This week I’ll be talking about 5 simple steps to a happier life through mental well being using the acronym ALIVE.
We have designated Mental Health Awareness Weeks every year. In Europe it’s in May, in North America it’s usually the end of September into October. World suicide prevention day is on the 10th September every year. 1 in 5 people across the world suffer from some form of mental illness. It’s a topic that we need to talk more about. We need to eliminate the stigma about mental illness and talking about it is a great way to start.
I first came across the 5 A Day for good mental health system when I was attending stress classes run by Glasgow’s STEPS program, now called Well Being Glasgow. In that 6 evening course it was raised and presented as part of the class and detailed the books that accompanied it. Later on I went on to volunteer with the course leader Dr Jim White on media matters. The 5 a day system had made a great impact on me but as I questioned him on it I couldn’t recall them all. At that time. Neither could he. It was some weeks later when I traveled with my brothers to Moniaive in Dumfrieshire to attend my Aunt Jean’s funeral, that my brothers and I came up with the acronym ALIVE to remember the system. If anyone ever wonders where this episode was born, it was there in that car, and this podcast is my first effort to get it out there.
Before I go into my own interpretation for this let’s talk about 5 A DAY FOR MENTAL WELLBEING. It was borne of a European Union survey on mental health which for the life of me I’ve never been able to track down. Now this 5 a day system is touted everywhere, and quite rightly as it’s a brilliant and effective system.
It consists of 5 elements.
Connect - Connect with the people around you: Your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
• Put five minutes aside to ask someone how they are
• Arrange to meet up with friends that you haven’t seen in a while
• Join a local group or club and meet new people in your community
Be active - You don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Play Pokémon Go! Find the activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life.
• Go for a short walk at lunchtime
• Discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits you
Keep learning - Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
• Sign up for a class and learn something new
• Rediscover an old interest, such as cooking or gardening
• Take on a new challenge to make or fix something
Give to others / or Volunteer (your time)
• Even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you, or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
• Volunteer your time for a cause you are passionate about
• Spend time with someone who you know has been having a difficult time
Take notice - Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness,” and it can positively change the way you feel about life, and how you approach challenges.
• Set aside time to practise mindfulness or take up yoga
• Take notice of how your friends or colleagues are feeling
• Spend time outdoors, enjoy the fresh air and notice what’s around you
So these are quite simple steps which we should all be aware of, but how do we easily remember them.
My system uses the appropriate acronym ALIVE.
• A - Stay active, keep moving every day.
• L – look about, observe the world about you, watch a sunset, smell a flower,
• I – Interact with others, get out of the house,
• V – volunteer your time, you don’t need to start a podcast, just help someone with the little things like lifting their shopping, mowing a lawn, or just lifting up the phone
• E – Educate – Keep learning – that is the key to your future. Try Udemy or listen to more podcasts. Keep that brain active and keen.
If a specialist doctor couldn’t remember these off the top of his head then I can assure you that we need this. It’s my gift to the world. Take it – fly with it – spread the word. Just telling people about this will make you feel much better about your own troubles. It’s a great conversation starter and it really helps those in need. Productivity is as much about gaining a happier, healthier life as it is about getting more done. Having poor mental health is as sure to stop you working as anything else.
“When your mind is in a dark place it is difficult not to think in shadows.” ― Charlie Hasler, Words From An Unlikely Poet
With one in five people suffering this means it is likely that you or someone in your immediate family or someone you work with is struggling with their mental health. Can you image them having to deal with that stigma? A stigma that causes people in need of help to keep it to themselves! Dealing with mental illness is extremely hard on it’s own, doing so in silence makes it that much harder.
CALL TO ACTION
This weeks call to action is - if you know someone with a mental health concern, reach out and talk to them. Let them know that while you may not understand what they are feeling, you are there for them and are supportive of them. Share this podcast, or the ALIVE acronym to help get the conversation started. There will be a full transcript on the website.
I want you to memorise the ALIVE acronym and talk about it often and keep spreading the word.
Thanks again for listening and for giving me your time. I’d like to thank Doctor Jim White and the STEPS team in Glasgow for helping me in my own struggles and I dedicate this episode to my old friend and creative colleague Keith Munro who we lost some years ago.
Next episode I’ll be talking about PERFECTIONISM and how it can be applied to our work in the creative industries.
For now though, take control of your own destiny, silence those negative thoughts, keep on shootin’ and join me NEXT TIME on Film Pro Productivity.
· The music for this podcast is Adventures by A Himitsu.
· You can view the show notes for this episode at filmproproductivity.com/episode4
· If you’re struggling with something you think I can help with or would like to tell me how you are getting on then please get in touch via the contact page on the website. Alternately you can get me on Twitter @fight_director or follow the show @filmproprodpod
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Thanks: A Himitsu, Stephen Rowan, Dave Bullis Podcast, Podcraft.
Main Photographs taken on the Giordano UK shoot by Bryan Larkin.
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