Mental Health Awareness: Look up at the Sky

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day and the theme is “making mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority”. 

What is mental health?

“Everyone has mental health. It involves our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.”

Most often, when we discuss this topic, we talk about it in the context of people who are experiencing problems. 

“Mental health problems are difficult experiences that make it harder for us to get on with our lives.  They include the painful feelings and thoughts that we all have at times – including periods of sadness, hopelessness and fear.”

Why should we all talk about our mental wellbeing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis for mental health.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the first year of the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide.

More recently, increases in the cost of living are also having a significant impact on mental health.  Research by the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) shows that 66% of therapists reported that their clients are anxious about whether they can afford to pay household bills.  Findings also show that other mental health issues, such as insomnia, have worsened as individuals lose sleep over their money worries. 

Uncertainty is often the main source of stress and anxiety.  We cannot control global phenomena such as pandemics and energy crises.  But we can equip ourselves to ensure that we are looking after our mental wellbeing during this time. 

Women’s mental health and wellbeing

Obviously, mental wellbeing is important for all – regardless of gender.  However, at Becoming, we are on a mission to help women lead unapologetic lives.  So we were shocked to learn that: 

What can we do look after our mental wellbeing?

There are many things we can all do to keep our minds (and bodies) healthy.  We can exercise, eat well, sleep more, spend time with friends, and more. 

But today, we wanted to share one small, actionable tool, that you can use at any time.  It might become part of your routine.  Or it might just be useful at key moments.  But it can help you to keep things in perspective, remain centred and in the moment, and to look after your mental wellbeing.

Wherever you are, stop reading for one moment and do one thing:

Look up at the sky.

What can you see?  Clouds, birds, planes, rain…?  Can you see the sky itself?

Let us explain…

From time to time we all experience unwanted thoughts and feelings. They can feel painful and overwhelming.  They can make it hard to do the things we enjoy, want or need to do, in order to maintain our mental and physical health.

Looking up at the sky sounds simple, but it can be a powerful tool for regaining perspective during times when our thoughts and feelings take over. Consider the following metaphor:

Imagine you are like the sky. And your thoughts and feelings are like the weather. The weather changes continuously, but no matter how bad it gets, it cannot harm the sky. Even the mightiest thunderstorm, the most turbulent hurricane, the most severe blizzard, cannot harm the sky. Like the sky you can observe your thoughts and feelings like they’re just weather, they may drift in, they may drift out, they may look very serious, but you can make room for them, you can notice them. And no matter how bad the weather, the sky is still there.

(For a fuller explanation and to help visualise the metaphor, check out this video)

Mental health and wellbeing is a complex topic, that sometimes requires complex answers.  However, sometimes, little things make a big difference. So, next time you start to feel overwhelmed by your thoughts and feelings, pause for a moment, look up, and imagine that you are the sky. 

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