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I love the fact that at Fresh Air Fridays we explore Space and Celebration in December. Whilst many people can see the celebration side, quite often the ‘space’ bit seems completely unrealistic, “nice in theory for those people that have time, but they don’t have the stuff I have to deal with!” Your Beliefs Matter I love this sentiment, attributed to Ghandi, ‘when I have too much to do I meditate for twice as long’. At the end of my morning yoga practice, there is a breathing exercise that I find helpful. Very occasionally, the thought flits through my mind that I don’t have time for it today. The exercise takes about 90 seconds. Irrespective of the benefits of the exercise, starting the day with the belief that I can’t take 90 seconds for myself doesn’t serve me. Find the Space in your mind I’m reading a gem of a book at the moment called ‘The Five Invitations’ written by a Zen Buddhist, Frank Ostaseski. Frank has spent most of his life running a hospice and the book shares five lessons he has learned from spending 30 years with people at the end of their lives. His 4th invitation is to “find a place of rest in the middle of everything”. I experienced exactly this recently. A good friend of mine, Andy Bradley, had asked me to write a testimonial for him. I was sitting on a busy train with a group of enthusiastic people and it was noisy. For a moment I thought, “this isn’t the time or place to write this”, but then I pictured Andy, who... read more

I have a confession…

I know the importance of looking after my physical and mental health and support others in making time to do this for themselves.  Yet I’ve just spent a week feeling proper poorly with a cold.  Without doubt, this is the consequence of a particularly stressful and difficult few weeks for me and some of the most important people in my life.

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The importance of teams…

Throughout October our Fresh Air Fridays community is talking about ‘Team’ because, as the saying goes: ‘No (wo)man is an island’.

Here are just some of the reasons we cover this topic.

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Creatures of habit…

On our Fresh Air Fridays’ sessions this month the theme we’re exploring is habits. It’s not just about the things we do though, it’s also about our thinking habits.

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Mental Health Awareness Week – a personal story

Our founder, Ruth Steggles, shares her story about the encounter with mental illness that led to awareness and, eventually, the creation of Fresh Air Fridays.

On Easter morning 2010, our beautiful daughter broke off one small square of Easter egg, ate it and declared she was full!

That was the moment our lives changed.

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Time to talk – a personal experience

I’m in the doctor’s and he’s given me the prescription for what I’ve come in for. As I get ready to leave he says, “is there anything else, because you look like you’re about to burst into tears?” I start to cry and I can’t stop.

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The daily commute and the part perception plays…

The daily commute and the part perception plays…

Since I’ve been working in an office again, for the first time in nearly 20 years , I have deliberately tried not to learn the train times, knowing that they run at least every 20 minutes during the day.

Over time though, I’ve got to know the times and, the other day, found myself rushing to get a train which, when it arrived, had half the usual number of carriages and was completely full. Some of the people on the platform were obviously very frustrated and I could see that this was going to have an impact on their whole day.

I found myself thinking “that was a bit of a waste of time” before noticing a man standing and looking the other way.

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Create Your Life through Planning

Create your life through planning

I consider myself a free spirit. I don’t like to be told anything and I like a bit of spontaneity. Over the years I have read a whole load of business books about goal setting and planning and have noticed a certain resistance in myself.

Recently though, I’ve invested in a ‘self journal’, which divides my day into half-hour slots. There was a time this would have left me terrified but, having heard how someone else had used it to overcome their struggles, together with an understanding that I could do whatever I wanted, I took the leap.

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Letting go of Control – 5/5 ways to good mental Health

One in four of us is going to suffer some sort of mental episode in our lives, for many people this comes from going over and over something in their mind, more often than not these these ruminations are about things that are completely out of their control. Recognising what is out of our control and learning strategies to let go of those things and then realising what we can control and taking responsibility for those, ultimately makes us happier.

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Support, community and personal growth!

One of the major reasons that Fresh Air Fridays was created was to create a safe space for individuals to be supported in their own self development. Whenever Rose, myself or one of our facilitators leads a session we see how mutually supportive our members are and how the outdoor space and the themes we explore create a way in which all of us get real clarity on things that are important to us. I feel exceptionally privileged to be part of this, none more so than over the last week.

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The Value of Sharing

How good are you at sharing with your work colleagues or team? What about at home? We had a training day for our facilitators this week and what really hit home for Rose and I was the value of sharing. As a matter of course on our sessions and our trainings we review what has happened for people since our last meeting and we actively encourage people to share their experience. On this occasion someone was sharing their experience, but she couldn’t quite pin it down. When someone else spoke about what happened to them, the first person had a big Ah ha moment.

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Do you feel like an imposter?

I have always been a fairly loud out there kind of person, I suspect other people see me as confident and possibly even “sorted” whatever that means, but just like many people I have spent my life waiting for someone to “find me out!”. I have been reminded about this recently as I have been reading Amy Cuddy’s book “Presence” and I would particularly recommend you looking up her TED talk.

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Connection 4 of 5 Ways to better mental health

Glancing at the Newspaper headlines this morning seeing another shooting somewhere, I found myself reflecting as to how much pain so many people are in.  If that gunman felt truly connected then I don’t believe this would have happened. When we are seen and heard by others we feel so much better about ourselves, we feel less pain and have no need then to express that pain in unpleasant or self – destructive ways. The power of connection can change individual’s communities and countries.

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Get outside! – 3 of 5 ways to better mental health

I observe people rushing form their concrete box in their metal boxes, to more concrete boxes, where they spend all day looking at electronic boxes and rush back to their concrete box where they watch another electronic box. What I notice when I take a group of people out from their office and stand them under a tree is a complete state change.  Their shoulders relax and a weight seems to lift.

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