A Wellbeing Week Q&A With The blog Squad
To support the #HaveAHeart campaign I asked the beautiful blog squad ladies some their thoughts on what wellbeing means to them, why they are supporting this campaign, who they are gifting their yellow hearts to and how they look after their own wellbeing.
Caroline – How do you look after your own wellbeing?
As someone who sits in front of the computer for hours, I know it’s important to take a break and move my body. Even though I might not always want to go, I ensure I go to the gym at least 4 times a week, I always feel so much better in myself when I have exercised plus I know I am looking after my body for the future. I’ve kept up to my routine since last December as I know I need to lose some weight to ensure I continue to have a healthy life. The thing I have noticed with health & wellbeing is you have to want it to be a focus, nobody else can do it for you. I’ve found when I’m exercising, eating healthily & have my wellbeing as a focus in my life everything else is better too, not only my own fitness & mental health but relationships, business & finances – You name it, they all improve when I focus on my wellbeing!
Sarah – How are you spreading the message of kindness and positivity to your daughters/ children?
I had a few tough years at school and was on the receiving end of some mean girls. Girls who wanted me to feel small and unworthy. Girls who I thought were my friends and who, ultimately broke my heart with their betrayal, long before any boy could.
I vividly remember vowing to myself that I would never be mean to anyone. That being kind and genuine would be something I valued and put above being cool, or trendy or a part of the in-crowd. I am no way near perfect, but I still value kindness and try my best to stamp out any base instinct to be petty, mean or bitchy.
Now my eldest daughter is 10, I am starting to see the beginnings of what I know is to come over the next few years: Girls doing what girls do in their teens. Girls being mean. Girls falling out. Girls being jealous, competitive and vindictive. I have sat with my daughter and listened to her tales of pre-teen angst and recounted my own experiences of being on the receiving end of meanness. Funnily enough, she finds it hard to believe that anyone would dare to be mean to me! But, then she never met the 14-year-old me.
My message to her each and every time is:
“Don’t be the mean one. No matter what is said, or what happens, don’t be mean.
You may regret being mean, but you will never regret being kind.
Be the one who does the right thing. Be the kind one. Always.”
So far, she seems to understand. I have faith in her. I believe both she and her little sister have truckloads of kindness inside them.
My job is to help them put kindness first and I am up for that challenge!
Emma – Who are you gifting your yellow heart pin to and why?
On my first day at university, I met Sarah. I’d been coughing my guts up in a seminar, making a scene as usual, and she passed me her bottle of water. Later that day I found myself sat next to her again in a lecture and we discovered we were on the same course. That was it. Our friendship was cemented and we spent the next 4 years (and the 10 years since graduation) together. She is the kindest, warmest, funniest and most loyal person I know.
Spending 5 minutes in her presence lifts my mood quicker than any medicine a doctor could prescribe me. Being around someone who makes me feel happy, cared for and loved boosts my wellbeing like nothing else. We’ve laughed, cried and supported each other through all sorts over the years and I couldn’t think of a better person to share my #haveaheart pin with. Everything the yellow heart symbolises is her to a T – happiness, optimism, loyalty and joy – and I’m very lucky that I have someone like her in my life.
Molly – Have you ever experienced something from another woman that has impacted on your wellbeing, what did you do about it?
Motherhood hit me hard. My pregnancy with Lily was overshadowed with worry from the miscarriage we’d had previously. I didn’t have the easiest of births, but I was so bloody glad she was here safe and well. Looking back I didn’t consider my own wellbeing at all. Physically, I felt like I’d been run over by an articulated lorry and that my bits had been butchered. Breastfeeding was hard and I was so, so anxious about doing it publically… Someone suggested attending a breastfeeding support group to try and get a bit of confidence. In those hazy newborn days it took all my energy to get us out of the house, but we did it… I was so petrified walking through those doors… I’d over thought every last thing… but we had arrived! I sat down triumphantly, excited to be in this supposed place of ‘support’… and everyone ignored me. I eventually mustered up the courage to try and make some small talk to the woman next to me. I complimented her on how cute her baby was, asked how old she was… and other various attempts at small talk. I got literally nothing back. I cannot tell you how much that hurt. I was crying out for some adult interaction, some reassurance I was doing this scary new job well or even just some light hearted banter. Instead, I was shunned. What on earth was wrong with me? I left pretty promptly and never returned.
I still resent how that woman made me feel. Rationalising it now, I guess I have no idea what she was dealing with… and I probably shouldn’t judge.
What I have done is made a conscious effort to engage with other parents when I am out and about. I try to make friendly eye contact, give a little smile or engage in some small talk. I especially try to do this when I’m out with a friend and we happen to be with a mother on her own with her child(ren). Because I remember clearly how much I needed that friendly word, knowing nod or just to be acknowledged as a fellow human behind winging their way through this scary, lonely new territory of motherhood.
Vicky – Why are you supporting the #HaveAHeart campaign?
Being honest about how you feel to yourself can be hard, sharing it with others is sometimes impossible.
I’m a culprit of this, I find it far easier to sweep over emotions than to wear my heart on my sleeve for everyone to see.
What I’ve discovered since being part of the Girl About gang is that everyone is dealing with something difficult in their life. No one is in isolation, the only person struggling, or being dealt a shit card in life. we all have something we are trying to cope with. It’s just some of us choose to not openly share.
What I love about the #haveaheart campaign is the encouragement to let women know they are not alone. And that through a simple gesture of a pin, will unite women and hopefully make them feel stronger and happier.
Amy – Have you ever experienced something from another woman that has impacted on your wellbeing, what did you do about it?
I was bullied in my first job as a qualified nurse by another female nurse. This affected my confidence for the last 12 years making me a very sad and often frustrated and angry person. It impacted on every aspect of my wellbeing, health and relationships for a very long time. I sought help and had and still regularly have counselling and therapy. My attitude has slowly changed as have my thought processes. It takes a bloody long time and I often have to look at myself and revert back to my therapy to remind myself that this does not need to impact on my life forever. I now look after myself both physically and emotionally and try to let go of things I can’t change. That includes people. I spend my time with good people, not people who cause persistent misery in my life and essentially bring nothing other than negativity to the table. That does not include people who are in need of my support of course. My relationships now are not me spending all my time helping people who take advantage of me and bring me down to control me because they can but being in mutual relationships based on real care, love and respect. I am happier now than I have ever been because of me and those I choose to spend my precious time with. Because time is precious.
Charlotte – Why are you supporting the #HaveAHeart campaign
I’m supporting the #haveaheart campaign because I’ve experienced first-hand the amazing power of female support and solidarity.
When my marriage ended in a very traumatic manner, I just wanted to hide away from the world. It felt too excruciatingly painful to even talk about and I shut myself away from my friends at a time when I needed them the most. I’m so lucky to have amazing women in my life who recognised this and intuitively showered me with love and support in other ways until I was ready to open up emotionally. Like leaving bags of groceries unannounced on my doorstep, like bringing me a homemade dinner, like inviting my daughter for a playdate to give me some time to myself, like sending me lovely messages to let me know they were there for me. Thoughtful acts of genuine kindness that made me feel loved and supported at a time when I felt desperately alone and frightened. Knowing these women were there for me gave me the strength I needed to start talking about my emotions and to share things I’d felt too traumatised to vocalise.
I love that the #haveaheart campaign is all about bringing women together to celebrate the power of kindness and the hugely positive impact this has on your wellbeing.
Sarah K – How do you look after your own wellbeing?
Kirsty -Why are you supporting the #HaveAHeart campaign
There’s so much negativity in the world these days – everyone has a platform and so many seem to use theirs to knock people down. Maybe being behind a keyboard makes people meaner – but we spend so much of our lives these days in a virtual world it’s easy to go several days without seeing the kindness of people in real life.
Many of us are mums and know all too well the isolation of maternity leave, the fear of the school gates and the guilt that comes with trying to maintain a work-life balance. Sometimes seeing a post online that really hits that mark makes you feel less alone and brighten your day. Knowing there are other people out there feeling like you – relatable kind, generous women that make you feel good about yourself rather than bad.
I want to make the posts that let people feel good about themselves, I want to be the woman that is kind, I want to #haveaheart
Katie – What does wellbeing mean to you?
I think it’s a general state of self-awareness: acknowledging if something doesn’t quite feel right, whether physically or mentally, and taking the time and care to invest back into yourself. It’s going for a run or putting on that fancy hair mask that I never quite feel justified in using; it’s knowing when to accept or reject an opportunity or an invite. It’s putting yourself under the microscope without even realising you’re doing it. I think in the modern world we’re constantly under pressure to be doing and achieving ‘more’, which, coupled with the fact we’re endlessly bombarded with comparison points that we might not even be aware of, can make things tough. (For example: looking on Instagram and seeing friend A has just done something wonderful and subliminally thinking ‘should I be doing that?’ Or ‘why haven’t I achieved that yet?’ Etc) It almost feels like there’s a certain degree of pressure involved in relaxing and switching off – and I say that as someone who downloaded a meditation app and resented having to spend 10 minutes a day on it…!
So in short, what I’m saying is: physical and mental health aside, I think a big part of well-being is about trying to sift away all the stuff – expectation, comparison, pressure – and taking even just the briefest of moments to consider how lucky you are to be you, right here, right now. If you can hold onto that in the middle of the madness that is 21st century life, you’re nailing it.
Annabel – Who are you giving your yellow heart to and why?
One Saturday evening earlier this year, one of my gorgeous friends, Stacey, bounced into our flat and smugly declined a glass of wine. My husband took her other half to the pub for full debrief whilst we gushed about how we could holiday with the wee ones together very soon. Stacey was 4-5 weeks pregnant at the time and I was so grateful that she trusted me as one of the first people to know.
The following week, things very quickly changed. Their world was turned upside down when initial spot bleeding got heavier and she had to call the early pregnancy unit where, after a few torturous days of waiting, they scanned her tummy. They confirmed the worst and with that destroyed the remains of the happy pregnancy bubble.
My yellow pin badge is going to my little warrior of a friend Stacey. The bravest and strongest girl, I saw the miscarriage rip through her heart and her life in one fell swoop. One of life’s most unfair and unexplained injustices with far too many women experiencing them in silence. Thankfully, Stacey shared her news with us and by telling us early about her pregnancy we could support her as best we could through one of the hardest things she’s ever had to experience. Unfortunately, so many women suffer in silence as it’s not the done thing to talk openly about miscarriage and we’re encouraged not to share too early, ‘just in case’. By sharing, we can support each other.
I’m so chuffed to say that this wee hero of a friend is pregnant again and coming up very quickly to her 12-week scan! Her positivity and strength have been incredible but I know that every day she is living in fear that she may miscarry again. Stacey – you are going to absolutely rock motherhood and you are already the best mum your babies could wish for.
Thank you to Stacey for letting me share her story, as in her words “if it helps someone else going through the same, or if it gives them comfort knowing they aren’t alone, then something good’s come out of a shitty situation”.
We’ve love to know what wellbeing means to you and how you are supporting it. Please tell us in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer all.
Thank you for joining us is pushing the power of kindness.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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