong believer that writing is indeed therapeutic even if nobody else ever reads it. I have always been a great advocate for practising mindfulness and being grateful at the end of each day for what has been good about our day and what is good in our life… which we may have been taking for granted.

I  often remind friends, family and clients to be kinder to themselves and not to be so hard on themselves when tackling a difficult phase in their life. Having a positive outlook will always help us to get through the tough times and realising there are many things in life that we cannot change, but learning to accept, will help us adapt to our new situation.

Our lives during lock-down may, for many, have changed beyond recognition but perhaps given us the opportunity to reflect on what is really important, and, learn new skills and adopt more positive practices.

Trying to keep things in perspective, and, as hard it may seem, keep a sense of humour and learn to laugh more is sound advice. Have fun…we all remember having fun? As my own mentor always maintained laughter is a good tonic.

There is no doubt that being positive and doing things that make us and those around us happy certainly does help to keep us healthier in mind, body and spirit.

Considering the carers

In my village we are lucky there is a great community spirit with people doing all sorts of acts of kindness and offering practical help. We even have a newsletter that is growing week by week with advice to help those in need.

I was asked to contribute something about Dementia and this as my regular followers know is a subject dear to my heart.  So today’s blog I will include an exert because during these past challenging months it has been harder still for carers.

It has never been easier to access information which may just help you feel more comfortable spending time with a loved one or friend. As always, I recommend visiting the Alzheimer’s Society’s website where you will find literature and advice – all free. Their array and quality of literature (which can be posted out) is superb with great tools to help with positive engagement. Support line 0333 1503456

Remember: During the lockdown those caring for somebody with Dementia have had no respite. Day centres and hubs are closed, support workers and family members having to safe distance and not enter homes has left carers coping 24/7 and more often than not with continued disturbed sleep.  If you can find time to ring the carer just to let them know they are not forgotten it will really make a difference.

As my own mentor used to say the biggest gift we can give of ourselves is our time.

Looking forward

There has never been a more crucial time in most households to plan ‘loosely’ something to look forward to. We will resume normal life, but meanwhile we have to continue to be sensible. I hope I’m not the only ‘party pooper’ who feels that things may get dangerously lapse during the 75th VE day anniversary celebrations?

When we look at all the various TV documentaries being rolled out for VE day, and plan garden celebrations this Friday we must be mindful that the ‘enemy’ this time round is invisible and there is no warning unlike the sound the doodlebugs made when bombing parts of our great country. But I will be getting out a tea dress to wear as I raise a glass albeit safe distance…and I think a sing along seems inevitable.

I feel for the older generation who may be feeling very isolated and not having the choice or ability to have a zoom party or enjoy all the various jokes and video clips being circulated which really lift spirits.

For my own part I am reminding my elderly, clients, friends and families that we will do really nice things together and just holding that thought definitely helps…a little. There is no substitute for human interaction but keeping communication by whatever means is well received.

In our own village some of the younger children have been busy making cards for those that live alone and these have meant such a lot. There will be treats finding there way to these star families for certain.

Being grateful and feeling appreciated

The past few days I thought I would catch up on some reflective reading and picked up my copy of  ‘Love for Imperfect Things’ By Haemin Sumin. I have read several of his amazing books and often bought copies as gifts.

Never has his words of wisdom been more appropriate than now when many people have more time to reflect. I am therefore selecting two of his quotes for today’s post:-

A good job and money are important to our well-being, but when our relationships are harmonious, and we feel appreciated and accepted, that is when we feel most peaceful and content’

Recall one person whom you were grateful to recently. Send her a thank-you email or text message right now. While you write it, you will notice your heart feels warm and happy’ 

Feeling appreciated is often all we need from those we are close to and if we can feel grateful for what we have and what others do we are definitely happier and more contented. I think in the rush of modern day living too often we forget these two simple, though important aspects of relating to others.

Of course remembering just to be kind to ourselves…  as at the moment, self care is vital, and, just as important  as what we are doing to help and support others.

Take care and keep well.

Bereavement support

There is never a ‘good time’ or an ‘easy time’ to lose a loved one for whatever reason. However, we are now in such unprecedented times that for those having to organise a funeral and only being able to have a few relatives present it is unimaginably hard.

The past month or so I have spoken to several families going through the bereavement journey and I feel their pain, frustration and disappointment in not being able to honour their family with as they say ‘a good send off’ .  Many are planning to do things in the future – tree planting is always a good idea something permanent in their memory.

Speaking with a minister friend earlier today we both agreed that when things are gradually back to normal there will be such a lot of hugging going on… we both know from working with families how everyone is missing human contact. We also agreed the chocolate munching is keeping us going and how he would be busy with a lot of christenings in the future following an expected baby boom!

Seriously though, as ever, if you know anybody recently bereft please keep in contact just a quick call, saying ‘there are no words but just to let you know I am thinking of you’ means so very much.

Stay safe and be kind to one another.

Supporting students…of all ages

Continuing to support students is vital during these times when schools, colleges and universities are closed. Luckily with technology this is something that is easily achieved. However, what we mustn’t forget is the hard work which goes on in the background organising all the online activities and the tutors who are doing their best to continue to motivate and support their students…and of course some are more dedicated than others.

I can acknowledge the true value of support, as in my own unit, my daughter has appreciated tutors and her university going the extra mile. Additionally, for myself, as a mature student,  (taking my own continual professional development seriously) I am enhancing my own skills with distance learning courses from the BSY Group.

Over the years I have taken several of their courses and the support and quality of course material and assignments is second to none. Doesn’t matter how old we are, a) we are never to old to learn knew things and b) we all crave encouragement and acknowledgement when our efforts are recognised. I for one, look forward to receiving my assignments back and reading my tutor’s comments, hopefully favourable, and of course, taking heed of any advice to keep my study focus on track.

To all those in the education sector sincere thanks for keeping everything going during such a difficult time and that includes all the administration back-up staff as well as the tutors.

Keeping fit

I’ve always been good at getting out for little walks whenever possible and finally got one of these fit watches that record one’s steps alongside other various data. Yesterday I was a bit short of my target number but when I woke up in the middle of the night (after midnight and a new day of counting) I discovered I had managed 12 more steps?? So I am obviously dancing around in my sleep…every little helps.

Seriously though any exercise even chair exercises are great and as lovely as it is to watch all those box sets on TV we must move off the sofa or we will all have huge bottoms…but more worrying is the threat of poor circulation.

It’s good to learn when talking to various elderly folk that so many of them have taken to doing exercises in the morning rather than let their joints seize up. I told one of my old couples to put their cd player on and have a tea dance.

Keep well and keep active.

More time with loved ones

So we are all digesting the prospect of a further three weeks on lock down. The past two days since the announcement, which surely really came as no surprise to most, I have spent encouraging people to see this as a positive step…it’s keeping us safe.

It has however probably made a few people think about putting some structure into their day and/or tackling some long over due jobs, maybe some home decorating if you have the paint and inclination.

I found myself today having a spring clean in the kitchen, tidying cupboards..sounds impressive but really it was another case of being on the run from the ironing and other such wonderful chores.

Seriously, the news prompted me to  step up contact with my elderly folk and clients, yes, they have coped well the past weeks, but we want to keep their spirits up so please again may I remind you younger followers to ring your elderly relatives and neighbours. Not everyone is IT savvy and those that are have plenty of contact eh?

Keep safe, keep a structure to your day and keep communicating. Try not to eat too many sweets and treats as we know what follows those two culprits…yes the dreaded diet.