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Taking Control by Dr Poppy Gibson

This short blog considers ways to take back control over things that can greatly affect your mental health and feelings of wellbeing.

Firstly, manage your workload. A big part of our mental health can rely on our work or caring responsibilities. If we are not able to take breaks from our work, we can be left feeling exhausted, drained, and without time for self care to rebuild ourselves. This pattern of working later, starting early, and failing to rest can lead to burnout, and our mental health may suffer as a result. The best way to manage our workload is to create to-do lists or consider creating a chart showing the priority of things we need to do. Accept that you may not be able to do everything. Consider which things on your to-do list are the most important and work through those first. Reflect upon whether some of the tasks you need to do could be delegated or shared with a colleague/friend/family member?

Secondly, cut toxic relationships. It is amazing the power that relationships with others can have on our personal wellbeing. When we interact with people who have negative things to say about us, or do not consider our feelings, it can leave us feeling like we are small or not worthy of love. If the toxic relationship or friendship in your life can be ended, consider whether as we embark on this new year if it is time to let go of that connection, at least for now perhaps. If it is a friend, family member or colleague who has toxic behaviours towards you, but someone you cannot remove from your network, ensure that you plan for selfcare moments after you interact with this person. For example, if the toxic relationship is with a parent, schedule in something nice after you visit them, such as picking up a coffee on your way home, or scheduling a book and bath for that evening to find some peace and reflection. Different strategies will work for different people, but essentially try to remember their behaviours are not about you, even though their actions or words may seem personally targeting. Consider whether this is the year you could make space to speak with this person about their behaviours and how they make you feel, and discuss how you can move on with the relationship in a more positive way.

Thirdly, seek help. Taking control is about taking steps, and sometimes we cannot always do these steps alone. But the good news is, you don’t have to be an island, particularly when it comes to mental health! Join networks, join social media groups, find a local community group, start a new hobby and find a group on Facebook that enjoy the same hobby. Sometimes it is the connections not specifically about mental health that can end up leave us feeling very supporting and surrounded by people who we can related to. But if you feel you are struggling and you need more than help from your network, consider whether a charity or an appointment with you GP may be necessary.

As Shy Bairnz say on their clothing, ‘Mental Health is Not a dirty Secret’. Talk about it.

Listen to others talk about it. And if you need help, take control and seek it.

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