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Mental Health Awareness Week

12 May 2019

Mental Health Awareness Week is here and the theme is...Body image!

Changes Bristol are here daily to provide you with useful tips on how to improve your body image and how to build your self confidence.

So stay tuned !!!

Day 1- Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been defined as a "state" of being in the present moment. It means being aware of the here and now. It's a way of engaging the "whole" individual in the creation of his or her own reality. Thanks to mindfulness, individuals develop new kinds of control, acceptance, wisdom and insight.

The end product of mindfulness is the ability to observe our body without judging or any emotional reaction. As a result, the likelihood of having any destructive behaviours to our bodies is decreased.

Techniques to help you with being aware of the present.

  • Be mindful of everyday routines.

Pick an everyday routine where you think you could be more mindful. It could be walking to work, doing the dishes or eating your lunch. Spend as much time as you can focusing and engaging with that activity. For example, while walking pay attention to how your body feels, the nature around you and the air on your skin.

  • Mindful listening.

Listen to some slow tempo music and notice its calming effects. Focus on the sounds and the way the music makes you feel. If other thoughts appear, refocus your attention on the sound of the music. Also, mindfully listen when others are speaking to you, make the effort to stop what you are doing and what you are thinking and really pay attention to them.

  • Mindfulness while you wait.

Waiting is a perfect time to pause, observe and be mindful. You can practice mindfulness whilst stuck in traffic or waiting in a queue. Use this time to slow your breathing and just observe the things around you. If you feel tense or impatient just observe these thoughts and how they make you feel.

  • Mindfulness meditation.

    Frequently practising meditation is a great way to be more mindful. With practice it can really help to minimise stress and anxiety and increase feelings of happiness and peace of mind. Look out for meditation courses, drop in classes at Buddhist centres or helpful books to learn more about meditation techniques.

  • 60 second breathing.

    If meditation is not for you, then paying attention to your breathing for just one minute can help with calming and focusing the mind. Concentrate on your breath and become aware of the rise and fall of your belly. Aim to breathe in for 7 and out for 11 seconds. If your mind wanders, do not judge or react to your thoughts, just refocus on your breathing.

  • Create your own!

    Virtually any activity can be turned into a mindfulness exercise, and mindfulness can be introduced to anything and everything you do. So make up your own to incorporate into your daily routine, and just remember to stay in the moment!

Remember: Mindfulness can take practice, so be patient with yourself! Start with small steps, try some of the above techniques for just a few minutes every day to gradually increase the amount of time you spend in the present moment.

Helpful websites: -    

Day 2- Post-it Notes

For the second day, you'll need a pencil and a couple of post-it notes.  
Take a note and write down what you like the most about yourself. 3-4 nice things would be ideal. 
Put these notes on your mirror or your door or wherever you want. This way every time you are staring at yourself in the mirror or opening a door, you'll remind yourself of the nice things about yourself. 

If you find it hard to name 3-4 nice things about yourself you could ask your friends or family. Don't be shy to ask them for a couple of compliments, explain to them the reason you're asking and how important this is for you.

Keep updating your notes, add a few more if you feel comfortable and you will undo a lot of negativity.


Day 3- Social Media

Exposure to media images of ideal bodies can have harmful effects on our mood and body satisfaction. Social media is also linked to low self-esteem.

If you're feeling extra down about yourself, it might be a good idea to delete the apps from your phone for a couple of days. Try a social media cleanse. If that seems too difficult for you use your social media apps less.

How to limit your social media use?

There are several apps that track social media usage and help you gain control over them.

  1. Social Fever (Android)
  2. Space Break phone addiction (iOS, Android)
  3. App Detox - App Blocker for Digital Detox (Android)
  4. Offtime-Distraction Free (iOs, Android)
  5. My Addictiometer  Mobile Addiction tracker (Android)
  6. Quality time (Android)
  7. Moment - Screen Time Tracker (iOS)
  8. BreakFree (iOS, Android)
Remember to take your time. It's not easy to immediately stop using your social media. See which app works better for you and make a schedule that you feel comfortable with. 

Day 4- Exercise

The body and the mind are highly connected. The endorphins released by exercise improve our perception and make us feel better.
Working out makes us feel like we are doing something good for our body. It doesn't have to be everyday and we shouldn't force ourselves to work out constantly. 

It's not about looking different after the exercise or changing our body. It's about feeling different and better because we have done something hard for our own good. 

Any kind of movement... Go to the pool, ride your bike, practise yoga or take a walk. 

Changes Bristol invites you to a couple of Sports And Challenge Events. You can choose between golf, runs, cycle, climbing etc.

Day 5- Social Interactions

Sometimes the best tip is to share our emotions and our thoughts.
Talking to friends or family has been found to help us cope with negative body image and makes us feel better about ourselves.

Take a moment to appreciate the people who surround you, the ones who are there for you and care about you. Have a conversation with them, share your concerns.

If for any reason that doesn't work for you, you can always visit a support group. Changes Bristol have 11 support groups all over Bristol and you are free to visit whichever you prefer. Give it a try.

Find A Support Group.

Day 6- Mirror Exposure

For today's tip you will need practice and time to make it work.

Stand in front of your mirror and try to describe your physical appearance in a detailed neutral way. Don't judge your body. You only have to describe it.

By describing as neutrally as possible you minimize a lot of the negative feelings that are associated with your body. Pure exposure has been found to reduce the negative emotions that we have about our bodies.

Day 7- My Body Can

Mental Health Awareness Week is coming to an end. During this week Community Access Support Service has been running a social media campaign. Everyone was invited to think 'what can your body do that makes you love life?’. "However you look and however able-bodied you may be, everybody can use their body to enjoy life".

Based on their campaign we are inviting you to take a moment and consider what your body is capable of.
It doesn't have to be something amazing.
Let's appreciate the small things we can do because of our body.  We can listen to music, we can dance, we can read incredible books, we can watch a film, we can hug our pets....