“More than eight in ten (82 per cent) of UK adults have experienced stress because of the pandemic” (Mental Health Foundation, 2020).
Given the year we’ve had this was no great surprise for me to read but still, it really compounded in me that what we all need to keep moving forward, is to de-stress, to laugh, love and live a joy-filled 2021.
For #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, I thought I would write about what I do to keep a healthy mind. I can’t tell you what is good for you but I can tell you what is good for me, so here are my top 3 things to keep my mind healthy...
1. Embrace the outdoors: The theme for 2021’s Mental Health Awareness Week campaign is 'Nature', and personally I think a bit of time with nature & some exploring of the outdoors is the tonic we all need after being shut inside for so long. I’m a great believer in time spent outdoors being good for the mind, body and soul - which is lucky as I don’t seem to see much of the inside of our house at the moment! I don’t think there is anything more difficult for a workaholic (yes, I confess!) than to sit still and be in the moment so I try to challenge myself to ‘listen’ to nature at some point every day.
2. Be alone: This one isn’t for everyone but for me, in a household which often has 6 children who all need something from me, and a husband who needs help finding the socks he already has on his feet, sometimes I need to take 10 minutes to myself (ok I need to take more than 10 but 10 is all I can get hold of, for now) so... I try to hide (usually in the bathroom!) often enough that I can have some brain space to myself before I explode!
3. Work: This is a big one for me, I have always worked to keep mentally healthy. Not an easy task after children but still essential to stop me entering a low mood. Having a purpose and a feeling that I am contributing to my family keeps me happy. It’s a fine balance though, I’m currently trying to reign in my aspirations to something a little more manageable than the crazy amount of hours I’ve been pulling this spring.
But it all feels so worth it - one of the best compliments I’ve had since opening our visitor attraction in April this year is: “You can tell that you guys have children”. This may not sound like much, but it means a lot. It means that we have managed to create what we set out to - a place that enables families to feel relaxed and spend some quality time together and experience something new. I am amazed when I watch over the farm at weekends and see how peaceful it is, there is nothing but a sweet hum of noise coming from the visitor paddocks despite the number of children!
The Mental Health Foundation said that “Approximately 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health problems are parents”. I think I’ll be in awe of every family that arrives at the farm this year as they have conquered so much in the past 12 months - dear families, you are all resilient, amazing, superhumans!
Thank you to everyone who has visited us this year already and to those who haven’t - I look forward to meeting you all.
Get outdoors in 2021, mental health matters.