10 ways to build a healthy mindset

In case you have been living under a rock of late, you will know that mental health has become a humungous issue. But here’s the real doozy. In our 40s we need to pay more attention to our mental health and creating a healthy mindset than ever before. Why? Simply because women aged between 40 and 44 years old are five times as likely to suffer with depression compared with younger women. Sheesh….well aren’t we the lucky ones?

So. Here’s the bottom line. Mindset is the foundation of your mental health. So a healthy mindset = good mental health. Thankfully, it’s never too late to change your mindset, and use it as the foundation to bullet proof your mental health. In fact, your fourth decade is the perfect time to change your life and live differently and that all starts with – yup you guessed it – mindset.

Want to build a heathy mindset and reap the benefits? Well, quite honestly who is going to ever answer no to that?! In your 40s you can either choose to a) make progress or b) make excuses. Those of you who fancy a bit of a) come closer as we share 10 ways to build a healthy mindset in your 40s courtesy of Nick Bracks, author of Move Your Mind: How to Build a Healthy Mindset for Life:

Move Your Mind

Simple movement can make all of the difference. Find a small space at home and do at least 15 minutes of exercise. It can be anything…push ups, lunges, skipping…just move at your own pace! 

Feed Your Mind

Make sure (to the best of your ability) that you are eating well and drinking enough water. Also make note of the content you are feeding your mind with (social media, news etc) and discipline yourself to only spend a certain amount of time per day on them.

Connect Your Mind

Call your best friend or a loved one (or a few of them) and offload your stress. Make it clear that they can do the same to you. Being heard can go a long way. And if you are feeling adventurous, spark a conversation with a stranger and see where it leads!

Still Your Mind

Take 5 minutes or more a day to sit with your thoughts. There is no perfect way to do this…you can use a mantra, focus on breathing, or use an app (there are hundreds of free ones online). Just give yourself the time out. Also, stress can affect our sleep patterns. If we follow the healthy behaviours above, we will sleep better and in turn have less stress.

Make it a habit

If we do not create daily habits we will not make long term change in our behaviours. Start by picking the most important thing you want to change and do it regularly for a month. You will be surprised how much change happens in a small amount of time and will become empowered to create other new habits.

Change it up

We can get caught in a rut as time goes by. Humans really are creatures of habit. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we stay conscious about things we want to change and don’t allow ourselves to just go through the motions we will keep ourselves feeling fresh and vibrant.

Do things that scare you

As above, by doing things that scare us we keep our sense of adventure alive. What is something you have always wanted to do but have been too scared? I am sure you won’t regret it if you give it a go.

Reframe how you look at failure

As I discuss in my book, we often view things as either ‘succeeding’ or ‘failing’. If we can reframe that into ‘succeeding’ or ‘learning something’ then we will be more likely to take risks as it becomes a win win.

Challenge stereotypes

We are told by society that we should be married, have a certain job, live in a certain place, have kids etc by a particular age. But why? Who actually decided this? It makes no sense at all. Sure if someone else wants that then good on them, but we get to set our own system of what a successful life means. Ignore what others think and live life the way you want…at any age.

Surround yourself with people that inspire you

It really is true that we become a product of the five people we spend most of our time with. As time goes by we can get stuck spending time with people who no longer serve us. Challenge this and assess those around you. If people are no longer serving you then maybe it is time to look at meeting new and more like minded people.

How are you trying to build a healthy mindset in your 40s? Do share in a comment below and connect with us on Instagram here where we will be continuing the conversation.

NICK BRACKS is the author of Move Your Mind: How to Build a Healthy Mindset for Life (published by Wiley). He has pursued various entrepreneurial projects since earning a Bachelor of Business at RMIT. He has successfully launched five companies including founding his eponymous men’s underwear label, underBRACKS; a successful restaurant venture; co-founding a nutritional supplements company; and co-founding Happy Waves. Nick has presented two TED Talks – one covering how creative and entrepreneurial drive can help combat depression, and a second on the growing suicide epidemic.

Nick now spends his time creating educational content through his Move Your Mind podcast and courses. Nick’s professional life and personal development are perfectly intertwined. He lives between Australia and the United States.  

Photos by Binti Malu, Karolina Grabowska, Nina Uhlíková from Pexels

How to live an alternative lifestyle in your 40s

We’ve all the the feeling, at some point, in our lives where we’ve thought ‘what the f*ck am I actually doing?’ My fu*k it moment was when I got on a plane to Costa Rica where I met my Prince Charming. We are currently living happily ever after. It’s neither the time, or place, to tell my story but if you want to read all about it you can buy my book here!

If you’re not smug as shit like me, then perhaps an alternative lifestyle is something you could look into. Life’s unforgiving carousel relentlessly goes round and round and round until, eventually, we pop our clogs. Hum Drum-ness, Groundhog Day, monotonous tasks can become all consuming. Take the laundry basket for example, how accomplished do you feel when the basket is empty. I feel triumphant. It’s so short lived because before bedtime the basket is half full (or half empty) again. But I’m not talking about the natural boredoms, some people have stopped the carousel. Not only did stop it, they jumped off it straight into the river…

Why I ditched city life for boat life

Okay so it wasn’t quite so dramatic – she moved onto a barge but when I saw Charis’ story, I had to share it.

‘In January 2021, during UK lockdown no. 3, I moved out of my rented two-bedroom flat in affluent North Oxford onto a knackered 68ft narrowboat. Currently, the boat & I are moored up on the river on the outskirts of the city and the other morning I watched an egret fishing from my living room.

Living off grid

What prompted a 40 something woman who had spent almost 20 years in the city to move onto a tiny floating space amidst nature? Many things. The alternative lifestyle seed being planted when my partner of almost a decade and I split up and I could no longer afford the flat. I sublet a room to a lovely Spanish couple, he was an incredibly tall, laid-back chef who moves very quietly, she was a tiny dynamo who made so much noise it was like listening to a tornado approach and was obsessed with cleaning (I am not). It was an amusing couple of years living with them. They made sure I was well fed and happily helped look after my cat, Babushka, so it worked. Until it didn’t.

Burying my head in the sand

I had taken a wage drop after stepping back from hospitality management and to be completely honest, I was drinking a lot which costs money and it wasn’t long before my situation quickly became financially unviable. I did what all sensible people do, buried my head in the sand, and drank some more because I couldn’t see a way out. And even though I knew what I was spending on booze would make quite a difference to my financial difficulties I simply didn’t acknowledge it. Not drinking was completely off the table.

I continued to struggle until push came to shove and the landlord let me know he needed to have building work done. I knew I couldn’t afford to rent a flat on my own anymore so I felt that I had two options (a) find a room to rent which would probably mean having to give up Babushka or (b) leave Oxford, which at the time I didn’t want to do.

Fortunately for me, a friend offered me his boat to live on for a few months… it’s been six months so far and I am loving it. Waking up surrounded by nature daily is pretty magical. I moved on to the boat because I could no longer afford the rising costs of city living and in turn, I have been given an experience that is invaluable.

Looking forward

Boat life has grown my confidence, boosted my resilience, made me more aware of my own resourcefulness, and is teaching me to look after myself, all unexpected bonuses. I have stopped drinking (136 days and counting at the time of writing), I’m gradually dealing with my finances and mentally I am in a much better place. Would that have been the case if I had continued with a fast-paced city way of life? I’ll never know, but what I do know is that I have fallen in love with this way of life, it’s given me so much!’

You can follow Charis’ boating adventures on Instagram here


After struggling for years with her identity, battling low self-worth and unable to find where she was meant to ‘fit’ in the world, Carolyn Hobdey embarked on a process of deep self-discovery; it led her to leave the corporate world behind and focus instead on helping others to bring about an alternative lifestyle.

Today Carolyn is the Founder and CEO of MayDey Limited. She works to share and guide others through the ‘How To’ process that she’s discovered along the way. Living in North Yorkshire, in her spare time, she trains in boxing & weight-lifting, sings in a choir, learns Latin & Ballroom dancing and is a car enthusiast.

Carolyn’s alternative lifestyle story

‘I used to have a definite idea of what ‘success’ looked like. The big job, the house, cars, clothes, holidays, perfect relationship/family… When I abruptly lost all of that mid-2018, I was forced to reassess who I was and what I wanted from life. As I began to put back all those totems of success, I had a creeping unease. It eventually made me realise that none of those things had made me happy.

I knew that I wanted – needed – something different. I was a classic people pleaser; I’d spent decades dimming my light, but all it’d done was make me feel trapped. Not just in my life, but inside my own body.

It took a year to determine the alternative. To see the world beyond the corporate bubble that I’d occupied for 25 years.

I’d worked in Human Resources for the world’s largest employers and recognisable brands. Don’t misunderstand me, it wasn’t all bad – I had amazing experiences, met brilliant people, grown, developed and travelled. I’ll forever be grateful for what that time gave me and I’m not saying I’d never go back. But I’d grown weary. I’d worked relentlessly and, despite its ‘tea and tissues’ image, HR is tough. You see every aspect of the human condition – the good and the bad. I was tired. Tired of trying to persuade grown-ups to behave properly.

Writing our own script

Instead, I wanted to use my story to help others. For many years my friends had been encouraging me to write a book. After my life implosion I took the plunge. I shone a light into the dark corners of life and talked honestly about what it meant to be human – the failures, self-doubt, mistakes – all the stuff you might rather no-one knew.

It became the platform for a conversation about the conversations we have with ourselves. Talk about self-talk. Speak about mental, physical and emotional health. To talk about how we have it within us to change the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives. That we can all achieve a well-lived life – if we just take some simple steps to understand what that means to each of us. To write our own script.

Corporate Isolation

What I feared most about leaving corporate life was feeling isolated. What I have found is how much less isolated I feel. The only person I ‘compete’ with is me. There’s no politics. I spend time with other small-business owners who understand my journey and give selflessly of their time and support.

Now ‘success’ is using my life change to help others change theirs.’

Carolyn’s book, Redefining Selfish, is out to buy now.

Have you had enough? It’s never too late you know. We might be in our 40s but you know what Lenny Kravitz said, It Ain’t over ‘Til It’s Over. Would you consider an alternative lifestyle? Comment below and connect with us on Instagram here to keep the conversation going.

How to manage boundaries while respecting others

I am the self professed Queen of boundaries. Since turning 40, I’d say I’ve found managing boundaries even easier.

Managing boundaries is all about enforcing your personal terms and conditions. It’s now or never so if you need to set some out, you’ve come to the right place for some advice to manage boundaries.

For me, there are many situations where I can feel uncomfortable. It’s not a confidence issue nor one that I actually want to fix. For example, I simply do not enjoy being in a group of women. SO, I just don’t join in. I literally have the opposite of FOMO. The idea of a girls’ night out makes me shudder. Perhaps it’s all those hormones in one place. Who knows? Who cares! Large groups of people don’t enthral me at the best of times. Perhaps it’s because I like being the focus of the attention. I like to be able to interrupt before I erupt, much like a toddler, so I’ve found my people. They like me for my quirks and understand in no uncertain terms not to invite me to girls’ nights out!

I need my own space. I do not like sharing. If there’s a family event, I insist we have our own accommodation. The noise gets too much. The constant ‘togetherness.’ I can’t cope with it. However, I respect that my husband comes from a big family so he likes it – this is where the respect and compromise comes in. We discuss it and come up with a solution. I like to work with exact timings. Again, not something I want fixing, I thrive on routine and habits. So we set out a plan before we go anywhere. God forbid I might enjoy myself and stay later! It doesn’t happen often but it can and when it does, it’s wonderful. Setting boundaries makes me feel in control in a positive way.

There are no set rules in how YOU should live YOUR life. But what is important is that you live YOUR best life. Communicate with your friends and family. Let them know if when you’re uncomfortable in situations. The last thing you want is to live with resentment.

Firstly let’s take a look at why boundaries are awesome: Katharina Wolf Counsellor (MBACP) & PR Account Manager says, “they create space for people to exist in, rather than shutting others out – obviously, they can do that, too, and therefore tend to get a bad rep. Working from this line of thought, that boundaries are a safe place, boundary setting can become easier (among examining the reasons why other people are more important than you – boundary-pushing/crossing is happening.) Especially the over 40s can be affected as their upbringing might still be very much people-pleasing, own-needs disregarding inspired (especially women)”.

To add to that, accredited coach Emma Jefferys aka Action Woman offers her insights to managing boundaries. Her top 5 tips are:

1. What do you need?

Know where the edges are: if you don’t know your breaking point then it’s hard to stop intentionally before you reach it. So notice what you need, what makes you feel good and on top of things. Consider sleep, nutrition, alone time, family time etc. For example if you know that one late night is enough for you then more than that is your edge. Check in daily with how close to the edge you are personally and what you need right now.

2. Set your limits

For you and for others: the whole point of knowing our edges is to stop before we reach them. Sometimes this is about saying no to ourselves so perhaps we only go out on Friday night and not Saturday too or we build in some extra rest time. And other times it is about setting these limits with others.Perhaps you don’t want to fill the diary every single weekend. Or want to shut your laptop down at 6pm and have no screens til morning. Whatever it is that you need think about how you communicate that to others that need to know it.

3. Just say No

Know you can say no and still be a good person: this should be a daily reminder. Your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for others…..repeat after me……

Your self-worth does not depend on how much you do for others.

4. Get your priorities right

Schedule your priorities: most people are excellent at prioritising their schedule but what if the wrong things are on there.  Take time each week to schedule the things that are important to you. Whether that is exercise, meeting a friend, calling your mum or getting an early night, plan to do it and then don’t cancel on yourself.

5. Don’t beat yourself up

Forgive yourself daily: no one is perfect, life isn’t perfect, and we won’t always get things right. Sometimes setting boundaries is having to do lifelong habits (like people pleasing) so have a go, don’t beat yourself when it goes wrong, celebrate when it goes right and know that there will always be another chance to practice. 

6. Ask for Help

Don’t do it alone: If you are trying to maintain boundaries that you don’t find easy then find support. Perhaps practice saying no with a friend. Ask your partner to nudge you if you’re mindlessly watching TV past the curfew you’ve set for yourself. Use an app to limit the amount you can spend on social media.

How to set boundaries and be happy in love

Pascale is a Therapeutic Relationship and Life Coach, the founder of the Surviving to Thriving group coaching program and author of How to be Happy in Life and Love: A guide to living the life you Deserve. See more at: www.youfulfilled.co.uk

Dating can be a wonderful thing and yet a complete minefield at the same time… Once we hit a certain age, things are so different for us. What we look for in a man, in terms of fun, commitment and family, are very different to how we looked at it in our 20s and early 30s. Being able to look after ourselves both physically and emotionally is essential. Our resilience levels and boundaries are very different and because of that we need to be cautious in different ways.

Here are 5 ways to protect ourselves in all things love and dating.

Know your expectations 

We have different priorities when we’re older and deserve to be a little more fussy. We don’t have to be settling or compromising as we did when we were younger. Being prepared to know what you want, I think at our age, is perfectly fair and realistic. If somebody doesn’t make you feel good or makes you feel like you have to change parts of yourself in order to fit their standard, be comfortable to draw the line and say no. No compromises are necessary.

They get to choose too

If they decide that you don’t meet their requirements, that’s totally cool as well. It isn’t the end of the world and doesn’t mean that there aren’t other, better options for you around the corner. This isn’t meant to be a cheesy ‘there are plenty more fish in the sea’ gag, but more likely that, we all get to choose who is right for us and who is not so right for us. It’s not the end of the world, it just means that this isn’t your happy ever after ending (yet).

Trust can be a challenge

If you have been cheated on in the past, which statistically, a lot of women at our age have, don’t treat every man like a cheat. Cheating is unacceptable in any situation, but there are so many good men out there who wouldn’t dream of cheating on you. Unless you have very good reason to think otherwise, trust your partner to treat you well. If your spidey senses are telling you something different, question them and let your intuition guide you as to what’s going on. If you have been hurt before, you may be hypervigilant. Hypervigilance doesn’t mean they are doing you wrong, it just means that you are super wary of not getting hurt again.

Remember to have fun 

Dating and love are meant to be fun. It’s meant to be a happy affair that brings you joy. Don’t make it too serious. Don’t make it too heavy too quick and remember that even though it can at times be very scary, it can also be wonderful, so make sure you enjoy the ride. 

Go with your gut instinct 

Always. If something feels off, don’t push it down and ignore it. A woman instincts are usually spot-on, whatever the situation. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, wary or even scared, please act on those instincts. Just because there are a lot of great men out there, there are also some douches. If the relationship doesn’t feel fun and you don’t feel safe and special, it’s definitely time to move on.

How well do you mange boundaries? Comment below and let us know how you cope.

How to be body confident in your 40s

Remember in your 20s when you finally got that taste of sweet freedom and you felt invincible? Your body was probably a lithe machine of a vessel! No neither do I because quite frankly, it feels like another lifetime ago, and almost certainly a different person! Fast forward to now – your 4th decade – and urban legend tells us that you should be feeling confident in your 40s because of a whole list of reasons. The greatest reason is because we are allegdly supposed to no longer give a shit about anything (hmm debatable). But what about being body confident?

For many of us, our 40s are a time of great change in our bodies and this is exactly why it’s the perfect time to rewrite the narrative around our bodies and self-worth. But how do we do that?

Today we’re giving the floor over to Body Confidence Coach Sarah Lyons who having recently turned 40 herself shares her reflections and tips for feeling confident in both mind and body in your 40s – whatever the situation!

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The fact that my body is now 40 years old is not something to be ashamed of, not something to hide or fix but it is a wonderful palace that I live in. My body is my home in this lifetime and I plan on enjoying it.

Having been around the block in regards to body confidence and finally made my peace I am truly looking forward to the next 40 year because it will not be filled with shame, self doubt or worry about  what anyone else thinks about me or my body. It is none of their business !

Being body confident means something totally different to me now  than even a few years ago. Body confidence to me was always about looking your best so people would think the best of you. It  was about trying to be a certain weight. Because being a teenager in the 90’s was all about being thin and thin ment being happy!

Body confidence now is about having an amazing connection with myself. I must be who I am regardless of how I look and regardless of what I weigh. Body confidence is about the relationship I have with myself and my body.

It has nothing to do with anyone else and I have stopped looking to outside sources for my validation and happiness. Yes I still love to wear my beautiful clothes but now I wear them for me to make me happy.

I can hear you asking how I got to this place of  body confidence. Well the answer is self acceptance and kindness.

Keys was to start being kind to yourself and accepting yourself are

  • To focus on your positive qualities
  • Say kind and positive words to yourself everyday
  • Avoid negative self talk
  • Set positive healthy goals and respect what your body can do.
  • Admire the beauty of others but do NOT compare yourself to them
  • Remind yourself that the media images we see are often unrealistic and unattainable .

Once I started to do these things they quickly became automatic, becoming body confidence is a change of mindset but it is something you have to work on daily. Putting in the work on yourself will lead to united rewards for you and the people around you. You deserve to live a fabulous life.

So how can we be body confident in different areas of our lives? As I said it starts with self acceptance and kindness. And here are some tips to get you started.

Social occasions

It is totally normal to feel some anxiety around social occasions , it is a new experience of meeting new people and being in a new place but try a few things to make it a little easier.

  1. Posture, you are a little bit older but there is no need to be slouching down. Stand tall with your shoulders back. Keep your head up and make eye contact.

2. Tone of voice -a friendly or gentle tone of voice is helpful in any kind of communication, especially an uncomfortable one. When you are mindful of how you say things, you will feel more confident. You will also make the people around you feel at ease.

3. Listen -becoming a good listener is always a good thing but especially in social situations. Don’t look at your phone all the time and use kind facial expressions to show you are listening.

4. Reality check -when we are in new situations like social ones our mind can run away with itself and we start to overthink or over analyze our existence and why we are there in the first place! Reconnect back to yourself with some deep breaths or box breathing .

5. Smile – my number one tip for loving yourself and feeling confident. Smiling is scientifically proven to make you feel better. Smiling at others will help you feel confident and make them feel great.

At work

Feeling confident at work can be hard if you don’t really love the job you are in – if it’s making you feel miserable and depressed then maybe consider moving on. Our work environment plays such a vital role in our wellbeing and confidence.

Here are my top tips for confidence at work:

  1. Cut out the negative self-talk. Try becoming your own best friend and use kinder, more reassuring words to and about yourself.By developing a positive mindset it will help you feel 100% more confident in yourself.

2. Focus on your own strengths not on your weaknesses, if anything needs some improvement don’t talk badly of yourself just work on it.

3. Ask for feedback, if you don’t ask for feedback you will never know how to improve and when its positive feedback just accept it and say thank you

4. Eliminate negative language – your body is always listening to you and if you are always talking to yourself in negative terms you will never feel confident.

5. Fake it till you make it, people may not agree with this one but it has always helped me out in a lot of situations. Acting like you are confident, speaking like you are confident is a sure way to start helping you feel more confident. The more you do it the easier it gets then you actually start to feel it for real !

Confidence as you get older

Our bodies change every day, none of us have the body we had 10 years ago let alone last year. Aging is part of life and it happens to us all no matter what expensive face cream we use! In order to start being confident at any age we have to accept where we are right now. Looking back and longing for the body we had in our 20’s is no good to us because we’ll never have that back . If we constantly measure ourselves against something in the past we are setting ourselves up for failure. Comparison is the thief of joy as the saying goes so whether you are comparing yourself to others or to your younger self it is not serving you . By doing this you will be chasing happiness that could be yours right now at this moment .

Here are my tips for being confident as we get older:

1. Write down all of your achievements – having done this myself I am blown away by how much I have achieved. You will be surprised when you start to really think how much stuff you have forgotten !

2. Develop and open mindset – when we have an open mindset we can start to learn new things and have new adventures. Life is for learning and you are never too old to learn.”Never stop learning because life never stops teaching”.

3. Update your image. Change up your look , change your hair or update your wardrobe this can give you an instant confidence boost.

4. Move your body. Our bodies love to move and find out how yours likes to move – is it dancing, pilates, yoga, or walking. Whatever it prefers, just keep moving.

5. Keep up the positive self talk, don’t join in when your friends start talking badly about thor bodies you steer the conversation to a more positive area.It very easy to get sucked in when others are talking but don’t let it. Stay with the positive !

6. Self care – looking after your well being inside and out will always help you feel confident and your body will thank you for it. Put yourself on top of the list.

7. Set some boundaries. This is also a form of self care. Get away from people who are draining your energy or making you feel bad. Think about the consequence of saying yes all the time.

Being confident at the beach or pool

For many this type of situation can cause a lot of anxiety. The thoughts of putting on swimwear can send people over the edge.

Again if you start to accept and be kind to your body this will be a lot easier .

  1. Buy a swimsuit that flatters your body shape.

2. Dont add any extra layers or skirts, this only adds bulk and may draw attention.

3. Remember having a beach body was made up by people in the fashion and weight loss industry to make you buy their product and feel bad about your body. Don’t let them win.

4. If you love the beach or love to swim don’t let the opinions of strangers stop you from doing what you love.

5. Remember fake it till you make it!

Having true body confidence comes from being our authentic self. When we are living as our true self everything starts to fall into place. It all starts with love and kindness towards you and your body. We only have one body in this lifetime and it’s our home so lets start loving and respecting it.

How confident are you feeling these days? Do you feel body confident? Share your thoughts in a comment below and keep the conversation going on our Instagram here.

Sarah Lyons is a body confidence and well-being coach for mums. Drawing from her own experience in motherhood she is passionate about helping mums develop a positive body image & reconnect to themselves. Get in touch through www.sarahlyonscoaching.com or www.instagram.com/themammycoach

Photo credits: Sunsetoned, Laura Tancredi,  Lisa from Pexels 

How to manage intrusive thoughts

‘Just don’t think about it.’

Possibly the most unhelpful thing one can say to another. How about we respect our thoughts. After all, that’s all they are.

Imagine if you could see everyone’s thoughts. Now there’s a thought. There’s no way of knowing how people think. You might be able to guess what they are thinking but you can’t know how they manage their thoughts.

I wanted to share some of my intrusive thoughts with you. For me, it helps to talk about them. It helps me validate them and it creates a platform in which we can safely say, you know what… this might sound bonkers but… and after this, you might realise you’re not alone and I hope you find some comfort in that.

Gemma Thickett, Advice and Information Service Manager at Rethink Mental Illness, said:

‘Intrusive thoughts can be associated with mental health conditions such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re experiencing mental illness. Intrusive thoughts can be very common, but if it’s starting to affect your quality of life it’s important to explore what you can do to manage them and seek out professional support which can help you.’

My top 4 intrusive thoughts

Like most of us, I think about a bajillion things at once. What can be rather annoying though is the frequency in which I think about the SAME things and they are often things from the past. However, I have managed to use some of my intrusive thoughts to my benefit and I channel them in a positive way while maintaining a good sense of humour about them as that is my way of coping and it works for me.

If I don’t do this…

…then that will happen. I used to wager a LOT on things like if I don’t see another magpie, something negative would happen to me or someone I loved. It wasn’t until fairly recently I realised that I had got a handle on this. I would have physical symptoms of panic (racing heart rate, tingling) if my thought wasn’t fulfilled.

I won’t need a poo will I?

I imagine this is a common one but when I was a very young girl, I was obsessed with not needing to poo anywhere. I won’t need a poo will I? Will I, Will I? The question would swirl around my head over and over again. Now my Mum, who was a legend by the way…. unhelpfully told me that I wouldn’t. And I believed her. So you can only imagine my horror when I was caught short at school and shat myself in year 7. It was decades later I realised that although there’s no place like home, pooing in other places wasn’t as bad as previously dreaded. It’s taught me that if my boys worry about something, I offer them a scenario whereby we come up with a solution if the unthinkable happens.

If I don’t try a bit of the food….

…it will be poison and that person will die. I’m not over this one so if my husband orders a different meal to me, I have to take a bite just in case. Same with the kids’ food.

The one about the boiler pressure

This is currently the most annoying one and it plagues me daily. Do you know what the pressure is on your boiler? Well I do and I know exactly how it fluctuates and unless it remains stable, it really affects me. I’m yet to fully understand why I seek comfort in my boiler but I do and that’s just the way it is. Every morning when I wake up, the 1st thing I do it check it. When I’m feeling particularly anxious about something, I find myself having to leave the boiler cupboard door open just so I can check it more regularly. I don’t need a new boiler. I realise it’s absurd and I can’t make the connection. When the pressure isn’t where it should be, I can find myself in a manic state. But I have lots of tools to help me. Talking of help…

Managing intrusive thoughts: Help is at hand

If you also have to deal with intrusive thoughts – as so many of us do whether we care to admit it or not – then here, Antonia Harman, multi award winning emotional trauma expert and healer and founder of www.divinempowerment.co.uk offers her top five tips to manage intrusive thoughts.

What to do when intrusive thoughts are getting you down

Intrusive thoughts can be both destructive and distracting; they keep you up at night, they stop you from being present, they could even alter your behaviour, making you play small. You may not take opportunities as the little voice in your head tells you not to, even when you know in your core it’s the right thing for you. Intrusive thoughts can cause anxiety and are generally a blight on your life.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to deal with intrusive thoughts:-

1. Self-enquiry

What are the intrusive thoughts actually saying? The thoughts tend to bubble up when you feel a little unsure; they escalate your feelings making a mountain out of a molehill. Are the thoughts constantly murmuring in the background? If they are, which they are for most people, take some alone time to sit and engage with your thoughts. What is that broken record playing on repeat? Is it that you are not good enough? That you will never achieve your goals. Is it abusive about your weight? That you are a terrible parent? Too much of this or too little of that? Whatever it is, listen and work out what the loudest voice is saying.

Once you know that, start asking yourself, is it true? Most intrusive thoughts are unfounded. Let’s take “I’m a bad parent” as an example. Well, are you? No one expects Mary Poppins. Do you stuff up from time to time? That’s cool you are human. Are your kids fed, with a roof over their heads and happy? If so, you can’t be doing that badly now, can you?

To stop intrusive thoughts, you need to find a resolution to them, to get to the point where they no longer resonate; they don’t make sense. For example, if some said you were a ‘tin can’, you would be puzzled. You definitely are not a tin can, so the idea of you being one completely bounces off you.

You need to be that annoying kid who says “But why” repeatedly. Listen to the thoughts dissect them with ‘But why’ you need to be honest with yourself. If some of the points are accurate and there is room for improvement, that’s fine too; make a list and action it. Get proactive and neutralise the blighters. Once the loudest thought is gone, go onto the second and so on.

2. Seek Professional Help

If you are struggling with point one, you could seek professional help? Talk therapy can help probe into the ‘why’ of things to help you burrow in and let things go. Letting it go is the most important thing, seeing it for what it is with a neutral, adult perspective and forgiving all parties. This means you need to forgive them, the situation and yourself. There is a good reason that forgiveness is a central theme in all religions; even AA has ‘make amends’ a major component. Forgiveness stops intrusive thoughts and allows for a happier you. If you are looking for non-attachment to your thoughts, you could give Divine Empowerment a try; we dissolve the energy or emotion associated with trauma. Once it’s gone, you find peace in the situation you don’t feel triggered when you think of it; you don’t feel anything; it’s neutral and just the facts without the loaded emotions.

3. Get into Nature

The more grounded and relaxed you are, the quieter your mind is. Have you noticed that the intrusive thoughts subside when you are on hols? Why is that? Of course, you are less stressed (hopefully), but there is more to it. Being in nature is grounding the negative ions you get from the sea or forest to help to quieten the mind; the body is less stressed and anxious. Make being in nature part of your daily practice if you can do it barefoot or in moccasins, all the better (rubber-soled shoes block grounding); that way, the negative ions can be absorbed through your feet. To really connect to nature, go for a walk alone and if you are feeling brave, leave your phone indoors. The world is unlikely to end whilst you are on your 30-minute stroll. Many people constantly listen to music and have little or no time to self-enquiry whilst on your walk. Allow your thoughts to bubble up and refer to tip one.

4. Exercise

Yoga, pilates, chi gong, and tai chi are great way to ground and quieten the mind. They calm down your adrenalin and cortisol levels, causing less stress. The more pressure you have, the busier your mind will be. Meditation is another option; there are countless guided meditations on YouTube; apps like Calm and Mindful are brilliant as they keep you accountable to your daily practice. You can start your day with a guided meditation, use breathing techniques when you get stressed and even listen to bedtime stories and much more.

5. Monitor Visual Consumption

Are you hooked on the news? Let’s face it; there hasn’t been much good news of late are you watching the news on repeat and stressing yourself out? It’s great to be well informed but not overly well informed. If you have news bulletins on your phone, switch them off. Stick to watching the news once a day at the most. Whatever you are doing now, halve it; there is a lot of ‘fear porn’ out there which will cause intrusive thoughts.

Are you hooked on true crime documentaries or horror shows that stress you out? Do you watch scary things late at night and go to bed fretting about it? If so, knock it on the head entirely. If the intrusive thoughts are about something you have seen on the telly, turning your box off is a simple fix!

Have you ever suffered with intrusive thoughts? Do leave a comment and connect with us on Instagram here where we love to chat all things being in your 40s.

Got Imposter Syndrome? Here’s why Imposter Syndrome is hitting us hard!

The other day I was talking to a good friend about what bothered her most about being in her 40s now. I was met with two words that used to be my own nemesis: Imposter Syndrome. You will either know very well what these two words mean having struggled with it yourself, or will be thinking Lord woman what on earth are you on about!

In case you fall into the latter, let me break it down for you. Very Well Mind has the perfect explanation of Imposter Syndrome, and it goes something like this:

Imposter syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. It can affect anyone no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.

So how many of you now know what I’m talking about? Well, probably 6 in 10 of you, seeing as that’s how many women experience imposter syndrome at some stage of their lives. For years, I found myself looking over my shoulder, feeling like I was spinning the world’s greatest lie like I was going to be caught. I skulked around with this nagging feeling that I was not really who I said I was, or doing what I said I was. Even as I write those words, I realise just how completely bonkers that sounds, like I have a major personality disorder of some kind. Even after my career had taken me on TV and radio numerous times over, I had this horrid little voice in my head whispering at me, “you’re a fake!”. The thought alone makes me shudder!

So why is it so many of us women feel like a fraud and that we’ve somehow oversold ourselves when the reality is we’re shit hot and have totally earned it? And why can’t we stop comparing ourselves to others, constantly beating ourselves over the head with other people’s successes when we should in fact be celebrating our own? And more poignantly, why can all of this feel so much worse in our 40s when we should instead be reveling in the so-called confidence we should be enjoying in life and our careers by now?

Hold the phone caller! Because in this deep dive on Imposter Syndrome, we’ve lined up some of the most well-versed professionals on Imposter Syndrome to help us understand why we’ve fallen under the IS spell and how we can break it.

imposter syndrome

How do you know you have imposter syndrome?

Faye Cox, Mindset & Confidence Coach believes women in their 40’s are still experiencing Imposter Syndrome despite their success, as the sheer act of comparing ourselves to others tends to arise when we step out of our comfort zone.

The more successful we become the more we step into unknown territory which is where we feel uncomfortable and our self-doubt kicks in. Each time we do this, we have to re-adjust and use the techniques we’ve learnt to overcome it. More on that down below!

So is imposter syndrome just a female thing?

According to Intuitive Business Coach Sam Evans, it’s present in everyone, but women tend to suffer more, due to the emotional connection of their goals and dreams and the difference in upbringing between men and women.   

With the increase of female entrepreneurs online, it can be difficult to believe in yourself when you are constantly comparing yourself to other women causing disbelief that anything is possible for you.

Imposter Syndrome attacks the human psyche based on the programming of the subconscious mind which is where all your beliefs, and memories are stored.  Somewhere in your lifetime, you experienced a significant event that caused you to feel the way that you do which in affect triggers the feelings of inadequacy.

Does imposter syndrome becomes worse in your 40s? 

Unfortunately, Sarah Pittendrigh, Breakthrough Coach believes that Imposter syndrome can strike at any age, it can become particularly prevalent among women over forty. For many years, a woman’s focus has been on everyone and everything else; she’s the strong woman, the glue that keeps it all together and makes sure everyone else’s life is running smoothly. She supports her partner, she brings up her family, she nurtures her business – the focus is on everyone but her.

However, in her forties, a number of things can knock her off-kilter. Her children are growing up and she doesn’t need to be so hands-on. Her relationship with her partner may have changed over the years, whilst their energy shifted to their joint responsibilities and it can be challenging to bring the focus back to just the two of them.

When the time comes to refocus on your future, you can feel lost and lose sight of your direction and of your goals. The goals you had in your twenties may feel like a distant memory. It is when you lose this purpose and sense of self that Imposter Syndrome can set in.

This is echoed by Monika Mateja of Live Well Coaching who points to the fact that all of the above adds to insecurities and contributes to second-guessing ourselves. We doubt our abilities even if we have a successful career because there is so much going on in our life. In particular, in our 40s we begin to experience more health issues including unexplained weight gain and brain fog that can make us feel like we failed ourselves and this can contribute to low self-esteem and feeling like a fraud.

Does this sound familiar?

Jo Swann, a successful Director at a PR firm knows first hand that the Imposter Syndrom struggle is real, “As an ambitious high achiever I set up my business in my 20s and was full steam ahead, and built a successful business for 10 years working with large brands like banks and building societies and brands like Whistles and Yo! Sushi. No imposter syndrome there!

But then I had some personal circumstances that made me wake up and realise – just as I turned 40 that I wanted to change track. Practically burnt out with a young son I decided I wanted to use my skill in another way and put the soul back into my PR work – so I started to work with female entrepreneurs with a new business  – helping them use the power of PR to get their stories out there. Working locally I LOVED this but then came the introduction to the online world.

Oh my God – I freaked out and this is when my imposter syndrome hit. It was full of glamorous women rocking the online space, who looked so comfortable chatting on video, sharing their lives and successes (and I couldn’t even take a selfie). I was overwhelmed and didn’t see where I fit in despite having nearly 20 years PR experience and being networked to some of the most successful online entrepreneurs of the time, who readily accepted me into their circles.

It’s taken me two, nearly three years to find my true guts again and retrieve that ballsy 20-year-old as this new world spawned limiting beliefs, lack of self-worth and huge comparison-itus. This led to me playing small, undercharging and over-delivering until I finally took the bull by the horns, to tackle my blocks head-on and with the help of a fabulous coach I came out the other side. I now love helping other women fight the battle too, helping them use PR and the confidence it brings to fight their imposter off!”

imposter syndrome

Some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome…

So you’ve got Imposter Syndrome and it’s eating away at you one bitter little bite at a time. What to do? Follow these tips from Joanna Howes, Leadership and Performance Coach.

Women in their 40s still experience Imposter Syndrome as the inner work hasn’t been done to find out the reason why they have it in the first place.  Imposter syndrome doesn’t stop you from being successful, for some, it is actually a driver to prove themselves.  It can however stop you from owning, celebrating and being proud of what you have achieved, as you do not connect your success with how great you are. You do not stand in your true power and you can find yourself hiding from what you could be.

My top tips for overcoming Imposter Syndrome:

  1. You need to look inside yourself to get to know who you are. We are all born with self-leadership yet along the way, through school, parents, and friends we adopt roles to survive, to fit in and belong and these roles can squash our true self. When you find out which roles you’ve adopted you can then work to be back in charge of them, instead of them being in charge of you.
  2. Notice whether the thoughts you have about yourself are beliefs that are limiting you.  If you say ‘I’m not good enough’ is there any evidence to support this or is it a belief you have created or a story you have been telling yourself?
  3. Start affirmations in the morning. It took me a while to believe these affirmations work, and I can tell you after doing them myself they really do.  Look in the mirror and say ‘I am enough’, ‘I am worthy’ and ‘I belong’, and ‘I can handle whatever comes my way’. You can write your own but if you need something to get started with, these are powerful ones to use.

Are you currently struggling with Imposter Syndrome? Or perhaps you have beaten and moved on from crushing self-doubt and feeling like a fraud? Leave a comment below and follow us on Instagram here where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

Picture credits:  Antonio DillardOlya KobrusevaAndrea Piacquadio, Thought Catalog  from Pexels 

Will meditation help me? Here’s why you need meditation in your life

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Have you often wondered “will meditation help me?”.

Well, let me break it down for you like this. Life before meditation, and quite frankly, I was completely crazy. From struggling with insomnia to unleashing seismic fits of rage on my partner, I felt like a terrible parent and human being wound like a tight coil ready to spring at any time. You name the inner demon, I was struggling with it.

I was on the road to 40 and beginning not to like myself very much. I had become so grossly reactionary to pretty much everything and especially when life wasn’t going according to plan – which let’s face it can feel like 99% of the time. I wondered “will meditation help me?”. I desperately hoped the answer would be yes.

I needed to mentally unplug and get away from it all, and six years ago booked myself onto a half day meditation workshop with Simon Hoten for beginners where I learnt the basics of meditation, how to meditate using a candle, moving meditation and more. I had always been nervous about the idea of meditation. Could I actually sit still and meditate when I couldn’t even handle a Savasana at the end of a yoga class without wanting to have a massive twitching fit? And even if I managed to do that, when on earth would I ever fit meditation into my daily life?

I left the workshop feeling deeply and sublimely relaxed. The best takeaway? The revelation that even just three minutes of meditation could help me. And armed with that knowledge that meditation didn’t require a large chunk of my time, I tentatively started my meditation practice, just before light’s out every evening.

Six years later, it’s still going strong. Sometimes it’s three minutes – sometimes it’s 15 minutes. Hey I’m not counting! But either way I am no longer asking “will meditation help me” because I know the answer is a resounding yes.

Will meditation help me? Here are the ways it has done good in my life

Meditation has so far improved my life by:

  • Easing my anxiety
  • Improving my overall mental health
  • Helping me sleep
  • Making me less reactionary
  • Increasing my self-awareness and self-control
  • Making me feel overall happier and more confident
  • Enhancing my productivity, creativity and efficiency

But don’t just take my word for it. Just google “How meditation changed my life” and you will find reams of pages dedicated to people saying the same. This – my friends – is no coincidence. Because meditation works.

Will meditation help you find your right mind?

Recently I discovered Finding my Right Mind: One Woman’s Experiment to put Meditation To The Test. The book follows Vanessa Potter’s journey – where one day she woke up to find herself blind and paralyzed. How absolutely petrifying! She was stunned to discover that it was meditating, not drugs, that saved her mind.

Convinced she had more to learn, she embarked on her own consciousness road trip, exploring the major schools of meditation, along with hypnotherapy and psychedelics. In order to objectively record her journey, Cambridge neuroscientists measured her brain activity, with their observations and results featured within the book. It’s a fantastic whistle-stop your of the different types of meditation out there, and it provides an unusually voyeuristic glimpse into how powerful meditating can be. So if you’re not yet convinced that meditation can help you find your right mind – or even how on earth it can – then I would suggest you read this book!

I loved how perfectly she summed up the impact meditation can have on your life in her conclusion:

“It’s taken effort and time, but meditating doesn’t have to be a straight jacket; ironically, it’s been freeing. I’ve learned to be responsible for myself – what I think, feel and do is up to me….I had to acknowledge the different versions of myself. The nice, patient self along with the grumpy, worried-about-my-kids self. Neither is better or worse.”

She continues, “Meditation doesn’t have an on-off switch. It’s not as simple as doing it or not doing it. Sitting still is only part of it. What happens after that then, twenty or thirty minutes is just as important.” It’s that last part that rings so true for me – it’s about how meditation eventually informs everything that you do in your life, and makes it better.

Help! I can’t sit still and quieten my thoughts for love nor money

I hear you! I also have a brain that behaves like it has been soaked in amphetamines for a week straight plus a back that screams “I hate you!” most of the time. But yet still, I am living proof that it is possible. If you are in the same camp, then you will want to know about Sitting Comfortably by Swami Saradananda – an internationally renowned yoga and meditation teacher who has inspired thousands of people to practise.

It is full of tips for those who are prone to getting distracted, finding sitting painful, lack of time and self-discipline. Read: everybody. Once you have read this there will be no more excuses. You will stop wondering hmmmm will meditation help me and dive in and finally find out for yourselves.

Swami notes, “The mind likes constant stimulation, so when you try to sit quietly during meditation, without giving your mind external entertainment, it may come up with resistance and excuses not to continue. Rather than viewing these as setbacks, it is useful to view them positively, as obstacles to be overcome and lessons to learn from. Below are some common mental and physical challenges of meditation and how to overcome them.”

Be in the moment

Memories of the past and daydreams of possible futures can often distract the mind. If these come up while you are trying to meditate, just bring your mind back to your point of focus – whether it is your breath, a mantra, a visualization, or whatever other technique you have chosen to use.

Avoid fault-finding and replaying thoughts

Try not to review the shortcomings of other people when you are sitting for meditation and also be careful not to get caught up in self-criticism. If you find your mind re-processing the events of the day during meditation, remind yourself to come back to your point of focus, whatever that may be.

Be fearless

You may uncover hidden fears during meditation that have been lurking within your subconscious mind. These can manifest in many forms: fear of death, disease, solitude, criticism, or even just facing yourself. All fear stands in the way of meditative progress, so develop the habit of observing them with detachment. You will find that many will dissipate of their own accord if, instead of allowing yourself to get caught up with them, you simply return your attention to your chosen point of meditation focus.

Avoid muscle cramps

You could take a walk before sitting to prevent cramps. Make sure that you are getting enough potassium in your diet – and maintaining a healthy potassium-magnesium-calcium balance. Consider eating more bananas, dried apricots, prunes and other fruits.

Feeling disorientated?

Sometimes you may feel that your body is whirling or moving in a spiral motion as you sit in meditation. This tends to be more common if you meditate with your eyes closed. If this happens, open your eyes for a moment to reorient yourself and then close them and restart your meditation practice.

Exercise for optimal energy

Doing some form of exercise prior to meditating – whether stretches, yoga poses, breathing exercises or even just going for a brisk walk – can help to energize you for it.

So if you still think that meditation is just sitting around and doing nothing then think again! Still wondering “will meditation help me”? Let’s put it this way – I would be willing to put my house on the line and answer your question with “yes it will!”. Well, go on then and give it a try. After all, you’ve got nothing to lose, apart from all those bad habits that meditation can help you get rid of :).

Photo by Shashi Ch on Unsplash

Worried about mental health? 5 steps to maintain a positive mindset

Worried about mental health? We are inundated with information on how to keep our physical bodies healthy. You feel fat so you eat healthier foods and exercise. Physically you see the difference. People start to say how much weight you’ve lost. You LOOK different. But mental health? Sadly there’s no window to our minds. Many people hide their true emotions, scared to show their ‘real’ selves incase others take umbridge.

Our minds need exercise. Our minds need rest and our minds need as much attention as our physical being.

Mental health awareness week

It’s mental health awareness week (10th-16th May 2021). This offers an opportunity to focus on assessing how we are ‘feeling’ and what we might need to change. Maintaining a positive mindset is more important than ever before. Given this past year during covid, we’ve constantly faced challenges and adversity head on.

Mental Health Matters

Kelly Mesut is a counsellor and psychotherapist, reiki practitioner, health & wellness business owner and trainee yoga teacher. She has pulled together a few key tips that she recommends to clients, family and friends.

These aren’t prescriptive tips, neither are they a cure for mental health conditions, but can help you care for your mental health every day.

Top Tip Number 1: Movement

Many people readily admit to ‘hating’ exercise which turns them off the idea that this could be beneficial, so the term ‘movement’ feels more accessible. 

Movement is anything that gets your body moving, doing something that you enjoy and makes you feel good. Kelly recommends a podcast with Kelly McGonigal PhD, a health psychologist and lecturer, in which she discusses her book, The Joy Of Movement. She talks about how movement is fundamental to being human and discusses its role in combatting mental ill-health.

Try to move your body in some way each day, if you’re goal oriented set a few goals to motivate you. If you’re not, just enjoy it and feel into it, be mindful of how movement makes you feel and monitor your mood before and after. Most of all, enjoy it! Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like, indulge in an activity that you find fun, and bear in mind that just 10 minutes of walking has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health matters.

Top Tip Number 2: Healthy Diet

We’ve all heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. If your body isn’t receiving the nutrients it needs to function optimally, then how can we feel our best mentally and physically? It’s like filling a car with the wrong type of fuel. If our bodies are continually deprived of ‘real’ nutritious food, then sustainable good health is going to prove elusive. The perfect diet isn’t possible, we should enjoy our food and take pleasure in it, but be mindful that you’re giving your body and mind what it needs. You don’t need to say ‘no’ to the things you love, just include them as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Top Tip Number 3: Sleep 

Sleep and rest is really key to mental health. There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. So, it can be a bit of a negative cycle. Brain fog and a lack of clarity, feeling slow and sluggish, irritability, lacking in energy; it’s not fun. What can help is working out if an early night or a later rising time suits you better.

Sometimes it can be a matter of just consciously prioritising more sleep, but if you’re struggling to sleep, there are a number of things you can do that may help promote better sleep:

  • Start winding down a couple of hours before your planned bedtime, put screens away and start thinking about consciously slowing down.
  • Try to avoid TV etc in the bedroom so that you associate the room with sleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a nice temperature – so you don’t overheat or get too cold.
  • Try and go to bed at the same time each day so your body becomes used to a routine. 
  • Try reading before bed in another room to help your mind relax. Journalling before bed if you have things on your mind can be helpful to get thoughts out of your head. (a notepad by your bed can be helpful if you are woken by worries or an endless to-do list)
  • Sleep meditations. (there are so many meditation apps around to choose from)
  • Be aware of how foods and eating patterns such as caffeine, alcohol and eating late can affect your sleep and mental health.

Top Tip Number 4: Connect 

Connecting with someone you care about, someone who lifts you up, whether that’s in person, online or over the phone, is hugely important. ‘Connect’ is one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’. “There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.”

There’s also the saying that ‘we are the average of the five people we are around the most’. Surround yourself with the people who bring out the best in you, who make you laugh, who leave you feeling on top of the world. As we move through life and our social time is perhaps more constrained by our various responsibilities, use it wisely and surround yourself with those people who make you feel like the best version of yourself. Not for validation, for solidarity!

Top Tip Number 5: Give

‘Giving’ is another one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Giving doesn’t have to mean money, it can be your time, your expertise, or your kindness. It could be donating to a cause dear to your heart, or it could be a genuine compliment to someone. There’s something lovely about giving to others with no agenda, about making a difference, large or small to someone else, it makes us feel good. If you’re thinking about someone else, it also helps shift the focus away from the self. Research shows that depression and anxiety are linked to a state of self-focus, but when helping others, you shift to a state of ‘other’ focus.

Mental Health Matters Bonus Tip: Do something that lights you up – everyday

This is a bonus tip! No matter how small, do something (positive) you love every day. When we do, we switch our energy and our state. Whether it’s listening to music you love, dancing around the kitchen, reading, meditating, yoga, running, a walk in nature (nature is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and its many beneficial effects on mental health are widely documented), a raucous phone call with your favourite person, painting, an episode of your fave TV show, just give yourself permission to fully ENJOY something at least once a day.

The above are not a cure for mental health conditions and you should always consult your GP first and foremost if you’re are struggling with your mental health. But these are a few strategies that can help to boost mental health. If you feel that you need to seek help, please do so. There is no shame, only strength, in admitting that you need to address something.

You are important, we are all important, and we all deserve to feel our best as much as possible. We’re human, our emotional states change all the time, but if you’re feeling persistently low and are continually struggling, please know that this is not fixed and can change.

Own yourself. Protect your mental health. Because mental health matters.