Larry’s mental health challenges

Last week at Home, we spoke frankly and openly about mental health in marketing. It was great to see so many Homies sharing their experiences, and really getting involved with Mental Health Awareness Week and what it aims to accomplish.

In addition to the fun activities we ran, we also had a series of challenges to take part in throughout the week, courtesy of our Digital Strategy Director, Lawrence. We found them fun at times, challenging at others, but definitely worth sharing. Below you can find the weeks’ worth of tasks to try out for yourself.

One: being honest about mental health.

A big part of mental health is being honest about how you feel. Purely positive thinking can result in you ignoring or pushing down negative feelings, which in turn allows the problem to fester and grow.

This quick quiz is a good way to start thinking about areas of your life that might be contributing to stress or worry – without getting too deep.

Write a list of these 7 areas of your life:
Friends and family
Personal development

In 30 seconds (or as quick as you can!), give each one of these a score out of 10 for how satisfied you are with that element of your life.

Are there any surprises? Are some lower or higher than you expected? Could you explain to someone why you scored as you have? And, have you or could you have any plans to improve these scores?

Two: find peace of mind

Many people start thinking about meditation when they feel stressed. Which is a bit like deciding to start the gym when you’re at your most unfit. Meditation doesn’t have to mean 15 minutes of Oms and deep breathing. It can be 60 seconds of calm to ‘get your head together’.

This challenge is a good way to start, with meditation that only lasts 60 seconds, it’s great for beginners. All you need to do is listen to 5 sounds. It works best in a quiet environment, but you can build up to practicing in noisy places.

1. Find a quiet(ish) space
2. Close your eyes
3. Pick out one sound and name it e.g. the fridge fan
4. Listen to that sound for 5 seconds
5. Keeping that sound in mind, pick out another and do the same again
6. Keep doing it until you have 5 sounds in your head
7. Listen for as long as you want to

How do you feel now? Take a minute to think about how you feel and whether your brain feels any clearer or more energised. Meditation is all about practice, so don’t feel frustrated if it doesn’t feel right the first time.

Three: unwind and energise your body

There’s a well-known connection between the body and the mind. We often think it’s mind over matter, but it can also be matter over mind. This interesting Ted Talk shows how your body language could shape how you behave.

Try these three steps designed to make your brain feel what your body does.
You might feel self-conscious doing some of these movements on your own in a busy room, so why not try these as a group or seek out somewhere a bit quieter.

Smile for 8 seconds.
This is supposed to tell your brain you’re happy and release chemicals that make you feel that way. For an extra authentic smile, press your tongue into your teeth when you try it.

Wonder Woman for 8 seconds.
Stand up with your chin up, legs apart and hands on your hips. Like Wonder Woman. This is designed to make you feel confident and happy.

Have good posture, always.
Sitting up straight will help you to breath properly and get rid of any niggling back and neck pains.

Four: picture your perfect

There’s some good research to show that visualisation, whether that’s practicing something or visualising your finish line, is a very effective way of achieving your goals, and that imaginary practice is almost as good as actual practice.

This challenge is a quick and easy way to create a vision of your objectives, to help you to avoid distractions and temporary temptations.

Map out your perfect day, including:

• How and when do you wake up?
• What’s for breakfast? Where do you eat it?
• How do you spend your morning? Who with?
• When, where and what do you have for lunch?
• What do you do in the afternoon? Who’s there?
• How do you go from afternoon to evening?
• When, where and what do have for dinner (aka tea)?
• How do you spend your evening? Who do you spend it with?
• When do you go to bed? Where? Are you alone?

Once you’ve pictured your perfect day, create a mood board with pictures from it. This could be on Pinterest, writing it in a book, cutting pictures out of magazines or painting a picture.

Five: get your breath back

This challenge is all about using your breathing to influence your feelings and your thoughts. By taking long, deep breaths – especially breathing out – you’re telling your mind and body that you are in a slow moving, safe space and guess what?.. It believes you!

Try these two techniques based on therapeutic breathing and yoga practices.

Powder Power
1. Imagine your desk is covered in a fine blue powder. Like icing sugar or chalk, it covers your whole desk.
2. From front to back, blow the powder off your desk until it is completely clear. Try long breaths that push the powder away.
3. These long breaths slow down your breathing and help to create a calm mindset.

Balloon Bodies
1. Imagine your body is one big balloon.
2. As you breathe in, the balloon expands, inflating until it is stretched, taught and round.
3. Let your breath out, and as you do, all the air leaves the balloon. The balloon goes floppy; your arms, shoulders and face all deflate.
4. Breathe in again to expand and inflate.
5. Breathe out to deflate and relax.
6. Try this 3 or 4 times.