City Lit Blog

Supporting Mental Health Awareness Week at City Lit

Story added 13th May 2019


Mental health is defined as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health Organization).

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 takes place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May 2019. It’s a time to reflect on how we stay well mentally, emotionally and physically. Key to that is building resilience to enable us to cope with whatever life throws at us. Taking some time to invest in our mental health can help us live richer and more fulfilling lives.

This year’s theme is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Body image issues can affect all of us at any age.

During the week we will be sharing videos, stories and courses you can take part in to boost your mental & physical health.

Today we start with seven practical ways to invest in your mental health from psychotherapist and City Lit lead counsellor Karen Dempsey 


Know your stressors

The first step towards optimum mental health is knowing what stresses you out. Your stressors may be lack of time, an overwhelming workload, a cluttered environment, a fractious relationship, a crowded train. Whatever your pressure point is, stress can burn you up and turn your energy to ashes. To keep your flame lit, get to know your triggers. Once you know them you can take steps to monitor them and reduce them. Look at alternatives to the stressor and introduce them into your life. Lowering your stress levels buys you some time before you snap.

Bracket your worries

Worry has a nasty habit of creeping into your thoughts and twisting them until your mind has created a worst-case scenario. Worrying can spoil your day and stop you living a full life. Worry robs you of the present because you’re absorbed with what might happen in the future. To support yourself in worrying less, try these two things. Firstly, agree with yourself that you will only worry about things that you have some control over. Let everything else go. Secondly, if you need to worry give yourself a set time each day – say, 20 minutes – when you can allow yourself to worry, worry, worry. When the 20 minutes are up, you can leave the worry behind and take it up again tomorrow.

Express your feelings

Expressing how you feel is vital to mental health. Bottling things up never works: eventually the feeling you’re trying to suppress will come out sideways. It’s OK to have feelings. There’s nothing right or wrong with a feeling. Speak to a friend or loved one and tell them how you feel. Speak to a therapist if you feel you need professional support. Or start a journal where you check in with yourself daily and write down what’s happening in your inner world. You’ll feel the relief of unburdening yourself.

Prioritise self-care

This is about putting your own oxygen mask on before you help others. You may feel it’s selfish to put yourself first when there are other people who need you, but without self-care you won’t have anything to give others. By self-care I mean ensuring you sleep and eat well, take some exercise, and build in some time to relax or meditate. Tune into your needs and aim to meet them where you can.

Stay connected

It can be so tempting to tune the world out and isolate yourself as an antidote to the 24/7 demands of life. Yet part of the definition of mental health is “making a contribution to your community”. Staying connected with people – friends, family, groups, or even volunteering for a good cause – can build the feel-good within.

Create a project

Do something just for fun. Build, draw, write, paint, dance, act, knit, learn. Choose something that makes your heart sing. Do something you love just for the sake of it – not because you’ve got a deadline to meet or a boss to impress or a point to prove. Whether it’s finishing a tricky jigsaw, crocheting a blanket, or starting a vegetable garden, having a project can give you meaning and purpose. It can put the spark back into your life.

Take the pressure off

A lot of frustration in life is caused by expecting perfection. Having incredibly high standards that you expect everyone to meet can often lead to feelings of disappointment and resentment. Self-pressure can be even worse. Your inner slave-driver can torture you with ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘ought tos’, leaving you feeling as though what you do will never be enough. That’s exhausting and can lead you down the road to anxiety and depression. Taking the pressure off yourself, and giving everyone permission to be imperfect, can be so freeing. Accept that you’re good enough just as you are.


Psychology & Counselling courses at City Lit

We have a long-standing experience in offering a wide range of psychology, personal development and counselling courses. Courses range from introductory to professional levels of training and our experienced tutors are committed to personal and professional development themselves. Every year we introduce new courses, ensuring that there’s always something different to try.

Browse our psychology and counselling courses

Counselling support for City Lit students

City Lit Counselling Support offers sessions of counselling to students enrolled on City Lit courses lasting at least a term. Find our more.

Health & Lifestyle courses at City Lit

From first aid courses, fitness classes to massage and anatomy training, from aromatherapy to nutrition, we offer a broad range of health and lifestyle courses taking place in the daytimes, evenings and weekends.

Work out at City Lit or explore the mind, body & soul on one of our energy & relaxation classes fitness classes. We run yoga classes from beginner’s level, pilates classes, T'ai Chi and much more....

Browse our health & lifestyle courses