Historically in British culture, talking about our emotions was often really frowned upon. But thankfully the tides have turned, and we are now talking about and exploring our feelings more than ever – this is a wonderful development.

This week we are proud to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week. Here at ICOM we celebrate our emotional selves. ICOM teacher and resident counselling and psychotherapy practitioner Juliette Willett gives us her five tips on how to increase our emotional health.

gardening for mental health1. Give your mind a rest

Busy lives, social media, looking after our homes and families along with the ever-changing world we live in can often leave our minds overworked. Activities that give our minds a rest from constant thinking are hugely beneficial to our mental health and provide a much-needed balance to support a healthy emotional self. Gardening, sewing, painting, or simply tidying up the space you live in are all great activities to try.

try something new2. Challenge yourself

Sometimes our lives can feel all too predictable and somewhat stale. Challenge is healthy, and by moving out of our usual comfort zones we can increase our confidence and feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Challenge doesn’t have to be huge – instead find an easy win. Go for a walk somewhere new, try a new flavour of tea, wear those clothes that sit in the back of your wardrobe, try a Zumba class, or paint a room a bright brilliant colour!

spend time with friends for mental wellbeing3. Put time into your relationships with those you love

As humans we are hardwired to seek the connection and company of others. Positive interactions with others significantly benefit our mental health. Nobody ever died wishing they had made more time for household chores, errands or work. Make time for meeting with friends, or to chat with your partner – simply starting with ‘how was your day?’.

mental health - be kind to yourself4. Give yourself permission to feel good!

Need a permission slip? Here it is. Yes, it is ok to feel good. Practice noticing when you feel happy. What do you notice in your body, how do you feel? How do you talk to yourself?

5. Make time for YOU

We can get so caught up in being there for others we end up falling off our own ‘to do’ list. Sit in a coffee shop and enjoy reading a book or magazine, join a class, go for a walk in nature, or just pop in your headphones and shut out the world whilst listening to your favourite feel good album.

Happy mental health awareness week.

Juliette Willett teachers on the Personal and Professional Development module at ICOM. She also offers counselling and psychotherapy at ICOM Clinic.

Visit Juliette’s website