Be kind to yourself, first and foremost.
If you can't be kind to others, re-read from the start.


I was very late to the mental health party. My friends and family would rarely talk about mental health. It was almost like a taboo topic, a weakness. However, because it's not as obvious as physical health, it's sometimes a lot harder to pin down too. If we eat takeaways every night, we get fat. We then diet, and get fit again (sometimes). Anyway, if we try and have a balanced diet with the occasional takeaway, there's no need to diet. Our mental health is the same. If we overload our brains with information, it doesn't get fatter, it gets more stressed. However, if we feed our brains a balanced diet of information and calm, there's less chance of stress.


I use google calendar for long term stuff, birthdays and things which repeat every year. For the day to day stuff I like to print out a weekly planner on a Sunday evening, and fill out my week as I intend to spend it. The calendar does not include work, and is used to plan any activities before and after work instead. It has been a great motivational tool and even discourages a cheeky lie in if I've got to go for a run in the rain (for example). Don't be too hard on yourself and only set things which are achievable... overwhelming the calendar will mean you'll less likely use it. Find a balance, and you'll be productive again in no time.


I enjoy my own space, it helps me recharge. This is something that is really quite obvious now, yet not so obvious back some years ago. So, instead of overloading myself with work and life admin to the point of, well, breaking, I now take a step back. To keep myself mentally and physically focused I make sure to get out of the house as much as I can. A brief walk, jog or cycle is the best way to clear the head, something I now stick to religiously. I feel that this time is essential to keep on top of my day to day, keeping my mind decluttered and clear of all the nonsense our brains absorb. However, too much space can turn you into a hermit.


As important as it is to have my own space, keeping in touch with my friends and family is hugely important too. It's nice to touch base every now and then, by whatever means necessary. I'm very lucky to be married to someone who believes in me, inspires me and brings out the best in me. Checking in on a regular basis means that we are able to better understand one another's concerns or problems. It also gets you out of your own head too, which is essential in expanding your thoughts and beliefs. Making time to do activities together that are unrelated to work or our personal schedules also helps.


It's important to also know your boundaries. As great as it is to say yes to everything and everyone, don't feel bad for saying no. We only have so much capacity, and overloading can have a detrimental effect. A good example of this is being able to separate your work life and your personal life. When your working day is over, learning to switch off from it, and spend this time on your own ventures. Also, when it's date night for example, it's ok to switch your phone on silent and spend that quality time with your loved one. My phone is always on silent, but I think you know what I'm trying to say.


When Dad passed away a couple of years ago, a realisation hit me. The realisation that we are only here once, we only get one life, couldn't have been made clearer at this point in my life. Days merge into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. Life is never going to slow down and no one will speak to you once you are gone. I think it's best to speak up now, whilst we have the breath. We have a responsibility to not waste the life we are given. If I am ever caught out feeling sorry for myself I hear Dad say, 'hands off yer c*ck, feet in yer socks', and away I go with a little cheeky smile.