Asking for help on World Mental Health Day

Three years ago journalist Kevin Braddock hit rock bottom. He saw only two choices, and he chose to ask for help.

Three years on he’s developed a system to help other people do the same. Torchlight is an idea manifested across a range of objects and events: there’s the beautifully designed publication which tells his story of breakdown and recovery, the practice cards which inject a dose of creativity and even fun into the process of recovery, and Firegazing meet-ups he’s been running at his south London flat and in Berlin.

The first print run of Torchlight sold out after a story he wrote for the Guardian went viral and now he’s crowdfunding to print more. Here are his suggestions for dealing with anxiety and depression for people who are trying to make social change.

Start moving and keep moving
Serotonin is at its lowest first thing in the morning, and movement stimulates it. Practices like tai chi, yoga, shadowboxing, running and bodyweight can help bring the bringing the mind and body back together, dissolving rumination. Be gentle with yourself: it’s not a competition

Get talking
We walk around all day staring at handheld computers, but did you know they also function as telephones? The act of speaking – and just as importantly, listening – to someone else can help break circular throught patterns. A conversation doesn’t necessarily need to be “about” anything, or having a specific outcome: talking alone is enough to forge a connection with the outside world, and take you out of yourself.

Stop before you’re finished
Ernest Hemingway used this trick. Stop when you know you can do more, and save the energy for tomorrow (if you’re a social change maker, there is always another tomorrow). Working 16-hours days and late into the night is a guaranteed route to exhaustion.

Practice acceptance
You can probably change the world if you want to, but it’s wise to accept that you probably can’t change it all today, and probably can’t change everything you’d like to. Accept limitations, and learn to walk away before you break yourself on a Herculean task.

Walk away from the computer
Or, just walk, and absorb yourself in the act of walking, rather than walking as a way of getting somewhere. Let the body do its own thinking. By the time you return, chances are that whatever the problem is, it won’t seem quite so gigantic. (Flaneur card)

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