Over the years I have come to realise that I am very good at helping and supporting others with their wellbeing. At times, this has been to the detriment of my own.
Wellbeing to me means asking myself, “do I have balance in both my physical and mental health?” and “am I giving myself the best chance to thrive and flourish in my daily life?”, and when things go off kilter, “do I know what to do to?” and “who to call on?”
My wellbeing toolkit
Over the years I have developed my own mental and physical health toolkit to dig around in and find what works for me. I try my best to look after my wellbeing by taking time to ‘check in’ with myself daily, although sometimes I still forget! The five ways to wellbeing are my best quick check list, if something doesn’t feel right with my mental health.
For example, one of the ways is learn, and knowledge has been key to me in maintaining good mental health. Understanding and learning what CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) is and how it can help me to cope with my high levels of anxiety is a great comfort. The techniques that I learnt are there for me to draw on whenever needs be.
I learned that some of my anxious feelings that I was experiencing, at very challenging times, were simply my body’s normal response to fear, and that keeping up with my daily routine of walking (get active is another of the five ways to wellbeing) helps me to get out in the fresh air, process my thoughts and feelings, rationalise them, thus giving me space to move forward instead of feeling trapped.
Physical and mental wellbeing
Sport has always been a big part of my life, and so when injury and age started to take its toll, it meant I could no longer compete like I did before. I had to find an activity that could fill that void and help maintain good physical and mental health. My GP suggested cycling, “Really, isn’t that what children do I replied?”
However, he had sparked my curiosity and so I visited my local Halfords, (other shops are available) I purchased a basic hybrid bike and did a few laps around the block. It had been 30 years since I’d last ridden, and it was scary at first; however, like all changes in life, once I’d broken it down into smaller steps and got the help of a trusted friend, I soon started clocking up the miles and I’d found my new passion.
I’m still very slow and like to cycle on my own, so that I can stop and start and go where I want. I don’t go for all the expensive Lycra, but padded shorts are a must for me – and of course I make sure I’m safe, wear my helmet, check my tyres and set off with a well charged phone, water bottle and snacks. If I’m going off for a few hours, I’ll also text one of my friends to let them know.
A final note
As I write this blog, I am sat at home recovering from Covid, isolating but knowing that Connell (why doesn’t your bike have a name?) and cycling have been my mental health saviours, as it ticks all five of the steps to wellbeing for me.
Connect – I meet new people out and about and have lifelong friends from challenges I’ve completed.
Learn – I had to learn how to ride my bike with the best technique to avoid injuring myself.
Active – It stands to reason that any miles on a bike are better than no miles at all.
Notice – Taking notice has been the biggest plus of cycling, being out in nature and seeing things I would never see in my car, like the best place to pick blackberries!
Give – I’ve signed up to several fund-raising challenges on my bike including a 500km ride in India for charity.
What would your five ways to wellbeing be to help you maintain your good mental health?
Please support our work
Dorset Mind is a self-funded local charity that helps people in Dorset experiencing mental health problems access the vital support they need. The charity is at the very heart of our communities shaping futures, changing and in some cases literally saving lives.