We know that solid mental health – as with any other aspect of wellbeing – isn’t an instant fix, but rather a practice, often arising from long-term dedication to small, daily rituals that create grounding, positivity and connection.
At Moving Ahead we’re fortunate to have – within our core team as well as among our speakers, consultants and subject matter experts – extraordinary people with extraordinary mental health experiences and expertise. Together they’ve won Olympic medals, coached Olympic athletes, worked in war zones, founded companies, burned out and recovered, and turned their passion for wellbeing into meaningful work. They are athletes and yogis, meditators and nature lovers, and – so it seems – resolute morning people.
To celebrate Time to Talk Day, we asked them to talk about the daily mental health practices that keep them positive and performing at their best, and were delighted to notice some common themes. Here, in their own words, they talk about the power of exercise, the greatness of gratitude, and the daily delight of walking a dog.
Cath Bishop, Olympic medallist, diplomat and resilience expert
‘I exercise as much as I can. Sometimes that’s a long row or a run; sometimes a brisk walk instead of public transport. I listen to music I love at points during the day, and I try to be present. My kids are a great reminder of the fun and connection that comes from being in the present with people you love.’
Lizzy Nichol, Wellbeing research, design and delivery lead
‘My early morning, non-negotiable, all-weather dog walk transformed my mental wellbeing and became the cornerstone to my daily practice. As an athlete-turned-yoga teacher and health coach, I also love movement and pranayama (breathing exercises), and I don’t think you can underestimate the effect of truly nourishing food on mental health.
Kate Howlett, Head of transition, career coach and mindfulness expert
‘I look forward to my session of mindfulness meditation every day and wouldn’t miss it. It gives a more efficient mind, so doesn’t take time – it creates time. I know from all the published research that it will give me strength of mind and good all-round health.’
Kate Goodger, Olympic performance psychologist
‘My daily practice is about how I start my day. I used to get up early and get into emails; now I read. I find it nourishes my mind and gives me new things to consider and reflect on. I think about all the things I am grateful for and use this to give me perspective and energy. My routine also involves dog walks!
Clare Robinson, Ambassador for leadership wellbeing, Moving Ahead and Women Ahead
‘I do a morning mindful walk, some stretching and yoga moves, breath work and then a loving kindness or similar meditation. I call it my ‘Daily five to thrive’ – things that keep me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy. It helps me cultivate higher levels of thinking and connection with others, and means I’m less reactive.’
Beth Stallwood, Head of Programmes and cultural development
‘I love to surround myself with things that make me smile – anything from a nice notepad to pictures of family and friends having a good time.’
Liz Dimmock, Founder and CEO of Moving Ahead and Women Ahead
As for my own daily mental health practice – it’s definitely a moment with my dog Pickle, getting fresh air on a dog walk. Each morning before getting out of bed I also take a moment to acknowledge and consider three things I am grateful for each day.’
Time to Talk Day 2019 is takes place on Thursday 7 February. However you do it, make a conversation about mental health https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/time-talk-day