Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10 is not just about shining a spotlight on mental illnesses, it’s also a chance for everyone to check in on friends, family, and themselves. It’s no small irony that in our daily lives when we’re now more connected, we’re more disconnected ever. I’m as guilty of the next person of scrolling through my phone instead of engaging with the world around me, but now that I have a 15-month-old, I’m far more aware of those precious minutes lost poring over someone else’s perfect family pictures. My daughter is my strongest reminder to live in the now – building Lego towers, sipping pretend cups of tea, and reading The Gruffalo for the umpteenth time are her only priorities right here, right now… and she’s not shy in letting me know.

 

Switching off in a digital world

But for all the perils that come with being connected around the clock, my iPhone has also brought some sense of balance to my life. A few years back, during some pretty dark days, my acupuncture therapist recommended I download this app, and it’s become my go-to whenever I feel that heavy weight in my chest. For me, returning to full-time work has meant a return to middle-of-the-night tossing and turning, as my brain zeros in on things that will feel minuscule in the morning. Now, when those 3am demons rear their heads (and any other time the mood strikes), I grab my phone and play a guided meditation. You’d be amazed how many times I’m snoring away before the six-minute session is up.

 

Staying grounded

As a born-and-bred country girl, there is nothing that soothes my soul like the feeling of grass under my feet. So, my other failsafe method when things start to bubble under the surface is to get outside and kick off my shoes. Dubbed ‘earthing’ or ‘barefooting’, this slightly crunchy approach to self-care is all about reconnecting with the earth’s energy, and even though my husband will be rolling his eyes by now, for me it balances and revives me in ways I can’t explain.

 

So today on Mental Health Awareness Day – and every other day – take that time to check in with yourself, to find a moment of calm in our crazy lives, and kick off your shoes if the mood strikes.

For more on maintaining balance in your life, read Dubai author Mathilde Loujayne’s article on self-care