Paving The Way For Support

Recently, I was a guest at Leeds Drawing Club for their last ‘Creative Social’ of 2018 as a speaker discussing all things Keep Real. It was absolutely wonderful to get involved with the folk who attended, and share my story on why Keep Real exists, and what we are currently doing to support more people in the community when it comes to mental health.

It’s always great to open out to a Q&A towards the end, and receive feedback on how we can create more interventions about mental health. One guest asked if I thought Keep Real’s way of business could be the future for mental health support. What a wonderful idea! We have some great events coming up, you can take a look here

In light of it being World Mental Health Day, I wanted to reveal some of my recent favourites when it comes to self care. Here’s my Top 3, which I hope you can take away with you and share.

  • Fiona Thomas: As well as being a mental health writer and author, Fiona utilises her creative talent into developing supportive materials such as the You Got This Zine duo. The ‘You Got This: A Motivational Zine’ is aimed at folk who struggle with depression, and shares her story, as well as others about how to get stuff done through the hard times. She explains what ‘being kind to yourself’ really means and opens up the conversation with Jana Dowling, Rachael Watson and Amy Holland. There’s also the ‘You Got This: A Feel-Good Zine’ where Fiona open up her soul and shares her thoughts on anxiety, feeling ‘meh’ and how creativity can support your wellbeing. The work she has produced hits every note and candidly discusses dealing with mental health issues, and the day to day struggles we all feel.

I feel like more zines and sweet materials like this can just break it down in your own home. It doesn’t feel clinical, it shares the struggles we can all relate to and it embodies the small things we forget. Like how sometimes we don’t want to shower or clean or take care of our selves. We sometimes lose that, and the work by Fiona Thomas ties up all those loose strings we feel we can’t hold onto, and ties it all nicely into these pages. I’m so excited for her book launch ‘Depression in a Digital Age’ (Pre-order here!)

  • Podcasts. Oh man. So I was a podcast hype for a while this time last year, but I lost myself within them and couldn’t find the right fit. When it comes to hearing people talking for a long time, some didn’t appeal to my tiny ears as much as I’d have liked. However, some of my favourites are the pivotal Russell Brand ‘Under The Skin’– there’s a great episode called ‘Mental Health Crisis: Is Community The Answer?’ (Listen here). I go into podcasts with an open mind and I also LOVE ‘Made of Human with Sofie Hagen‘. She covers a range of topics, discussing this with amazing people from comedians, journalists to bloggers. It’s one of my favourites this year because it collates so many wonderful topics all in one, not just mental health but feminism, how to adult, LGBTQ issues, #MeToo and more.
  • Home is Where The Heart Is. Since moving back home in June this year, I found myself twisting into old ways from when I used to visit home during my University years. That means leaving clothes everywhere, leaving mess everywhere, cups EVERYWHERE (gal loves a brew) and all the things in-between not pitching in. But lately after leaving my job, I’ve been learning to respect my surroundings more. I’m not perfect, but I know why I get so distracted and leave things everywhere. It’s an extension of myself. My bedroom is my happy calm place. It’s small, but it brings in a lot of light, is fresh with plants (and copious amounts of books) and I feel like I can relax there. When my space is messy, I feel messy, unproductive and no schedule. So with World Mental Health Day, take a look at your room/house/flat and see if keeping it tidy/clean supports you.
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What Is “Self Care?”: A Guide For Trying To Keep It Real

So many of you lovely lot know I run Keep Real®  and with that comes a fair few things. Such as responsibility, creativity, management and hmmm I’m gonna say…self care. Yes! I said self care!! Whoa…Did I really just say that?


I did. A lot of folk won’t state that or *gasp* even mention it as something that comes with their life, business or whatever else. For example, entrepreneurs- our little metaphorical ent-baby needs to grow and flourish, but it will get sick or needs to learn how to walk, we don’t actually put ourselves in the equation. We love it, so self-care is just…non existent. It’s non existent for many! We just wanna keep the ball rolling. As long as it’s moving, its…doing something.

So what is this “self care” thing anyway? Let me break some things down for you…

  • SELF CARE IS NOT SELF INDULGENCE – Let’s get that little myth solved, mkay? It isn’t ‘retail therapy’ and sure as heck isn’t finishing off a full bottle of wine. These are temporary fixes. In a world that wants you to consume more…you gotta stick it to the man and just do yo’ thang.
  • SELF CARE IS A GENTLE BUT TOUGH MISTRESS – It ain’t always plain sailing. Self care can actually be real hard to do. When we’re so fast paced and overwhelmed- we feel that we actually can’t slow down. Self care comes in many forms. It may be going to bed an hour or two earlier, or going for a long walk. Not a walk to work, not rushing to be somewhere. Just a w a l k . Nothing more. It can be hard to do things for ourselves, but we need to learn to slow down a lil’.
  • SELF CARE DOES NOT COME FROM OTHERS – Sorry sweetpea, but self care doesn’t come from any other human being, doggo or your favourite cuddly toy. Self care has to come from you and you alone. Sure, other folk will support you- but there’s a reason why it’s called ‘self’ care and not ‘other people care’. Try not to focus on relying on other people for that comfort. Self means self, so soothe that soul. Pick up a musical instrument or pen (even if you’re terrible at music or art), create something, make a pinterest board or ‘life board’ of your goals and things you have achieved, take a bath and moisturise! Anything for you, that you can do by yourself is self care. The most important relationship you have, is with yourself.

So, treat yourself how you would treat someone you hold dear. You deserve to take a break. I still need to remind myself that too (Oh hi blog, you naughty reminder you) – because we can’t burn out and expect a quick restart. Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t work harder, just work smarter. And that starts with self care.
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SOC-ENT Part 3: Mental Health Workshops begin!

What’s going on Kim, I hear you say? A lot…as always!

So a lot of you folk know about Keep Real, I’m so humbled to announce the beginning of mental health workshops for the social enterprise!! The first workshop will be in Sheffield as part of the CIC Golddigger Trust for ‘Girls Day’ (you can grab tickets over on their website).

I ran a workshop the previous year, however I’ll be officially running Keep Real’s first workshop for mental health. It will see the yet-to-be-launched colouring books (…have I said too much?) in full swing. I can’t wait to see what the girls think of them! Then they’ll be launching with the new merch in the next couple of months.

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A year on from launching the business officially online, this year is for growth and learning. I think the hardest part is to know what direction to go in. My advisor asked me an extremely inspiring question the other day, “Do you want your business to be big…or do you want it to be deep?”. In simpler terms, do I want to create social change in the community and directly be part of every workshop, making sure that Keep Real is providing qualitative feedback on mental health…or do I want it to be something incredibly huge and part of the wider UK, but without the personal touch?

As much as I’d love Keep Real to support the wider community, being a ‘deep’ social enterprise aligns with what I want currently. I want it to make a difference to young mental health in the community- and at the moment exploring those options on how to do that. Such as the mental health workshop with secondary school girls in Sheffield, and the live event in July.

Next week will begin the process of looking at various directions of growth for the business, and ways in which it can reach a wider audience. I can’t wait to see where it goes!

What do you want to see of from Keep Real?

 

 

3 Lil’ Tips for Staying Well

Staying well this March, here’s 3 lil’ tips to keep you going. You got this! You can do it!

Connect with other folk. Whether this be online or having a conversation. I know myself how hard it can be to tell your friends or family about how you feel. But let’s be honest here, doesn’t it feel good to tell people what’s on your mind now and then? Have a cup of coffee (wpid-img_20151022_220531.jpgor a virtual mug of tumblr tea), sit yourself down and ask those around you how they feel. Sharing things that are troubling you- is solving the problem little by little. Sometimes we over share, but do what feels comfortable. Sharing is caring, as they say!

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Read a kick ass quote. We aaalllll love a good quote. They’re a catch, reminding us of all the good stuff we sometimes forget to think about. It also allows us to see things differently, or with a completely new perspective that may, fingers crossed, give us hope or provide a sense of relief. But the wonderful thing is, these quotes are the fundamental tools to staying well. We lose ourselves in the daily grind, in the busy lives we lead and in the tasks at hand. Who has time to read a quote? Well, you know what, you do.

Challenge your sweet self! Now this one isn’t as tough as it sounds. You gotta be kind to yourself, and real gentle. But howwpid-img_20150923_165211.jpg about picking up a book that is completely out of your normal reading habits and
see how it goes? I was given a book recommendation by a dear friend which I am now reading called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘. It’s not any of those things by the way, but it’s a motivational book. Never would have picked it up in a million years by my own choice! I’m persevering, and reaping the benefits. Or perhaps you could listen to music you’ve never really thought about giving a go. You may just enjoy it, and surprise yourself! I suggest Spotify. Type in a genre or an artist you already like, and it will recommend artists or bands that or perhaps something you’d wanna check out. Go give it a go! Challenge your interests!

Stay well folks, and keep real xx

Our Wellbeing & Our Product Choices

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Being mindful of our choices as people can truly help us feel that little bit better in ourselves. I hear the term ‘conscious living’ being brought up- and it’s a wonderful thing to see. Hearing of living a slower, more conscious way of life is something I have definitely focused on this last year, more so than ever. So  how does it all tie in?

So for starters…

Wellbeing is, as a definition:

The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.

There’s a lot that wellbeing is influenced by. From our mental health, what we eat, who we surround ourselves with, to what we purchase throughout our lives. Wellbeing is something we try to cultivate and maintain.

We all know that our clothes and things we buy reflect our personalities, and the essence of who we are as people. Why are we drawn to certain things? Some would say that we are attracted to specific clothes, products and objects based on our needs. Christian Jarrett from The Psychologist stated that ‘How much we see our things as an extension of ourselves, may depend in part in how confident we feel about who we are.’

So, what we’re truly saying is that it all comes from within, right? To truly see our clothes, objects, products as an extension of our inner souls, all depends on how we feel about our complete selves in the first place. We need to take a step back and reflect on our values too. Are you drawn to certain brands that reflect your personality? Or is it because it’s quick and easy to buy?

For me, I like to use products that reflect my passion for sustainability, and giving back to the Earth. Personally, I’m extremely passionate about wellbeing and taking care of our bodies. This goes from my brand choice for skincare (The Bodyshop, 70% Vegan, 100% Vegetarian, All natural ingredients, Cruelty Free, commitment of ‘Enrich Not Exploit’), to cruelty free make-up (Barry M Cosmetics and Sleek here in the UK) and my clothing choices too (going more second hand, vintage or apps like Shpock, DePop and Ebay). I believe that when I purchase something, it makes me more confident in myself by making mindful choices. My clothes are lasting longer, the personal care products I use make me feel amazing knowing they’re giving back, and I know my clothes are made from people with fairer wages, who aren’t exploited in the hard work they do.

When buying products, clothes or anything just be that little bit more mindful. If brands are doing wonderful things for others and the planet- then contributing to that can make us feel super lovely. Just by doing this, you’re making a difference- to other people, the planet and most importantly…yourself.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

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10 Ways Back To The Light

Hey folks, I wanted to share with you an article I found on Psychologies by Jamie Rhodes author of ‘Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music’ (purchase here)4e39e58e38bdf17dbffc00a175afaa34, and Matt Haig, author of ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ (purchase here) about the top ten strategies that helped them through the more difficult times. These are wonderful, and I hope they help you too! (read it down below, or in the original article here) ❤

10 Ways Back To The Light

James Rhodes says:

Breathe – 10 minutes of meditation a day works wonderrs.

Make a cuppa “I’d somehow got enough clarity and self-awareness to know that I was able now to do all I could to get well… It was terrifying and exciting all at once. Time maybe to have a cup of tea and listen to Chopin’s greatest nocturne – the one in C minor Op. 48/1.

Talk to anyone friendly. “I like talking to strangers. I read a book about depression once where the protagonist was so lonely she used to join queues simply for the human interaction. And while things weren’t quite that bad yet, I did at times strike up conversations with people.

Do something creative (piano/writing for me, but there is an almost infinite choice for everyone) “Forgiveness and meditation, reading and writing, talking and sharing all help, creativity is, for me, one of the most profound ways through trauma.”

Find some perspective. Remember you’re a microscopic dot hurtling around the universe on a tiny planet in the middle of an unfathomable amount of space.

Matt Haig says:

Slow down. “Anxiety runs your mind at fastforward rather than normal ‘play’ speed, so addressing that issue of mental ‘pace’ might not be easy. But it works.”

Go for a run and then do yoga (the golden bullet for my anxiety) “I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert. It’s great, because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.”

Get off the internet. “I might – if I am going through a neurotic patch – do a quick ego search, or check out any new Goodreads or Amazon reviews of my books or go on Google and type in a list of real or imaginary ailments to see which terminal disease I am currently suffering from.

Talk to people you love. “Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.

Stare at the sky. “Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.”

3 Simple Steps to Improved Mental Health

Sometimes we overlook the small things that can make a difference to our wellbeing. We try radical ways to see if something big can change the course of our thoughts and c27b72ab524503258c478790d691b27bfeelings. However,  sometimes all we need to do is try take a step back, and see what tiny things we can do to feel a little better. Here’s my Top 3 things to consider and perhaps note down. As always, be gentle with yourself!

You can also check out my previous post on 5 Ways of Coping with the bad days too.

 

So.. here’s my 3 Simples Steps!

  1. Write it down– I chose this as the top simple step. I know folk love their phones and reminders on their laptops, but we forget that writing is very cathartic. Pickthebrain.com stated that ‘When you can place your emotional difficulties into a piece of writing, there is a great sense of “letting go” that can help you “right” yourself in your world again’. You don’t have to write a massive paragraph and it doesn’t even have to make sense, even if its just a few words that sum up your day. Remember, it’s your notebook/diary/journal. You can write whatever you wish in it. For me personally, it really helps me break down how I feel and keep a track of99e5363a41321d08650266084d34aa65what’s been going on.
  2. Drink Water – Silly right? But yes, this is the simplest step. Our bodies are made up of up to 60% water. It’s a vital nutrient for our wellbeing and we tend to not drink that much H20. It regulates our body temperature, helps to keep skin healthy and does all sorts of cool things for us. We can get a certain amount of water from what we eat, but keeping hydrated is key to wellbeing. Try not to
    consume too much caffeinated drinks, as these can increase heart rate and can make you feel restless/jittery. And we don’t want that do we! Try green tea with lemon, or just soft drinks without all that sugary/sweetener in. Put some fresh fruit in your water for flavour, like lemon, strawberries, blueberries…anything! Mix it up! Here is Shapes’ tips for making water taste less boring. ❤
  3. Breathe – We all find it hard to just take a step back from our day. We’ve got deadlines, we’ve got work, we just haven’t got time to sit and be one with ourselves. But trust me, you do have time. You should always have time for you- even if you only allow yourself 5-10 minutes. Here’s my favourite Mindful techniques to Reduce Stress. Just noticing what you are doing, even when you’re eating or having a break. Enjoy it! Breaaatthhheee. The 3 steps to mindful breathing are >  Choose a “down” time: on the train in the shower, making breakfast. Shift your focus to your breathing and pick a single aspect to focus on: the rising and falling of your chest or the sensation in your nose. Spend at least five minutes in this state of awareness; when your mind wanders, gently direct it back to your breath.

We forget to breathe, drink and do a bit of writing to process our thoughts. These little things can make us feel just that little bit better in ourselves. ❤ take care of yourself, and if you have any questions please feel free to email me kimmykeepreal@gmail.com

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

Body Image, Teens and the Internet #wellnesswednesday

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 18.44.01I took the Trusted Clothes quiz on body image concerning young girls and I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know. Girls are more concerned about being called ‘fat’ than losing their parents, nuclear war or failing at school. How!? What??! There is also an increasing rate of boys with self esteem issues with the rise of social media. Every time I clicked on an answer, I couldn’t stop shaking my head. I can’t believe this is the world we live in. Then it got me thinking…and researching.

I wrote a very similar post before about Body Image. How the internet is a pivotal connection for those who are in need of guidance, but can be a place detrimental to a young person’s health. We as adults use the internet a little more wisely (or can be argued not as much!), however- for young people this isn’t necessarily a tool of communication. It’s comparison at the touch of a button or scroll.

Only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.

In researching, I started off by simply googling the term ‘body image’. There are plenty of useful websites out there, first with Planned Parenthood. The only downfall of these vital searches, the layout and content of these sites are, in all honesty, not user friendly. It’s extremely clinical, and not active for young people. The content is so sooooo useful, but the website’s appearance lets it down. We need to see an improvement of web content for young people in order for them to feel like they have access to the information they need.

According to do something.org, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Then why, as social media usage has risen, are we not creating supportive and informative content that is marketed towards that age group? Pew Research Centre said a staggering 71% of teens use more than one social network site, with teenage girls using social media sites — particularly visually-oriented ones — for sharing more than their male counterparts do. Why are we not looking at the research and creating accessible and visually appealing content for young people regarding mental health issues and body image? The top websites in the search bar I have been on in relation to body image and self esteem feels clinical, awkward to use and without a connection to the audience.

The research is super mind blowing regarding adults too, the British Social Attitudes conducted a survey in 2014, three-quarters (77%) of adults think that society puts too much pressure on females to have a sexualised appearance, half of all adults (47%) think that ‘how you look affects what you can achieve in life’, and one-third (32%) agree with the statement ‘your value as a person depends on how you look’.

But things are looking up. 
There are such INCREDIBLE organisations out there doing amazing things for young people. We need to address these existing issues, and with wonderful non-profit organisations (some I’ve had the super sweet pleasure of working with) like Heads Together, Welsh based Heads Above The Waves, The Golddigger Trust from Sheffield and the almighty Young Minds rallying for change- we can see these figures drop significantly. Support the non-profits that are in your local area. Mental health awareness is on the rise, and we need to stand together. Let’s make social media an accessible place for young people to help them grow positively.

The best way out is always through – Robert Frost

My Top 5: Ways of Coping with the Bad Days

Now, a lot of people have a wonderful variety of coping strategies with the days that are just that little bit harder to get through. When I did some research for my degree- there’s a lot of different healthy ways we find that suits us due to our personality traits and personal preferences. For example, folk who are naturally creative love to use art in different mediums to feel better and in others they use music, physical exercise or experiencing the outdoors. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.31.50

As long as your coping strategy is not harmful to you or others, and you can feel better by exploring your coping strategies in a safe and healthy way- then there is no wrong way of doing it. You’re doing what is best for you my lovely!  Mind have a wonderful section on their site about self-care which I extremely recommend on checking out.

Here are my personal Top 5 that I feel help me the most, and perhaps they can help you too! Be gentle with yourself ❤

  1. Ecotherapy – otherwise known as the great green outdoors. Spending time away from distractions, the city life or just by getting out of the house into a natural environment can be so helpful. It is quite a mindful experience, and for me it clears my head. I’m very thankful to live in Yorkshire, and living right next to the woods. Find your place and go there as often as you can. Be one with nature and enjoy it.
  2. Reading – now this doesn’t have to be books on self-help or mindfulness, but a genre or type of book you really enjoy. Love a bit of adventure? Get your Tolkien game on! Like a bit of a classic? Flick through a good Jane Austen! Whatever floats your boat, give it a read. But I will say, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing this for you, remember! Some books with graphic content may be triggering to your wellbeing. My favourite book for the past year has been ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. As a naturally creative person, and I feel I’m having a block/ bad day- I read her book and her prose.
  3. Playing an instrument – I know some folk don’t have musical instruments, but this is one of my personal favourites. I was fortunate enough to be given a classical guitar by my Mum’s friends years and yeaaarrss ago that I still have. You somehow get lost in it, and its just the combination of making sound and feeling the movements. If you don’t have access to anything like that, my next coping strategy is…
  4. Listening to music – Boy can music change your soul. Whatever clicks with you and makes you feel good give it a listen. Pop your headphones on, lay back and shut off the world. You can listen to your favourites/most played or go for super funny songs like ‘I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Sunshine’ by Natasha Bedingfield or the Flashdance Soundtrack (soooooo groovy)
  5. Art- This encompasses everything to scribbles, writing, doodles and full blown commissions for me. It gets me in a nice groove that I can focus on. Controlling the way the pencil moves, or shading in something can be a very mindful experience. Allowing yourself to get lost in it, and only think of what you are creating really helps me get in a good headspace. Also, I write a hell of a lot  when I feel down. I’ve kept a diary for years that I always tend to look back on. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel, so I write whatever is going on in my lil brain down. It’s very cathartic, even if its just in bullet points of things that are bothering me. It also allows me to check in with myself and see what’s affecting me, or what I could highlight as something that needs to change.

 

I hope my Top 5 may help, or perhaps gently give you the smallest ideas of ways to cope. From knitting to running or reading and playing monopoly, there’s so many healthy ways of coping with the bad days.

You are not alone. You are here, and you are enough.

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week!

Hi there folks. Hope you are all doing well! Here in the UK, it’s mental health awareness week. Already on the news bright and early this morning there were speakers and wonderful content on mental health- and a highlight of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge starting the ‘Heads Together‘ campaign aiming to end the stigma surrounding mental health. mhaw-tile-relationships

It’s just as important as physical health, and it affects each and every one of us. In my opinion, I feel we’re making progress. Maybe that’s because I’m actively doing things surrounding wellbeing and mental health, but a lot of organisations, non profits, charities, as well as some amazing individuals are starting to speak up and fight for better MH education in schools, as well as fund their mission to break the stigma and provide support. It’s truly amazing to see, and that means we are reaching more people of all ages about taking care of ourselves and each other.

Know that you are not alone, my sweet. We as people are always going to have good and bad days. We’re not happy all of the time and for some of us, that can be a challenging thought. We always think people have it better off, but in fact its just not the case. We’ve all got something that gets us down, and sometimes we don’t know why we feel so upset.

Check out the helplines on my site and take a peep at what they’re up to this week for Mental Health Awareness. I’ll be doing more posts for MHA week about what I find good for ways of coping with the bad days, plus more about how our wellbeing affects us in such diverse ways.

Be gentle with yourself, and as always – keep real! ❤ ❤

p.s if you’d like to have a chat in a confidential manner, do not hesitate to email me at kimmykeepreal@gmail.com