This week is Mental health awareness week and the theme is ‘kindness’. I wanted to share how I used kindness to move me from burnout to timeout, and transformed the way I live and work by taking what I have now dubbed a ‘grown-up gap year’.

Anyone looking at my business website or social media will have noticed I’ve been offline recently. Well, I have been being kind to myself mentally and strategically with my business. I took time  away from promoting my business to step back, take stock and see what is really important in my life.  Let me tell you why…

Time to Change

Last year, after a major client pulled a big project I had cleared my diary for, I decided that something needed to change. I was exhausted and stressed from constant travel to support my clients and attend meetings for all the volunteer work I had been doing for my professional organisations. I was juggling a busy family life too and really not feeling aligned with the work that I was getting paid to do . As a seasoned mental wellbeing advisor and @timetochange champion, I knew what I had to do. It was time to follow my own advice……

So with the help of trusted friends and colleagues, I reviewed what was important to me, and for my business, I decided to hire the lovely Amy at Coppercloud business services to completely revamp my website and overhaul my business offering, to something that I felt more aligned with delivering. Even more exciting, for myself, I decided to set out upon my very grown-up gap year

No Mistakes- Just Happy Accidents

In September 2019 I enrolled at a local college to study for a foundation degree in Art & Design and it has changed my life. I have learnt how to play again, how to experiment without fear of getting things wrong (as the legendary Bob Ross always said about painting- there are no mistakes, just happy accidents!) After sixteen years working in the Health and Safety sector and always being alert for faults, non-compliances, errors or gaps in risk control, it has been so liberating to celebrate my mistakes and run with them to see what new things I can create from them.

This investment in my creative development was my act of kindness to myself, and I will have gained so much more than the additional qualification to add to my (not inconsiderable) certificate stash amassed over the years! I have many more transferable skills to use in my business, an additional income stream from selling my art, and my mind has opened up to an infinite world of creative possibilities that I can apply in all areas of my life.

@anniesarthings Original Acrylic on Canvas ‘Puffin Love’

Be Kind to Your Mind

The theme of my summer show installation this year is, by coincidence (or was it by design?) ‘Be Kind to your Mind’- you can see the pieces and my other artworks on my Instagram (@anniesartthings) and tumblr blogs.

More though, I’d love to share the insights I’ve gained by deciding to be kind to myself. I’d also love to hear your experiences of how being kind to yourself has created opportunities or transformation in your life. As you are reading this article, please consider their answer to the following question:

What ways can you be kind to your mind and help your work colleagues with some self-care too?

The Mental Health foundation has lots of examples of how #KindnessMatters  in their #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek pages here , and the Action for happiness team published this handy kindness calendar that has lots of prompts- or why not make your own?

How are you being kind to yourself?

I would love to hear how you are coping with the changes that the COVID pandemic has brought to your business. Have you had to adapt to remote working, or change your business model ? How has that impacted you and your employees?

If you or anyone in your business is struggling with your mental health as a result of the changes to your business, you can find lots of advice here

If you would like to hear more about how I can help your business introduce creativity as a resilience tool with one of the courses we offer then Get in touch here and I will leave the paintbrushes down to respond to you as soon as I can.