Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week

May 13th to 19th is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. The purpose of Mental Health Awareness Week is to start conversations about mental health to reduce stigma, help people get the support they need and to save lives.  

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week, I will be posting a blog and 15 minute activity to improve your wellbeing every day this week. So you get an extra six wellbeing activities this week! I hope these activities improve your wellbeing and encourage you to have healthy, meaningful conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

Reflection rather than rumination

As we learnt from the first reflection blog post, the ability to learn from past events can improve our current and future wellbeing. Taking time to reflect can:

Often, when we feel low, we may ruminate which is bad for our wellbeing. Repeatedly focusing on problems or negative events we’ve experienced can lead to increased depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Today’s activity therefore encourages us to reflect on the positives rather than ruminate, even when we have a bad day.

Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day

Alice Morse Earle

Today’s activity was inspired by the quote above – one of my favourites which I come back to time and again. When you’ve had a bad day, or things are getting you down, it’s important to remember that good things do still happen and that we should not give up.

On days when it all feels a bit too much, reflecting on positive events (no matter how small) can help us feel better about ourselves and maintain our wellbeing.

Whether you’ve had a good, bad or a somewhere in-between kind of day, spend 15 minutes reflecting on three good things that have happened. When you do have a bad day, try repeating this exercise to keep your spirits up and remind yourself that there is something good in every day.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

Check back here (and@15minwellbeing on Instagram and twitter) tomorrow for the next wellbeing activity as part of Mental Health Awareness Week!


Write a rhyme to help you feel fine

Poem by Ms Moem http://msmoem.com/tag/rhyming-poem/

Today is World Poetry Day, celebrating poetry in all its forms. From a couplet to a haiku, limerick or sonnet, poetry helps us express our thoughts, feelings and life experiences. As proclaimed by the United Nations, poetry has the unique ability to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

This week’s post uses World Poetry Day to introduce the seventh and final theme that can improve your wellbeing – creativity. Creativity – or being creative – is the use of our imagination or original ideas to create something. Here at 15 minute wellbeing, the focus is not on being artistic or creating a masterpiece, but absorbing ourselves in an activity that can stimulate our senses and temporarily help us forget about our problems.

Theme 7: Creativity

Creativity is a key part of being human and can help us grow as individuals, groups and societies. Being creative stimulates the whole brain: when we do something creative, the left logical side and right emotional side of our brains work together and develop our thinking skills. This in turn, improves our problem solving skills. Continued creativity can help us practice these new problem solving skills and help us become more resilient.

Participating in creative activities can improve wellbeing and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress in those of us affected by mental health issues. Creative activities can also improve our:

  • Communication skills
  • Stress management
  • Connections with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Health management
  • Self-confidence

Despite all these benefits, some people find engaging in creative activities stressful, particularly the pressure to complete an artistic task to a set standard. If we don’t have confidence in our artistic abilities or creative writing skills, the thought of doing something creative may not be so appealing. However, we could think of creativity as a muscle that needs strengthening – the more we practice it, the more confidence we will have. Over time, 15 minute wellbeing will provide different activities that can exercise and nourish our creativity.

There are many ways to be creative – drawing, painting, singing and dancing (among others) – all of which will be featured in the blog in the future. As today is world poetry day, we are going to write a poem. Not just any poem, a rhyming one!

Why is poetry good for our wellbeing?

Practising poetry can contribute to improved wellbeing. It has been shown to be a useful therapeutic tool for people with a variety of mental health issues.  Poetry can positively influence our:

  • Social relationships
  • Emotions
  • Sense of purpose in life
  • Personal accomplishments

Having a sense of achievement or personal accomplishment can result in a positive spiral. Achievement builds motivation and confidence, which then encourages us to take more positive risks and new challenges to achieve some more.

Poetry can help us make sense of the world and reflect on our experiences – which we already know from the last blog is good for our wellbeing. Writing poetry about stressful and/or negative life experiences can help us process emotions such as loss, anger and frustration.

When we become absorbed in writing (or reading) a poem, it blends in with our thoughts and imagination to rearrange our priorities: immersion in poetry can temporarily suspend feelings of anxiety, boredom or stress. The focus of this task (and all future creative tasks) is to absorb ourselves in the process of creating something new. There will be no marking or rating in any of the 15 minute wellbeing creative activities. The aim is to gain a sense of achievement and improve our wellbeing by creating something.

Today’s activity is writing a rhyming poem. You can write your poem about any topic and it can be of any length, it just needs to rhyme! If you’re stuck for what to write about, use one of the following topics for inspiration:

  • Something that has happened in your day
  • The plot of a film or TV show you watched recently
  • A friend, family member or pet

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If you enjoy writing a rhyming poem, or feel that the process of writing poetry has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your poem and/or your story!

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date. As this week’s post is about poetry, I will also be sharing poems and rhymes over the next week.


How do we know what’s good for our wellbeing?

There’s so much focus on self-improvement these days – making changes to our lives to improve our performance, our physical health and mastering new skills. It’s generally straightforward to tell what helps us improve in these areas:

  • Testing new time management techniques to meet our targets at work
  • Increasing the amount of exercise we do to increase our physical fitness
  • Regular practice to learn a new skill

But how do we know what is and isn’t good for our wellbeing? We all lead busy lives so it’s hard to tell what is good for us and what might be having a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.

Having an insight into our thoughts, feelings and behaviours can improve our wellbeing. We gain this insight through the process of reflection. If we can identify what is good and bad for our wellbeing, we can make the changes we need to improve and maintain our wellbeing.

Theme 6: Reflection

Reflection builds on last week’s theme of mindfulness, as it also involves recognising our thoughts and feelings. Focusing our attention on ourselves can help with our personal growth and wellbeing – reflection consolidates learning from our experiences and enables us to apply this learning to new situations.

What is reflection? Self-reflection is the process of focusing on ourselves and increasing our awareness of our thoughts and feelings. Having an insight into how we think, feel and are motivated is key to our psychological health. Taking time to reflect can reduce anxiety, improve motivation and help us plan for the future.

It is important to understand that reflection focuses on learning from past events to improve our current and future wellbeing. It isn’t rumination – repeatedly focusing on negative events or problems that we’ve experienced without finding ways to overcome them. Rumination is linked with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Rather than ruminating, the activities in this theme will encourage us to reflect upon setbacks and challenge with the aim of overcoming them in the future. Reflection is all about practice and as we progress through the blog, more tasks and techniques will be provided to help you reflect.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Why reflection is good for our wellbeing

Taking the time to reflect can help us:

Through the process of reflection, we can identify imbalances in our feelings and personal needs. Once these have been identified, we can make changes and choices that address them. This process of reflection and behaviour change has been shown to improve our wellbeing.

Reflection can increase our ability to learn – which we already know is good for our wellbeing. Additionally, the relationship between reflection and wellbeing works both ways – positive self-beliefs can lead us to evaluate ourselves positively.

Image by Avi Chomotovski from Pixabay

The onus on improving our wellbeing is ultimately on us. Taking 15 minutes to reflect can help us figure out what we need more and less of to improve our mental and physical health.

This week’s task gets you to reflect on the people, places and things that are good and bad for our wellbeing. Every day we interact with other people and the exchanges we have with others can have a huge impact on our mood and overall wellbeing. The environments we live, work and socialise in can affect how we feel about ourselves. The things we do and activities we engage in can also influence our health and wellbeing. This week’s activity worksheet includes some examples to help you reflect on what’s good and bad for your wellbeing.

Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.

If reflecting on people, places and things has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your story!

I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.