In the 1980s civil rights activist and poet Audre Lorde said:
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
Last week MHFA England launched #12DaysOfSelfCare. Starting on Thursday 13th, we will publish an idea for self-care every day on Twitter and Instagram (@MHFAEngland). I am accepting the challenge and taking the advice each day.
Thankfully there is an increasing recognition that self-care is important. In the context of schedules that are often relentless, taking time to relax, be in the moment and actively help our mind and body unwind is vital for our self-care. Recognising our stressors, to see and hear the warning signs in our body and minds, and respond to them, is also important advice.
Self-care is particularly important at this time of year. The holidays can be great fun – for many of us we will be lucky enough to have time off work and time spent with families, partners and friends. And the holidays can also be difficult for all sorts of reasons including financial pressures, social anxiety and the amplification of loss, pain or loneliness.
On the subject of grief, our friends at Happiful magazine offer some really helpful advice on how to manage our emotions at a time of year when the expectation is that we should all be happy.
At MHFA England we are determined to change the national conversation on mental health. That conversation starts with each of us – whether we feel it or not, we are all worth looking after. So, whether it is jigsaws and colouring (I have bought my first jigsaw and colouring books for at least 30 years and am looking forward to having a go), a daily walk or jog, journaling or time with your friends, do try and plan in time for yourself.
For all that it is a cliché, the best gift we can give to others and ourselves is kindness. Action for Happiness has a great calendar with ideas for ‘Do Good December’ which you can find here.
Another helpful resource is our #AddressYourStress toolkit, designed to help when we are feeling stressed and some helpful tips on how to address these feelings.
So please take care over the holiday period: be kind to yourself and others, seek help from someone and somewhere you trust should you need it, notice and take action if you see someone who needs help and hold those you love tight over the holiday period.
If you need to talk to somebody over the holidays the Samaritans will be available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you all a restful break when it arrives: all of us at MHFA England look forward to working with partners, collaborators, colleagues and friends in 2019 to achieve our vision of a society where our mental health and wellbeing is understood as core to all of us, day in, day out