Our local Time to Change Champions are leading the fight against mental health stigma. With this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week being themed on ‘Kindness’, they are sharing stories about how different sorts of kindness have helped them, and allowed them to help others:
“Hi there! My name is Joshua, and for a long, long time I had no idea how to be kind to myself.
I grew up before the words “self-care” were a part of our everyday vocabulary. If anything, the act of dedicating some time, effort, or money exclusively for yourself would have been viewed as selfish.
Even after it became more well-known, self-care seemed to me as being represented as something that could be bought. Be it relaxing with luxury candles and expensive bath bombs or splurging on designer clothes during retail therapy, it felt like every brand, celebrity and advertising agency in existence was using this trendy new phrase as an excuse to sell their latest products in the name of looking after your body and mind.
For a number of people, self-care will include those steaming baths and shopping trips – but that is only one option. I mean, I’ve tried this approach many times, and I just ended up sitting there thinking… “Man, now I’m just depressed in a bathtub!”
And that’s because showing yourself kindness, love and compassion is completely subjective. But while it’s different for everyone, its importance is universal.
The first definition of self-care is this:
“the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
During some periods of my life where I was struggling with anxiety, depression and addiction, my self-care was simply about doing the bare minimum. Brushing my teeth, taking my medication, and that was about it. That was my goal. And when you compare that with that first definition, it sounds about right.
There is however, a second definition:
“the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
I believe that this definition more accurately describes my view on self-care today. Not because of the progress that I’ve made in my recovery, but because I now understand that there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself. There is nothing selfish about making sure that you’ve eaten enough, drank enough water, and gotten enough sleep. There is nothing shameful about taking some time out, even five minutes, to focus on your own needs, your own well-being, and your own mental health. Yes, that could be in a bath, but it could also be with a decent book, a meditation app, or an episode (or five) of your favourite show!
Everyone deserves kindness. Life can be difficult, complicated, and stressful – especially in these chaotic times that we’re currently in. So don’t forget to a show a little to yourself every once in a while!”
The Portsmouth and Southampton Time to change hub is delivered in partnership by Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council, co-ordinated by Solent Mind.
We are committed to the Hub being led by Champions. There are many ways that registered Champions can get involved in the direction of the Hub, including joining us at Steering Group meetings. If you’d like to find out more please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are looking for support with your mental health or wellbeing at this difficult time, please visit our services page.