To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, ZPB have created a special edition of our typical Friday Five… Friday Thrive.
We interviewed five members of our team to find out the things they like to do to improve their mental health and combat feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is the official theme of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 and it can affect us all. In fact, one in four adults feels lonely some or all of the time. To find out more about Mental Health Awareness week visit the Mental Health Foundation website. For support combatting loneliness visit Campaign to End Loneliness.
Currently, my coping mechanism is stress baking.
Baking is good if you have had a bad day and things haven’t gone to plan or if you have hit a wall and it feels like nothing has been achieved. Going home and putting all the ingredients together to bake a cake always cheers me up as you can generally rely on a lovely product at the end and it’s a small win.
I don’t have a favourite thing to bake as I like to try new things. Recently, I tried making donuts for the first-time.
Things do occasionally go wrong. Once my cake tin, which was quite old, split with cake batter in the oven. Picture cheesecake mix all over your oven… not exactly a mood lifter!
At the end of the day, even if you bake a shit cake – you still ultimately still have a cake.
The outdoors is my happy place; fresh air, walking around and running in the woods. My dog, Jax, gets me out every morning and we enjoy the fresh air together. Jax is a rescue chihuahua cross breed. We are not sure what he is mixed with as he was a rescue dog but we think he is mixed with an Italian Greyhound.
I have a cold shower every morning and also enjoy wild swimming. There are lots of studies on cold water and how it is good for your vascular system. You don’t need to go to any extremes – a cold shower for 20 seconds every morning really helps me to feel energised.
Spending time with my family and having dinner together is also a way to reconnect and take me away from everyday stresses. Taking the time to hear about their days feels good. When they have had a tough day they can speak about it and we problem solve together. When I’ve had a tough day I can speak to them and it decreases the burden. With two teenage boys it’s important to have dinner together as now that lockdown is over it can be easy to get caught up in everyday life and not take the time.
I find it is important to always actively make plans in advance to see friends.
With busy work schedules and living in a big city, it can be hard to do things spontaneously, so planning is vital. Loneliness isn’t just about being physically by yourself. Sometimes alone time can be enjoyable and restorative too.
Going to my local park, even if it’s just for some alone time, can feel quite comforting as being around other people who are also taking a moment to themselves creates a sense of community.
Pets and animals can have a really positive impact on mental health. I’ve had my cat Milky Jo for 3 years. She was a stray cat living life rough on the streets and then she moved in with us. I love hanging out with her. The good thing about animals is the companionship – it’s a friendly face in the morning or when you get home from work. They’re immune to the pressures of life and work – a perfect little buddy!
Having worked in Vauxhall for a few years, I always find a trip across the road to Vauxhall City Farm to see the chickens and donkeys very calming and mood-boosting.
Making that time to stay connected with friends in an actual physical setting is also underrated. It is very easy to think you are staying connected with friends over WhatsApp or video calls but actually this form of connection can be more draining than it is connecting.
Critical for my general well-being is social connections. I need to talk and be around people. I will pick up the phone for a chin-wag, 10mins is normally all I need to turn a pretty blah day into something redeemable.
London is a lonely city and it is very easy to feel isolated. One of the things I had to do when I moved here in 2014 was actually go out and find people. Although I knew lot’s of people here, everyone is very dispersed – not like back home and at Uni. I had to go out of my way to join local initiatives such as choirs in order to feel less lonely.