As we strive through challenging times to live a ‘mentally healthy life,’ I want to highlight the evidence based Five Steps to Wellbeing that we as Dorset Mind Ambassadors, aim to embed in the volunteering that we do. And in particular the first important ‘step’ – Connecting.
I live and work on my own, so the very notion of ‘lockdown’ and the isolation that this brought, meant my primary focus was to protect my mental health. I suffered with a GAD about 6 years ago.
Your ‘mental health first aid kit’
I have always encouraged my family and friends to develop a ‘mental health first aid kit’ as we do for standard first aid kits, stashed in many a bathroom cabinet. Being able to share my Wellness Action Plan (WAP) with them, gave them a structured approach and clear ways to help my wellbeing.
One the key components of my WAP is to try and stay ‘connected.’ While I appreciate the solace of being in my own company, my sense of purpose and value to others is undoubtedly one of my ‘fundamental human needs’.
Connecting in lockdown
Being able to physically connect with others in the way I had pre-pandemic was proving to be ‘out of bounds.’ But I found an alternative route and that was connecting through campaigns. Participating in Dorset Mind’s June500 challenge gave the perfect opportunity to not only get out in nature and improve my physical health (step 2 is ‘Get Active’). I also felt connected to others, 99% of whom I’ve still never met, but that didn’t matter because ‘we’ linked via our common goal. Seeing everyone’s posts shared on social media meant I was connected, even if it was only virtually, to a online community. And I also shared my journey with them. The same can be said of the subsequent Step Up Challenge – and the extended Move Your Mind campaign which is based on the Five Ways.
I appreciate that ‘activity’ based campaigns are not for everyone, but there are alternative campaigns that you could consider to help you feel connected to your wider community. It’ll also give you a general feeling of motivation and purpose.
Other ways to support your community
Why not follow Dorset Mind’s social media pages or support us for free in other areas? Such as creating a Blog or Vlog to share your story, like mine. Choose a topic of your own linked to mental health and it will be shared to inspire people and let them know they’re not on their own. Another idea would be to share the self-care resources that Dorset Mind has. You, your friends and family may find useful to help them to live a ‘mentally healthy life’.
Being an ambassador and volunteering for Dorset Mind has not only given me a sense of purpose, but has connected me to a group of like-minded people. We’re yet to all meet in person. But connecting with them has been a major factor in me able to live a healthier life, physically and mentally – and to feel connected to my local community.
Huge thanks to our guest blogger and Dorset Mind Ambassador Sarah Hopkins. We recruited Sarah to our team through her participating in the June 500. Sarah’s social media posts were funny and honest – we knew her lived experience would inspire others.
Volunteer for Us
If you’ve regular time to spare – why not join us as a volunteer? We have opportunities across all areas of the charity. We’re currently looking for volunteer befrienders, admin assistants and people that can regularly check-in with young people. If this sounds like something you might enjoy – check out our volunteer vacancies here.