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In time for World Mental Health Day, MindWell team member Gillian shares tips for looking after our wellbeing, however busy we are.

How often do you find yourself overwhelmed by the demands of daily life with little time to spare? Money worries, bad news, job pressures – it’s enough to leave anyone feeling frazzled. You might be so busy coping that you sometimes forget to take time for yourself, even though self-care is vital for staying well and feeling resilient. But did you know even spending a short amount of time each day, can positively impact how you feel?

Yes, really! Evidence suggests* that regularly spending time on wellbeing activities can help you feel more positive and get more out of life. Taking time out for yourself can also help in moments of stress. I can remember my mum telling me to take a deep breath and count to 10 when I was a child – a pause when life was frustrating. It really did help. What about you? Do you have a go-to strategy for stressful moments?

Whether you only have 10 seconds to spare or a more leisurely 10 minutes, self-care activities really can make a difference to how you feel. Taking time for yourself can even help boost your self-esteem as you start to treat yourself more kindly.

Start a new self-care habit for World Mental Health Day

10 October is World Mental Health Day, so it’s a great time to start some new self-care habits.

Self-care doesn’t have to cost money or take up a lot of time. To help you get started, we’ve created a free printable resource with tips for how to feel better – whether you’ve got 10 seconds or 10 minutes to spare. Here are a few to get you started.

10 seconds for self-care

Even the shortest time span can give you a moment to catch your breath and refocus. You could try weaving these into your day:

  • Relaxation breathing: taking a deep, slow breath in through your nose and out through your mouth in a steady rhythm a couple of times
  • The STOP technique: saying ‘STOP’ firmly to yourself. Breathing out fully, dropping your shoulders and unclenching your hands. Counting slowly down from five to one. Or try saying ‘no’ to something you don’t want to do
  • Moving your body in any way that’s comfortable for you – even standing up, turning around and sitting down again or just clapping your hands can help you feel more energised

10 minutes for self-care

What about a dedicated 10 minutes? Try some slightly longer self-care practises, such as:

  • Taking a 10 minute break to do something just for you: reading a book or magazine, putting your feet up, doing a puzzle or playing an online game – whatever you find relaxing and enjoyable
  • Keeping your glass or bottle of water topped up today and sipping all day if you can. Read tips from the NHS to make your water more exciting if you’re not keen on drinking it plain
  • Trying a mindful body scan, noticing each area of your body from head to toe. Are there any areas of discomfort? Are you warm or cool enough? Check in with your body and notice what you can do to be more comfortable. Find a longer audio, subtitled and BSL body scan track on the Leeds Mindfulness Co-op website

10 minutes to learn

Hopefully, you’ve found a quick self-care moment and helped yourself to cope better with daily ups and downs. But what about other people in your life?

There might be people around you at home, work, college, university or in your community that could do with some compassion and understanding, or maybe even pointing in the right direction to find some help.

Why not spend 10 minutes researching mental health online or reading a book? Understanding mental health could help you recognise signs in others, feel more confident to talk to someone about their mental health or reduce stigma.

Here’s how MindWell can help:

You can find out more on MindWell about online workshops or courses in Leeds such as mental health awareness or Mental Health First Aid. Why not read the MindWell team’s blog about West Yorkshire Suicide Prevention Champions?

So keep taking 10 for wellbeing?

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. It’s not about always putting yourself first and neglecting other people’s needs. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy and feel well, so that you’re better able to do your job, help and care for others, and do all the things you need and want to achieve in a day.

Looking after our wellbeing isn’t just a one day quick fix. Taking 10 seconds on a stressful day or 10 minutes in a busy week can help, but planning regular self-care activities and breaks can a bigger difference overall.

Plus learning about mental health can help us help others too, even if it’s just suggesting a course or support group or sharing a helpline number to call. Dedicating a fraction of your time to becoming more mental health aware allows you to support those around you effectively.

Good mental health is everyone’s business, so let’s take time to look after ourselves and encourage others to look after themselves too.

Find more wellbeing ideas on MindWell, including:

Explore our MindWell Take 10 for World Mental Health Day 2023 ideas and resources.

Download our Take 10 for World Mental health Day 2023 printable resource to share at work, university, college, home, where you volunteer or stick on your fridge door!

Read more about common mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, panic attacks, sleeping problems and self-harm in our MindWell Exploring your mental health pages.

Find out about training such as mental health awareness and Mental Health First Aid for employees or see what’s available for volunteers or the public from Being You Leeds.

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