If you've read our guide on mental health awareness, you'll know how important building strong mental health is to the TeamUp community.
Which is why when we saw Lou Redmond, owner of Lou Redmond PT communicating the benefits of mental health and offering experiences centred around mental health to her customers during Mental Health Week in the UK we knew she'd be the perfect example to show how to incorporate mental strength training and nurturing into your own customer experience.
Lou walked us through the many activities she and her customers spent doing during the week including forest bathing, wild swims, and meditation, and she broke down the stigmas around mental health and why people fear talking about their mental stability and mindset.
Check out our interview with Lou below to learn about the experiences, classes, and sessions that you too can offer your members to help them in strengthening their mental health and wellbeing.
For mental health week, I worked in conjunction with a running coach. She wanted to do something that would really help people, and give people a number of free sessions. When I saw that I completely jumped on board and said I would run a session because mental health is such a huge thing for so many people. I also wanted to take part in some of the sessions as well.
What mental health sessions did you offer your clients during Mental Health Week?
We had 16 members join us for a week of mental health activities. We kept numbers low to keep it safe, and to support the people who were really apprehensive about taking part in these experiences.
Instagram really helped inform my customers about what we were offering. All my memberships and members are through TeamUp so I can connect with them via my Facebook group that they're all in and messages through TeamUp.
Every single person got in and did exactly the same thing and felt the benefits which was really good.
Wild nature swimming
I wanted to run something that I do every single day, which is a wild swim. We often go wild swimming in various different rivers, waterfalls, or the sea. Lots of people have been watching the Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof on the BBC and I think it sparked even more interest in getting out there into nature, dipping yourself, immersing yourself in cold water and reaping the benefits from it.
A woman from right down south in the country was on holiday and her daughter had seen our activities advertised on social media and told her since she was in the area she should attend. She had been wild swimming before and came to our session, simply because her daughter had noticed it and encouraged her to come.
Wild swimming in Lake District
Online happiness session
We did an online happiness session and our clients spoke to a happiness guru. They got tips and hints on how to improve and work on your happiness.
Something I've never done before was forest bathing. We did it in a lovely place called Broughton Hall in Skipton. A really cool woman offers sessions there and offers it as part of a retreat. It was quite unique to be able to get this experience. All of the sessions that they offered during Mental Health Week were free.
I think people's misconceptions about forest bathing are pretty much tree-hugging and petting trees. Everybody laughs a little bit about it because they don't really understand what it is and I was one of those people and I really wanted to try and see it and use it as an opportunity to go along and do it. I was a little bit apprehensive but it was absolutely brilliant.
One of the activities forced us to slow down and notice every movement of walking. She said, “If you walk past me, you're walking too fast”. She was walking at a snail's pace, and to be honest that was the thing I found the most difficult to do. We use walking as a method to get from A to B. You don't think about what you're seeing or doing while you're on the journey. You just go.
21-Day abundance challenge
One of my friends created a 21-day abundance challenge. Every day it sets you a target. The first one was to list 50 influential women in your life, and it could be anybody at all. It sends prompts like that and then there is an audio meditation that comes with it all about abundance with a mantra at the end.
It is so calming and it's free for anybody to do. It's just about connecting with somebody, telling them about it and then offering them it if they want to do it. Then on day five you can create your own little group of three people and pass it on to them as well which is really cool. I found it really positive.
Forest bathing excursion
What are the biggest mental health benefits of connecting with nature?
The theme for Mental Health Week is Loneliness to try and put people back together a little bit more. I think because of what's happened over the last couple of years that's really something that has had a huge impact on people. People find themselves a little bit more isolated now than they ever have before. Even though we should be more connected this feeling of isolation really plated out in the sessions. Some people were crying, some people were sharing their own experiences.
For the forest bathing, it wasn't about walking to a tree and giving it a hug. It was about really noticing what is around you. Taking the time to slow down, you actually start to think about yourself and allow yourself to have the time to stop and take stock of what's going on.
It was really powerful because it transformed everybody's perception of what it was going to be like. It turned into this wonderful real sense of collectiveness with people which was really lovely. People did open up and share experiences and at the end of the day, that's positive and helps people. We learned that the trees emit a chemical that helps us with our own mental health and I think even just being in nature, we know all the benefits.
Why should people prioritise mental health more than ever?
When you take that time to actually give yourself some time out, not just sit for five minutes and have a cup of tea like you might do every day, but actually give yourself some blocked out time out of your diary to address what's going on with you, to seek help from somebody else, to actually look at yourself. There's no one that has complete confidence all the time and can't work on their health.
Reaffirming yourself takes practice. A lot of these things, for example, stretching, people don't do enough of every day. Stretching your mind and actually activating bits of it that you'd potentially don't use or telling yourself something positive. It's just a simple way to really help yourself.
Meditation and the 10-3-2-1-0 rule
One thing that evokes a kind of negative response from people is meditation. When people hear the word meditation, they think of somebody dressed in robes, sitting in with their hands clasped and making funny noises. And actually, meditation can just be sitting in silence.
Meditation can be sitting somewhere in your favourite place. Meditation can be listening to the sound of something that just makes you calm down, which decreases your heart rate and has a positive impact on your restfulness and your possibility to get a restful night's sleep. Turning your phone off can really help you to do those things. Taking a time out to meditate can really benefit and help you. The amount of people that have said to me recently that they struggle with sleep has been really eye-opening.
We use the ten three, two, one zero tool to assist with sleep.
- 10 hours before sleep, don't drink coffee
- 3 hours before sleep don't eat a big meal
- 2 hours before sleep reduce stress
- One hour before sleep, get off your phone, put it away and put it somewhere else.
- Zero is the amount of times you should press snooze when you get up.
So a ten three, two, one zero rule for sleep. If you adopt that with a similar cycle every night, you might be able to benefit from it.
What were the most powerful takeaways for you and your members?
From all the activities we have done I've definitely noticed a bit of a shift and a change in myself because of taking the time out to do those things, which has been really beneficial to me.
It was really interesting as well to watch the person who set up the week of free events because she became really emotional. Seeing the impact that it was having on other people. The knowledge that she'd created was really useful to people and it was needed. That energy wasn't there before, but as soon as you put something like this in place, you build the energy towards it and people come together. It creates more energy.
Find the things that make you relax and treat them as a necessity for your health.
Thanks for sharing Lou!
If you have stories and tips you'd like to share about supporting your community's mental health, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.