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Mental Health Awareness.....What does it really mean to us all?

It's the week of the year for Raising Awareness on Mental Health.

What does this really mean to us?

How aware are you of your thoughts and actions?

Do you think before reacting?

Do you rethink your responses?

Maybe reacting differently would have had a better outcome?

Do you question yourself?

Or are you just too busy!! I get it, trust me, I've been there too.

I know what it's like and it is not a nice place to be in, especially for a long time. I have had people say, "wow you look really tired, are you ok?" And there I was at the point in time thinking I was feeling great!! So, I can't help but question my health again!

So how do you respond to that? You can either collapse and take it all as negative, or you can accept it and think that's just how they see you. But wow, you are amazing, look at what you've been through and are still here. Have a positive outlook.

When under immense pressure who in the right mind is thinking clearly.

Not eating or sleeping properly and running on empty and autopilot.

You are acting on survival instincts.

Making decisions on who to rescue first or what actions the crews should carry out to prevent the fire from escalating, in a short 5 seconds window is really putting your skills of reading a situation and possible outcomes to the test.

Assess and re-assess. We are all doing this constantly, but do we do it with intention?

Living in a heightened state of alert is not healthy. At some point, you have to let go and trust you are safe and you have to sleep to aid recovery for your physical and mental well being.

Senses overload will eventually cause a system crash.

So how do we start to grasp the concept of Mental Health?

Firstly by acknowledging where you are right now.

Journal it down. You may keep a chart of how many press-ups you do or how fast and far you've run. It's not that different. I am working on a journal that may help others. It will be available soon.

Everything takes time, including self-healing.

How you are feeling physically?

Where are you feeling fatigued or where are you holding onto anxiety?

Anxiety for me is always in my stomach and lower back. Your stomach is your engine. You need fuel to keep running.

I could eat the healthiest foods, but be in a terrible mental state dealing with so many issues that any goodness from the foods are wasted.

Are you exhausted in your mind and thoughts or body? Or is it the whole package?

After so many long sleepless nights and continual hours to make ends meet and provide for my 3 kids, I can relate to all of the above. A 100 plus hours a week is not healthy.

Who asks, " hi, how are you? Keeping busy?"

We try and own it like it's a good thing to be busy by saying how much we are doing.

For me now I am trying to do less and more on self-care.

If you keep going at crazy speeds and long hours, the wheels will fall off and you will crash.

Something had to change. I am more mentally aware now.

Aware of my surroundings and emotions and feelings within my body.

I have made time to sit and listen to what has come up.

I am now more mentally aware of others too. If they are giving off vibes or energy not compatible or conducive for me, then I will avoid them. It sounds anti-social, but I am careful as I have been subjected to this for far too long before. Some people are draining. Dealing with their own stuff, unaware of how it affects others.

So at what point does it become easier to have mental awareness?

When you change your mindset and truly start to see things for what they are.

If you keep going at 70mph and not slowing down for hazards and corners, you will crash.

Most of the time we have the answers to our own questions, but sadly, we are just too busy to see them.

It's not healthy to dwell on the past. However, you have to sometimes revisit the past to reframe it and seek an alternative route. Acknowledge that it happened and what the outcome was.

How did this make you feel?

What would be an alternative outcome you would have preferred to see?

Without an alternative, you will automatically respond as you did before.

Reacting to a Smoke Alarm. or worse still, car alarms. Nobody bothers any more, a quick glance maybe but no one is interested. We can condition ourselves either way.

In my mind, the fire alarm has activated for a reason.

Respond and react. This is my way of thinking.

It's a life-saving bit of equipment, not an inconvenience.

Awareness for us in the Service is when you enter a house fire, leaving clean air and each step forward it becomes thicker, darker and more toxic in the smoke. Visibility drops to zero.

You are aware now of what your feet are standing on. The BA shuffle, loading one foot with your weight as the other sweeps forward and sideways searching for obstacles and testing the firmness of the floor and trip hazards, before applying your weight into that foot. At the same time you have 1 hand, (back of the hand so as not to encounter live electrical wires,) on the wall. Do not come off the wall as it is your route in and out. This is the picture you are forming in your mind. The obstacles found, chairs and table, TV stand and sofa. You have a picture of the room and the layout of landmarks. Follow the left hand in and return follow the right hand out. Simple really, my mate,(fireman,) has used this in a nightclub when a tad pissed once. He found his way back!

You get training in lifesaving skills and they stay fixed in your mind!

Then you are aware of the heat in the smoke, more intense as you near the fire. The burning sensations around your ears sharply increased pain, so you automatically drop lower to the floor.

You are even more alert in your hearing now as your sense of sight has been removed.

You are listening intently for a small cry for help, a moan or a cough. The crackling of the fire. All this can be heard just by the team stopping and holding their breath for a few seconds.

When was the last time you paused for breath and heard things you haven't heard before?

Any sounds heard you are rationalising in your mind as to the direction it's coming from. Within the sounds, you are becoming aware of how big the room is. This is being mindful.

How many know of how many stair treads there are in their house? I know it's a bit OCD, but I am a Fireman and have been conditioned. Walking up or down, well crawling, forwards going up and backwards coming down, mainly in a fire situation and sometimes with a casualty, you start to count stairs. Plus in the dark, you can never have enough torches. When it's dark and you lose any light source, (hey like living in rural France,) a torch can make a huge difference. For anyone not used to walking around in the dark, it is exactly what they need. Reassurance and comfort in being able to move around safely.

You may be asking how do I start being mindful?

Make a coffee. Smell it with your eyes shut. Taste it and savour it.

Then sit and be aware of your surroundings, feet firmly on the floor. Have a conscious mind of the hardness or softness of the chair. Be aware of any discomfort you may be feeling in your body. Then come back to the smell of your coffee.

Be aware of the size of the room and if anyone enters whilst you are sat there with closed eyes. Feel their energy they bring into your space. Sounds whacky, but it's not. Have you ever arrived at friends for a meal and you can feel the tension in the air from them quarrelling just before you got there? Powerful isn't it. We've just become too distracted in our living styles to notice. It's always been there. The Birds of Prey I worked with for many years are incredibly sensitive and feel our energy.

You will not get a bird to fly to someone if they have bad vibe energy.

This photo shows my Eagle Owl sat out for a photography event.

The energy she is giving off is clearly visible.

Picking her up, well she let me know she was not amused!

In the house that's on fire, we are aware of how fast our heart is pounding and how fast our air consumption is dropping. We have to, as once the cylinder is empty, if we are not outside, then we are not in a good place either.

So awareness is simple really. You know physical awareness in your body.

If you are doing weights and you can feel it hurting, it's not just an uncomfortable pulling of the muscles, it feels different. Yes, it's tearing the muscle or going into a cramp. You react and respond by prevention.

Mental Health is not too dissimilar really, yes it's not physical pain, but responses and triggers are there for us to read.

You are in this moment aware.

If in a debate and it becomes a heated argument, at what point do you feel it changing?

The tone of their voice or body language and gesturing?

Can you notice how you are feeling and what it is doing to you?

Can you prevent it by removing yourself, or saying you'll speak later.

You are in these moments aware.

You now have conscious thoughts and alternative thinking which can lead to alternative possible outcomes.

Hopefully, just by reading this, you have a different perspective or a broader outlook.

Someone else's bad mood can and will affect you, if you let it.

You are in control of what you eat and drink.

You are also in control of your thoughts and thinking.

Your thoughts will influence your responses.

Mental Health Awareness is being Mindful.

Mindful of what you think and do.

Keep safe and reach out if needed.

Be kind to your body and rest, be kind to your mind and relax.

Mental Health Awareness......


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