Take Five

Time to Change have launched a nationwide initiative today called 'Time to Talk'. On this Thursday 5th February, they're asking everyone to take five minutes to have a conversation with someone about mental health. You can find out more about the project and get a resource pack on the Time to Change website.

In the resource pack you'll find a 'conversation starter', one of those little folded paper games you might remember from your childhood as seen in the picture above. Under each of the numbers is a suggestion to help you get your conversation started:

  1. Share with someone the thing that makes you smile the most.
  2. Text or ask a friend ‘How are you?’
  3. Call someone you’ve not spoken to in a while.
  4. Tell someone how you’re feeling today.
  5. Thank someone for something they’ve done for you.
  6. Get some fresh air with someone and see how they’re doing.
  7. Make someone a cup of tea and have a chat.
  8. Find out what someone does to unwind on a tough day.

So that’s my challenge to you today; take 5 minutes and start a conversation with a friend, family member or colleague. Or, if you’re feeling really adventurous in the 13 days before the beginning of Lent, do one each day and with the remaining five, do something from the NHS Five Steps to Good Mental Health. Here are my suggestions:

1. Connect.

Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. Challenge: Send someone a postcard.

2. Be Active.

You don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find the activities that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life. Challenge: Walk a longer route to lectures, or take a different route to work.

3. Keep Learning.

Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Challenge: Attempt arm knitting - you can find loads of tutorials online!

4. Give to others.

Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Challenge: Complement someone on something they've done well.

5. Take notice.

Be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness 'mindfulness', and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Challenge: Try using a form of theological reflection, for example the Examen found in Ignatian spirituality. Check out our resources section for a guide to the Examen.