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.
Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 18.55.57

Noticing When You’re Struggling

Sometimes, when we’re battling through and going about our every day activities, our struggles can slip under and go undetected. So how do we know when we are struggling?
If you are struggling, please do reach out. Take a peep at the care lines available here.

We all manage stress and situational factors differently, this is just part of our human make up. Some folk can breeze through stressful parts of their life; others may be unable to cope so well. However we all battle stress, so be gentle and keep an eye on how you’re feeling.

For me personally, I can plod along just fine; even feeling a sense of calm. But there is a point where my sense of level headedness will shift and I ask myself when I’ll feel that break in my brain. I’ve noticed more so than ever before, that I can bottle up my stress and have 2 or 3 days where I feel completely overwhelmed. I cry, I cannot control or manage my thoughts and have to let myself feel everything all at once. Other days it can be waking up with a mind cloaked in sadness. But I know it’s ok, and you have to sit with sadness and let it go on it’s way.

17308790_10206844635354254_2646944760814781165_n

So how do you notice?

  • Feeling more tired than usual. Be aware during the winter months you will feel more lethargic than usual. I know I feel that at the moment with the days becoming shorter with longer nights. But if it’s been happening for more than a couple of weeks- take note. Be kind to yourself, get your 8 hours in and reach out.
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things. I being someone who has felt like that/ does feel like this time to time. Some days are so much harder than others. But if it’s affecting your work, tasks that are usually part of your routine that you don’t feel you can do (for example, taking a shower, making food for yourself)- this is when you need to gently step back on how you are doing.
  • Not wanting to do things you would normally enjoy. Are you taking time out to enjoy what you normally put your spare hours into? That could be just seeing your parents, going out to see friends or reading a book, playing music etc. It could be anything that you would normally never second guess as something you enjoy. However, if you’re finding that you are not enjoying what you used to- can be a sign that you are struggling.
  • Feeling like you don’t want to talk to anyone. I have had days like this, when on an average day I’ll be extremely outgoing and talking to people – then others where I don’t even want to talk to a loved one, or come into contact with any one at all. There are even days where I can’t even articulate how I feel. There are just no words, no language that can explain what’s going on in my head. This is when you need to see your behaviours as a sign that you’re having a bad day and not coping. Of course there are days you don’t have to talk to anyone, but if it’s persistent- this can be a sign you are struggling.

Please know you are not alone. Reaching out to people you feel safe to discuss how you feel is something so important. Loved ones want to help you, no matter the situation ❤

How do you notice you are struggling? Are there any tips you have to know?

 

Interview with the Award-Winning Golddigger Trust

Ok folks, I am loving the fact I’ve been receiving messages and some of y’all got on my twitter poll to do more mental health tips. It’s all in the pipeline, so keep your sweet eyes peeled! But first…big news.

Today, my business Keep Real headed to Sheffield to film an interview with a wonderful award-winning organisation called The Golddigger Trust who are just…I have no words. Just incredible! I’ve admired this bunch of lovely folk for a while, and to be asked to collab with them via my brand was just great…and to interview them was just, well, greater. A big whole experience of inspiration. They do AMAZING work for young people (their tagline Unearthing Value, Transforming Lives is just so flippin wonderful) doing courses, projects, mentoring with girls and guys concerning self esteem. Golddigger Kimberley snap

We headed over to their offices and asked them a load of questions about the work they do, what inspires them and what’s coming up for them this year. It turns out they’ve got some incredible things that they’re working on (which you can find out for yourselves in the video we’ll be putting up soon!)

What I can tell you, is that th
ey’re aiming to raise funds for their Golddigger Trust Centre For Young People. They have said that ‘As the Trust has grown, we have long held a vision for creating our own ‘centre for young people’, somewhere that they can feel at home, and from where our award winning work can expand across the city and the UK.’

How amazing!? They need as much help as they can get, and would love for so many folk to get involved with what they’re trying to do.Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 20.24.55

These people are so inspiring, and continue to inspire so many young people every single day. Please check out their campaign here and fundraise or donate to their cause here. These guys deserve so much recognition and I am humbled to have interviewed them. Having had a really sweet talk about my business, what they’re getting up to and what we could potentially do together is just beautiful. I cannot wait to share with you what we’ve done and tell you more about the trust!

Sending all my love ❤

 

Interview with Si from Heads Above The Waves

Hey folks! Hope this post finds you well!  To start off a great week and all that Monday Motivation, I had the pleasure of interviewing Si from Heads Above The Waves, a non profit organisation providing hope and help full-logofor people who are struggling with self harm. I loved how I reached out to Si a while back, as he found me through my post over on Rethink Mental Illness, and messaged
me on Instagram. I truly look forward to seeing HATW improving mental wellness and providing a place to talk openly about mental health too. Big things to come!

1) So, for those who don’t know- what is Heads Above The Waves?

Heads Above The Waves is a non-profit organisation that raises awareness of self-harm in young people, promoting creative and positive ways of dealing with the bad days.
We talk openly about self-harm and depression.
We sell merch with a message behind the designs to help get people talking.
We run workshops to give people the chance to find what works for them.
We create content to let people know that hope and help exist.

2) Where did the name of your company come from?

I think Heads Above The Waves is quite simply a summary of what the whole ethos is – life is all about figuring out the best way to keep your head up and stay afloat amidst whatever waves life might be throwing your way. I think the name might’ve also come from me mis-hearing the opening of ‘Mike Kennedy is a Bad Friend’ by The Wonder Years.

3) Who is Heads Above The Waves aimed at?

HATW is mainly aimed at young people aged 11 – 25 who are struggling to cope, but really, I believe that a positive message that hope and help are out there for you can apply to anyone. Personally, I think there’s enough negative stuff on social media – which pretty much everyone is on these days – so it can be a nice break to see something positive as you’re scrolling through your feed.
tumblr_inline_nbotl7VmKT1rd9kb0

4) What inspired you to start HATW?

Heads Above The Waves essentially came about from me wanting to share my story and experience of how music helped pull me out of depression and self-harm. The goal really was to let other people know that it can, and does, get better. For me, it was specifically finding pop-punk music, and the positive message in a lot of the lyrics, as well as actually playing the drums.
But Heads Above The Waves is all about finding what works for you and accepting that one size doesn’t fit all. Not everyone plays the drums; not everyone makes music. But everyone’s got something that they do that helps keep them positive, regardless of whether they’re struggling with self-harm or some other battle. The more people I spoke to about it, the more I found that different people with different experiences, cope in different ways, so I wanted to build a collection of these experiences as well as positive things that I’ve drawn inspiration from to share with people, so that anyone can be inspired.
Heads Above The Waves is all about finding what works for you and accepting that one size doesn’t fit all.”

5) Tell me a little bit more about why you chose to raise awareness in mental health.

From my personal experience, I found that a lot of stuff out there talking about mental health was either quite cold and clinical or a bit childish and condescending – I wanted to make something that could speak to young people on their level. I’ve got this silly, and grammatically awful saying that I keep coming back to: everyone is people.
We’re all human beings, trying to figure out how to live life and cope when the odds get stacked against us – however big or small that may be. Even if you’ve never experienced a full blown issue with your mental wellbeing, you still know how much it sucks to feel sad. My main aim is to help everyone find what works for them to pick themselves up when they fall down, as well as trying to encourage an atmosphere of people helping other people out.

6) Do you have any tips on keeping mentally healthy? 

It’s obviously going to be different for everyone, but I’ve got a couple of things that I do to try and keep myself on top of things.

I write lists – lists of stuff I need to get done (seriously, it’s so satisfying to cross stuff off a to-do list) – lists of things that are going wrong and what I can do about them – lists of just generally what’s going on with my life (my office is covered in post-it notes). It helps me keep visual track of what’s going on, and stops everything going too wild in my brain.

I also play drums – practising repetitive rhythms is actually really good for distracting me and focussing my brain. Plus if I’m getting worked up and angry, I thrash out on a drum set and it helps.. but probably not so good for relations with the neighbours.
And something that I struggle with but I’m trying to get better at is actually giving myself some ‘me time’. Even if that’s just an hour in the evening to play some PlayStation or have a bath. Sometimes you need to shut off from other things that are going on, and not worry about being around other people or being productive – and most importantly not feeling guilty for taking time to yourself.
That’s just a couple bits that work for me, but what’s most important is to keep on trying out different things until you find what works for you.

 

“My main aim is to help everyone find what works for them to pick themselves up when they fall down, as well as trying to encourage an atmosphere of people helping other people out”

7) What is your favourite aspect of running your own business?

D’you know what’s funny? I’ve got some friends who run their own businesses, and they’ve always been the types who have wanted to run their own businesses – but I haven’t. I think ‘entrepreneurship’ kinda fell on me. I always assumed I’d come out of uni and get a ‘real’ job and just live out a typical suburban life. Yet, here we are. So the best bit for me, is probably the fact that most days are a little bit different and new and unknown. It’s exciting. It’s also utterly terrifying. But I think that the best of you can come out when you’re outside of your comfort zone, so I keep on pushing myself and learning new things pretty much daily.

8) What are your plans for HATW in the future?

Really the plan for HATW is to grow and spread and impact and hopefully make a difference to even more people. We’ve got our new site launching, we’re sharing a range of ways of coping through social media, we’re branching out and running workshops in even more schools. So the main hope for 2016 and beyond is that HATW can become a more practically useful resource to help people find their way of coping with the bad days.
_________________________________________________________
Please go and check out Heads Above The Waves on their website, twitter & instagram.

Winter Blues – How To Beat It!

Hey folks! I hope this post finds you well! It’s been a week or so since my last post- but I have much planned to fill this blog up with some lil’ tips and posts full of mental wellness and motivation!

It’s mid November already! Can you believe it?! Most folk struggle more with their mental health (as well as physical too!) in the winter months. However, despite this ongoing problem that quite a lot of us experience, with a mild form of ‘winter blues’, some of us also experience SAD this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, or otherwise known as summertime sadness or seasonal depression) is a form of depression that here in the UK, is said to affect about 1 in 15 people. There are many forms of depression, which can find here on Rethink. Symptoms for SAD generally appear between September and November, and continue until March or April, when there may be a sudden burst of energy and activity wpid-img_20151022_220531.jpgaccompanying the longer, brighter spring and summer days. Symptoms can include lethargy, loss of concentration, sleep problems, anxiety and social problems (please find more information over at the Mental Health Foundation)

We all feel down now and then, but winter for some can be quite a difficult time, with or without a diagnosed mental health problem. We all have to take care of ourselves the best we can ❤ Here are 3 key tips to keep you going, and to cope with the longer days and colder nights
. Be safe folks, and stay well.

  1. Try get outside in the daylight if you can. Even if its that small lunch break at work, soak up as much natural daylight as possible. If not outside, sit near the windows if possible and chose colours in your room that are pale to reflect light from outside. ❤
  2. Keep warm. Wrap yourself up with all your jumpers, scarves and hats- like the warmest little burrito possible! Hot drinks and food will also fill that wonderful tummy up of yours. Whether that be hot chocolate, green tea, broths, soups- you name it! Eat up and stay snug.
  3. Stay active. I know it’s cold and very chilly on the bones- but you gotta move about! Whether that be running up and down the stairs a few times, doing yoga, going for a walk round your house, or doing some stretches. One hour’s walk in the middle of the day can be just as helpful as light treatment or therapy.

Hey, November!

Good morning everyone! Here we are…it’s November! Can you believe how fast this year is going?! To kick off the month, here are some mental health tips and pointers for November. Stay warm, feel good and take care ❤

  1. It’s getting cold – so wrap up! Although it’s fairly obvious to wrap up warm when the bitter cold comes, feeling cold, shivering and losing the comfortability of heat can leave folk feeling stressed, anxious and distracted. So wrap that lovely scarf around you, keep that noggin warm and get some gloves on. There isn’t anything more uncomfortable than not feeling your fingers and shivering outdoors. Keep warm folks, the cold can actually affect your mood.
  2. Comfy shoes, comfy thoughts. It does sound silly, but feeling comfortable in yourself does include the comfortability of your clothes, right down to what you wear on your feet. For example, would you feel ok walking in heels on an icy road? No, you wouldn’t! Footwear that grips to combat the frost, ice and squelchy ground will leave you feeling confident to go about your day. Do take care when the weather is turning! wpid-img_20151101_121932.jpg
  3. Get involved in the festivities! It doesn’t matter if you’re not into the whole Christmas thing and you would class yourself as a bit of a humbug, there’s nothing wrong with having some festive fuzz. It could be just walking around the high street and seeing the Christmas lights, or taking part in secret santa at the office. The festivities provide us with so much wonderful opportunities to talk to new people, support local causes and simply give. Being good to those around you, will come back to you in abundance ❤
  4. Reeellaaaxxxxx Christmas, specific to the run up of it, can be quite a stressful and manic time of year. Try some mindfulness (check out my mindful blog post hereto take every moment as it comes ❤ try not to overthink about presents and spending your well earned pennies on extravagant gifts. The most thoughtful gifts are the best ones.

As always, sending all my positive vibes to you- and keep real! x

I’m on BBC Radio 4 Tonight for Mental Health!

Hi folks! Here’s a quick reminder that I’ll be on the radio this evening at 9pm (GMT)! It’s for a new series of ‘All in the Mind’ for BBC Radio 4 with Claudia Hammond, which will be discussing teenage mental health here in the UK. There is increased awareness of mental health, as we have programmes talking about it a little bit more, however- there is a rise in teen mental health problems. Here’s the infographic for the programme this evening! cover170x170

As evidence accumulates that mental health problems are on the rise amongst adolescents, are services keeping up? Claudia Hammond is joined by a panel of experts to discuss teenage mental health.

Professor Shirley Reynolds, Dr Dickon Bevington, Kimberley Robinson and Sarah Hulyer discuss the pressures teenagers face and how the mental health of our adolescents is changing. They also offer thoughts on how services could be reshaped to cope with this changing demand and what parents can do to help their teenagers.

I talk about my experiences of mental health problems concerning anxiety and thoughts on what can be changed. I don’t want to give too much away! I’m so humbled to be part of the discussion, and on the flippin’ BBC!! It is so so important.

Here’s the link to the programme: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06kch0z

If you do miss it, you can download it as a podcast at 10pm or any time/day/week after. It will be available after the first broadcast, so please give it a listen! The repeat broadcast will be Wednesday at 3.30pm (GMT)

Sending all my good lil vibes to you, and as always – keep real! Let me know if you catch the programme and tell me what you think! ❤ x

3 Best Mental Wellness Apps

Happy Sunday folks! Hope you are enjoying yourself wherever you are! Today I thought to share with wpid-img_20151004_105008.jpgyou some of the apps I think are wonderful tools in staying well, as well as pick me ups when days aren’t so great.

Apps are wonderful little things you can get on your smartphone (presuming you have one!) that are usually free to download. I’ve selected ones that are free to use, so go ahead and get downloading!

So here’s my favourite mental wellness apps which I’ve downloaded. Please go check them out and let me know what you think!

  1. Headspace (FREE trial) – I cannot recommend this ap
    p enough. The first 10 steps are free, so plug in your headphones or set your phone down in front of you for some relaxation. Headspace
    is a beautiful app dedicated to mindfulness and relaxation techniques. It talks you through each step and it’s so soothing to listen to. If you’re 20150713-Headspace-logo
    struggling to get into the mindset of being mindful, this app is for you. It can be hard to get into the swing of meditating, but Headspace welcomes you with open arms and invites you to come back tomorrow on the app for another session. It’s calming and wonderful if you just need that little bit of guidance in getting that ten minutes out of your day.
  2. What’s Up? – It starts off by telling you some real interesting facts about mental health and saying ‘you are not alone’. First thoughts, it’s a definite yes. It’s lovely! It talks you through unnamedthe app and how to use it. It has different sections such as ‘Help Right Now’ ‘Coping Strategies’ and ‘Personal’ so if you’re on the go and feeling a bit stressed, the app is just the bees knees. For example, if you’re over-thinking- there’s a little game you can play that distracts you from your thoughts etc. You can also log in your thoughts and keep track of what’s going in that beautiful brain of yours. I can’t recommend enough, really.
  3. MoodTools – Depression Aid – This app, most importantly- isn’t just for folk with depression, it’s for everyone. There is a depression test you can take on the app, you can also record your mood, thoughts and emotions and do activities. For example, if you’re struggling to find something to do today- click activities and it will list a range of them for you to choose. Click one and see what activity it will give you for the day! It also asks for your mood before and after the activity to see how you’re feeling! This is a great app to organise your thoughts and challenge your thoughts and provide excellent help if you need it. A great aid is also the ‘Safety Plan’, which helps you note down important numbers, reasons to live and places for distraction if you feel you are in crisis. It also provides great numbers for hotlines if you feel you are in crisis, such as Samaritans, 999, Friends/Family as well as calling a Therapist of your choice. You can log all your important information in your iPhone6Whitesafety plan as and when you wish.

I hope you take a minute to download the apps and check them out. Taking the time to be kind to yourself, and having some of these wonderful tools at your fingertips could be the difference between a good and a bad day. Are there any apps that have helped you? Let me know!

As always, sending all my kimmykeepreal love to you! ❤

Why Talking about Mental Health is Mega Important

Mental health is still surrounded with that grey cloud of stigma and misunderstanding. I get it, but I cannot get my head around it either, it’s 2015! Just because you cannot see it, does not mean that it is not there. Plus, mental health effects everyone. So why doesn’t everyone talk about it?

It can be hard to start a conversation about mental health, sometimes you don’t really know what to say. It’s wired in our brains when we talk to someone to say ‘Hey! How are you?’, in which we automatically respond with ‘I’m ok thanks, how are you?’ and not really think about it. There is the misunderstanding around mental health problems too. For example, when I was doing my degree in Counselling- it would frustrate me noticing how some folk didn’t really understand or have knowledge related to depression and anxiety. Some would blurt out ‘So does depression mean that the person wants to kill themselves?’ and ‘Isn’t anxiety just worrying too much?’.

You don’t have to be an expert to talk about mental health. Whether you like it or not, mental health effects you and everyone you know too. You are actually the expert of your own mental health. It’s part of us just as much as physical health. We tell each other when we have a headache, heartburn or a broken leg- so why not talk about what else is going on for you too? It is not a weakness to talk about what you’re feeling or how you truly are. I am so ssssooo proud of anyone who talks about their own mental health! Have that conversation with someone you love, if you’ve got something on your mind- do not be afraid to talk about it!

As always, sending my love to all of y’all ❤ if you’d like to drop me an email at any point, please do so- I am always here to talk (my email is on my Contact page) ❤