by Helen Tester, Wellbeing coordinator at Pharmacist Support – the independent charity for pharmacists, trainees and MPharm students.
11-17th May marks Mental Health Awareness Week – a time to reflect on and help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. According to an ONS study one in four of us will suffer from a mental health illness at some point in our lives. If this is the case how can we stay mentally healthy?
Back in May 2013 I joined the team at Pharmacist Support to work on their new wellbeing service. At the time the charity had received a generous legacy from a pharmacist keen to see his gift used to help those in the profession deal with stress and were about to begin trialling a series of wellbeing workshops. Since then I have done a lot of research around this subject area and into how we can improve our mental health. I’ve learnt a great deal about the techniques available, and have enjoyed trying a lot of them out in the process!
My two favourite techniques (also popular with attendees) are challenging the thought process through a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy based technique and Mindfulness. Mindfulness is about focusing on the present not looking back and not worrying about the future. We can’t change the past and the future – well that’s yet to happen. This approach helps me eliminate some of the pressure I feel building up during busy and stressful periods, focusing on the current task rather than becoming overwhelmed by upcoming events. Sometimes after a busy day at work I will sit on the train and not do anything – just look out of the window and take notice of what I see and enjoy being in the moment.
We all know stressful times are unavoidable but what this past couple of years has taught me is that following any stressful event it is important to allow yourself a recovery period – some time to be a little easier on yourself and to do things you enjoy. Through working on our wellbeing workshops I have learnt the value of adopting a positive attitude. This concept is not new to me, it’s what got me to the top of Kilimanjaro a few years ago!
Every workshop starts with a ‘joy of the day’ where attendees are encouraged to share something positive from their day. The ripple of excitement this brings is proof of the value of looking at the positives and being thankful for them. There are many tips and techniques you can use to help you stay mentally healthy – I could go on… and on, believe me! But it’s about finding the ones that work for you personally. So for now I shall leave you with a quote from the great philosopher, Epictetus: ‘People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them’ and encourage you to try out one of our wellbeing workshops for yourself!
For further information on Pharmacist Support and its new wellbeing service visit here.