World Mental Health Day 2020 poster

How are you? – Caring for Mental Health

‘How are you?’ 

This used to be such a throw away question at the start of the conversation. Now it is a big question. 

As a fundraiser I get knocked back a lot – we get a lot of nos.

The nos are hard and for many people the nos are hitting them much harder now than they ever have. 

As someone who has had mental health issues in the past I can not stress enough how important I think it is to look after yourself and get support. 

Looking after yourself

Have a think about

  • How are you?
  • How is your mental health?
  • Are you getting support?
  • Are you taking breaks?
  • How is your time management?
  • Are the ‘nos’ hitting you harder?

Why does this matter right now?

  • It has been 6 months since we went into lock-down
  • You can not do your best work for your organisation if you are not ok.
  • You can’t write well if you are frazzled.
  • This has always been an important question, however, with COVID-19 the world is very different.

Stress Bucket

Stress bucket diagram showing how doing small things to take care of yourself can make small "holes" in your metaphorical stress bucket and stop it filling up too much

I really like the Stress Bucket metaphor.

I have talked to a lot of fundraisers in organisations and freelancers who are feeling the pressure more now than ever before. There is so much uncertainty and we are missing the normal every day. 

What can you do to relieve some of that stress? Personally for me it’s meditation, exercise, time management, family and having a coach.

Music Venue Trust has put a list of mental health support services together here if you need more support and help.

Self Care

For me I know that having positive mental health is something that I need to work on every day. I need tools and techniques to stay on top of things. Below I have shared my 5 key tools for self management and 5 tools for work management. When I feel things are starting or fully out of control. I go back to getting these 10 things back into my day to day.

Here are some of the self care tools I use to manage my mental health 

A cup of tea

1. Mediation. I use Headspace.

I use the app to refocus, exercise, go to sleep and to help my 7 year old.

Sign up for 2 free weeks.

2. Exercise

I hate it but I do it!

Sometimes I just go for a walk.

3. Connect with others

This is even more important right now when we are limited to who we can see. Everyone is feeling the pressure right now so reach out to others too.

I have various WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups I use to get support and support others.

I have a coach who keeps in one track and people that I do co-coaching with.

4. Diet

Be careful of everything from forgetting to eat meals to binging on rubbish.

I am a massive coffee addict so I always hydrate before I caffeinate!

Make sure you make time to eat and eat what makes you well.

5. Doing nothing sometimes

We all need down time so make sure you are getting some whether that is reading a book or watching a series

Self care at work

It is also really important to manage yourself whilst you are working. Why?

It takes an average of about 25 minutes (23 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact) to return to the original task after an interruption

Professor Gloria Mark,

Department of Informatics, University of California

These are some really distracting times – the news, social media and our phones take so much attention and they are designed to keep that attention so don’t let them! Here are some of the tools I use to organise myself

A cluttered workspace

1. Multiple Inbox

I use 4 in mine which are quick (things under 5 mins that I need to do now), longer (take a bit longer but need doing now), to do (things that need adding to my to do list) and newsletters.

A few times a day I go to my inbox and sort the emails into these inboxes, I deal with the ‘quick’ things (and move them to ‘to do’ as needed if a task or follow up is needed), I then do the ‘longer’ ones. Once a day I look at the ‘newsletters’ and the ‘to do’. With my ‘to do’ inbox I put these into my Todoist (See below) and assign a day you do the task returning to the email when I am doing the task. 

2. Do not use folders in your email!

You use the search function to find emails so why do you need folders?

“Using folders to organize and find emails wastes 14 minutes per day” and “Archiving emails into many folders using a mouse wastes 11 minutes per day.” – that is two hours a week – one day a month, think what you could do with an extra day!!! Here in this Harvard Business Review Article here. I just put everything in a folder called ‘Admin’ so it sits at the top of the list above the ones described above.

3. Todoist –

I love it for simplicity and that it integrates with Gmail. When I move things into here from gmail it links back to the email as I enter the task

4. Pomodoro technique

25 minutes work, 5 mins rest – simple as that.

I have this lovely timer as well as digital ones that I use.

I love the wink!

5. Trello

Recently I led a team of 15 fundraisers helping 250 organisation bid for the Arts Council England Cultural Recovery Fund.

How did we manage the work flow on that? Trello! And an amazing administrator sitting in the centre of all of that! I will blog more about that amazing team soon!

Need to talk?

If you want a chat email me on