By Jeremy Godwin.
Hello! Welcome to November (how did that happen?!) and welcome back to another edition of Mental Health Talk, the newsletter that takes the Let’s Talk About Mental Health conversation further by sharing inspiring and practical stuff related to mental health and wellbeing! Let’s get talking!
This week on Let’s Talk About Mental Health…
This week’s episode/post of Let’s Talk About Mental Health (out now!) is called Let’s Talk About… Over-thinking. It’s all about why over-thinking happens and how to tackle it head-on for better mental health and wellbeing, especially when you’re in the middle of an over-think-a-thon.
You can read the blog here or find a direct link to listen on your preferred podcast platform here (including an audio-only version on YouTube). Speaking of podcast platforms – Let’s Talk About Mental Health is finally available on Apple Podcasts so hooray! My fellow iOS users can find it here. Also out on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and several other platforms.
Welcome to November and Happy Halloween!
It’s officially November today! Well, it is here in Australia – for the rest of you, just give it a few hours. 🙂 If you thought I was going to let the start of a new month or Halloween pass without comment, then you would be very sorely mistaken!
First, Halloween. I love Halloween – I used to drive everybody nuts at work by going crazy with decorations and sound effects, and putting on a costume competition (to everybody I ever managed: sorry, not sorry!). As exciting and festive as Halloween is, remember it’s about honouring the dead so take a moment for quiet contemplation and rememberance of those loved ones who have passed as well as your ancestors who made it possible for you to be here today (in between dressing up as an over-sexed pumpkin or a morally-dubious Dobby the Elf). And don’t forget to prepare for trick-or-treaters the right way:
Tips for November Wellbeing
November – it’s an interesting time of year. Here in the Southern Hemisphere the days are getting longer and warmer, and we’re readjusting our schedules to make the most of the extra daylight; in the Northern Hemisphere, your days are getting shorter, darker and colder as you prepare for the winter ahead. Regardless of where you are in the world, there are a few things I highly encourage you to do to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing:
- Seasonal eating – see what’s in season in your part of the world and factor as many fresh fruit and vegetables as you can into your diet every day. This planet provides us with amazing food full of nutrients that support our bodies throughout the year, so stop eating take-away/frozen food and spend 5-10 minutes preparing a home-cooked meal at least once or twice a week. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it.
- Stick to a schedule – I know it’s super-tempting to adjust your schedule as the seasons change (staying up late in summer, sleeping lots in winter) but you do damage to your health and wellbeing when you do that. The second best thing I ever did for my mental health (after giving up alcohol – some people aren’t great with moderation!) was to start going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time every morning. Give it a try for a month if you don’t already do it, and see how you feel.
- Get outside as much as you can – we’re heading towards the extremes of summer/winter, so take every opportunity you can to get outside now because you’re probably not going to want to when it’s 45C/113C outside and it feels like your face is on fire, or when it’s -10C/14F outside and your face has just frozen into an agonised scream. Even 5-10 minutes is better than nothing. I’m one of those people with fair skin, blue eyes and dark hair which means I tend to burn/freckle (I’ve made my peace with it… mostly) so I can’t spend too long in the sun, so I take Vitamin D supplements and they seem to work for me (and they definitely helped when I stopped taking anti-depressants). There’s no real consensus on the use of Vitamin D supplements and mixed perspectives on their effectiveness in treating depression; here is an interesting article that might help you to make the decision that feels right for you.
- Embrace the change of seasons – it is what it is, and you have no control over it, so why not go with it? I made a point of really embracing every part of each season and celebrating it, because without summer there can be no winter and vice versa. Look out for all the little things – the flowers, the trees, the way the birds behave… it’s an opportunity to slow down and look around at this amazing world we live in.
- Have fun – whether you’re freezing your butt off indoors or trying to avoid third-degree burns in the sun (or is that just me going to the shop? Lol!), have some fun!
In Mental Health News This Week…
Self-stigma: The ‘next frontier’ in mental health (News.com.au, 29 October 2019): Well, I definitely felt this one… one of the things I am passionate about in my work is encouraging conversations about the good, the bad and the ugly of mental health and wellbeing because I know first-hand just how much shame and embarrassment can be tied up in admitting to yourself (let alone others) that you have a mental illness. A lot has been done over the past decade or so to educate the public about mental health and break down stigmas, but it’s the final frontier of self-stigma that needs our attention. This article discusses some of the challenges and opportunities associated with doing just that (it’s focused on Australia but the learnings apply anywhere). Read it here.
The five: ways to slow the onset of Alzheimer’s (The Guardian [Australia edition], 27 October 2019): A quick article with some of the latest about things those with Alzheimer’s can do to slow its progress. As someone who has a family member with Alzheimer’s, which may mean I am more likely to develop it later in life, I am definitely keen to keep up with the latest research (feel free to send me anything interesting you come across via social media!). Read the article here.
When you say you’re ‘stressed’ at work, you could be disguising a more specific problem (ABC News, 30 October 2019): A great article encouraging all of us to be more specific about our feelings/emotions/thoughts especially when feeling ‘stressed’ – this goes hand-in-hand with what I’ve said a few times now in my writing and podcast about digging in to the deeper ‘why’ behind things so you’re treating the root cause, not just the symptom. Read it here.
My 3 favourite pop culture things this week…
Here’s some pop culture-y things I’ve been loving this week – never forget that it’s the little things that make you happy which contribute to good mental health and wellbeing, so make time to have fun every single day.
- Tommy Lenk’s Trashcast (Podcast, multiple platforms) Actor (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer), comedian and all-round funny person, Tommy Lenk, launched a podcast in October, and it’s twisted and hilarious. If you follow him on Instagram and have seen his surreal impressions of Tilda Swinton or his fantastic recreations of red-carpet outfits using scrap materials (‘Lenk’s lewks for less’), you probably know what to expect (and if you don’t follow him on Instagram, why the hell don’t you?!). Special mention for his AMAZING Halloween costume this year, when he dressed as Moira Rose (from Schitt’s Creek) in her fruit wine commercial, glass and all. Love it. Love everything about it. More please, Mr Lenk.
- Frayed, Season 1 (TV series, ABC & ABC IView in Australia) – This new Australian comedy is hilarious – it’s not a laugh-out loud every five seconds kind of deal, but it is utterly hysterical. Set in the late 1980’s, Simone/Samantha (watch the show for an explanation) and her family lose everything , forcing them to move back to Newcastle, Australia. Which if you lived in Australia in the 80’s, you would be all-too-familiar that our regional centres, like Newcastle, were not exactly top of everybody’s list when choosing where to live. It’s a smart comedy with moments of drama woven in, and I am finding myself counting down the days each week for the new episode. Catch it while you can.
- The Mercury Retrograde Book by Yasmin Boland & Kim Farnell (Book, available in print and eBook) – who hasn’t blamed Mercury retrograde for one problem or another at some point? Given that another one has just started, this new release is a timely one. It provides the reader with tips on how to turn what is usually seen as a time of chaos into a time of creativity in order to repair, renew and revamp your life. Anything is better than screaming at a non-working laptop for 45 minutes or suddenly discovering half your post didn’t publish correctly (see ‘A Quick Apology’ at the end of this week’s newsletter)…!
2 Instagram Posts That Made My Week…
I’m a highly visual person so I love Instagram. I understand the criticisms of it but, like any tool, how social media affects you is completely dependant on how you use it. I choose to follow accounts that inspire me and/or make me laugh and I don’t compare my life to others, and I have no hesitation in hitting ‘unfollow’ if an account is heading to the dark side in terms of content or overall message. My morning wake-up ritual involves a strong cup of coffee (or four) and a wander through Instagram to wake up my creative juices before I start work, so I decided each week to share a little of that process here by including two posts that made me think, laugh or feel some kind of way. Enjoy! (PS: I made sure the draft actually saved this week so I didn’t just end up reposting bits from the week before like I did last week… ah, technology!)
I love @thebroadplace‘s posts – this regram (via @theholisticingredient) is typical of the type of direct-yet-thought-provoking stuff posted by Australians (now in the UK) Jac Lewis & Arran Russell. Jac’s regular letters, posted on Instagram several times a week, really dig deep into some challenging topics and I love the way The Broad Place use Insta to start bigger conversations.
1 Quote to Reflect On…
You probably know by now that I love a good quote to reflect on (just please don’t stick it up as a wall decal! Lol!), so to finish up here’s one I love this week:
“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”Lucille Ball
Next Week on Let’s Talk About Mental Health…
Next week’s topic will be Let’s Talk About… Taking Chances – I’ll be talking about the importance of taking calculated risks in life, and how to throw caution to the wind to make things happen for better mental health and wellbeing. Podcast and blog available Monday morning (Australian time). Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and others (see my Podcast page) as well as an audio-only version on YouTube.
A Quick Apology…
For some reason, half of last week’s Mental Health Talk newsletter reverted to the week two edition – sorry! Hopefully the problem has been fixed now. The lesson? Check your work multiple times before hitting publish!
Until Next Time…
Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and you haven’t already subscribed to Let’s Talk About Mental Health, please do so at the bottom of the page (or on any page of the website). Take care of yourself and remember: life is short, so make the most of it!
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Let’s Talk About Mental Health © 2019 Jeremy Godwin