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The Power of a Shed

The Power of a Shed

One good thing about Life under Lockdown is that it has become acceptable to talk about mental health. People can now see what mental health is all about in practice. Being cooped up indoors, not having much exercise, strange dreams and poor sleep, lack of ability to focus has made many people understand the need to take action. It has made people realise that having a routine is vital in maintaining good mental health, especially those who normally work in companies and have been laid off or furloughed. Many people suddenly feel powerless, without purpose, nothing to belong to, not even taking a familiar bus, train, or car journey to work each day. Yet learning the hard way is often the best way to learn anything.

For many years, I have delivered a minimum of eight talks per month to schools and companies. Sometimes more and in the holiday months less. Like other people, it has been tricky not to be going all over the country giving talks and to have so many cancellations and no new bookings each day. Yikes what about my self-esteem? Suddenly, I was having to remember to practice what I preached.

Good mental health is having the ability to cope. It is about acceptance and the ability to adapt to what is happening now.  It occurs when we are balanced and have perspective. To use the vernacular –  when we can pull back and watch the big wide screen.

The Power of a Shed

I have reconnected with old friends, composed eulogies for the two that have recently died, written a near daily gratitude list,  emptied the dishwasher, tried to take on any manual tasks going  and been lucky enough to play ping pong on a table outside.

But one of the most fun and rewarding things I have done during Lockdown is to record some slightly wacky, lateral, and off duty talks indirectly about mental health in my …shed ….to be known as RADIO SHED TALKS. Have posted a couple on Facebook and had a big thumbs up so far. Obviously, there are more relevant things like my new online talks, new book group workshops and other things but wanted to keep you all in the right now loop. Here’s to us all being Unlocked.

Mental Health Dashboard

William Tell Overture

Towards the end of my talk on mental health I always play the William Tell overture. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and most of the audience too. It just has that strident infectious quality (oops) that makes you feel good and want to keep going. Yet it must have been quite a challenge for William Tell’s son to keep calm with an apple balanced on his head waiting for his Dad to fire an arrow into it from a crossbow. Fortunately, it all turned out well on the day.

We are living through tricky times, so in order to cope and not let things get out of perspective we need to remember to do some basic things:

  • Keep your sense of balance in everything
  • Ensure your common sense and sense of humour are turned up to maximum
  • Prevention is far better than cure!
  • Check your mental health dials daily

Mental Health Dashboard

WAVING NOT DROWNING?

I have observed a strange error within the resilience section of my talk. The message I normally propagate is DON’T PANIC, KEEP SWIMMING. Well, having recently been caught in a rip current whilst swimming in Greece, I now realise that in this particular situation you certainly don’t want to panic and the worst thing you can do is to keep swimming against the current.

Although it may seem to be going against your instincts, the very best advice is to go allow yourself to float on your back and float to some form of safety. Cease struggling, go with the flow and ask for help.  Often this is the case with mental health.  You have to stop battling and trying to swim and instead, surrender and ask for help, not worry about what other people think. None of us like the idea of drowning none of us like the idea of getting into difficulties in the water. Yet how many of us would actually ask for help? How many of us would prefer to try to fight the battle ourselves and not attract attention? That is until it is nearly too late.

Being too embarrassed to shout for help whilst swimming can cost people their lives. Being too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help whilst struggling with mental health can also cost people their lives.

 

*This often-used expression is taken from a poem by Stevie Smith, published in 1957. For those interested in great writing, this is a superb poem about the human condition and a farsighted comment on mental health.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46479/not-waving-but-drowning

Here is a link to the practical advice if you ever do get caught in a rip current:

https://rnli.org/safety/know-the-risks/rip-currents

Oxford-Cambridge-MGAM

Actions speak louder than words

Actions speak louder than words

Here with the Oxford & Cambridge Coxs & Captains is Our Sponsor Jason Anthony, Founder & Managing Director of MGAM during the week and at weekends can be found on the River Thames as an RNLI volunteer. An example of someone whose ‘actions speak louder than words.’

Oxford-Cambridge-MGAM
Jeremy Thomas speaking with C3 Chief Executive Christine Hancock

Jeremy talks to C3’s Workplace Health Movement

On November 17, C3’s Workplace Health Movement welcomed Jeremy Thomas to talk about the importance of preventing mental health problems and providing employees with accessible information and education about good mental health in the workplace.

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Full Fabric

Interview with Full Fabric

Jeremy was interviewed by Full Fabric, a service dedicated to working with universities to improve the quality of the educational experience.

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Exam pressure? Try breathing!

Stress Busting Breathing Exercise

Sit up straight, (or stand or lie down).  Breathe out.

Breathe in deeply, and, at the same time, relax your belly muscles.  Feel as though your belly is filling with air.  You will feel your stomach pushing outwards.

After filling the belly, keep inhaling.  Fill up the middle of your chest.  Feel your chest and rib cage expand.

Hold the breath in for a moment, then begin to exhale as slowly as possible.

As the air is slowly let out, relax your chest and rib cage.  Begin to pull your belly in to force out the remaining breath.

Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.

Relax your face and body.

Clear your mind and let everything go.

Try to do this for 3-5 minutes.

This has an immediate effect – you will feel relaxed but alert and your mind will feel clear.  Remember – oxygen is life’s natural tranquiliser!

 

Informative, Entertaining Good Mental Health Talks

Missing jumbo jets, two million Syrian refugees living in tents, gladiatorial TV, the X Factor, the Y Factor, food banks, cyber bullying, addiction to social networks and the growing issue of loneliness – yes, the world is quite insane enough to deal with, let alone being a student dealing with the pressure of achieving straight A’s, perfect body image and trying to be the most popular kid on the block.

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Germanwings aeroplane

Beware the Lubitz Backlash

Everyone is rightly shocked and saddened by the tragic deaths of the 150 people on board the Germanwings flight last week. It is vital, however, that the actions of one man, Andreas Lubitz, do not distort the way in which mental illness is viewed.

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I had a black dog

I Had a Black Dog, His Name was Depression

Just over two years old, this animated video from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is still a thought-provoking and accurate reflection of many people’s daily struggle with depression.

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