I remember it well – the first time I ever ran a workshop for Voluntary Action Camden. The pounding heart, dry mouth, shaking hands. What if I forget what I want to say? What if my mind goes totally blank? What if..?
Several years on and some 50 or so workshops later, talking to a group of people no longer reduces me to a state of terror. It’s just part of my job, something I find rewarding and, dare I say it, even enjoyable.
But on this chilly February afternoon at a community venue near Kings Cross (Our Camden) I’m here to give moral and practical support to Yvonne, one of our volunteer Mental Health Champions.
Yvonne is knowledgeable and passionate about improving mental health awareness. But she’s about to deliver her very first wellbeing workshop and she confesses to feeling more than a tad nervous.
The subject of the session is “Sleep Hygiene – or getting a good night’s sleep.” We know that getting enough quality sleep is crucial for both our physical and mental wellbeing so we’re going to look at some small and simple changes we might make to help us get there.
As the room starts to fill up, Yvonne chats to each new arrival individually, learning names and making everyone feel comfortable. Everyone visibly warms to her engaging personality. Soon we have a lively group, ranging in age from 40ish to mid 80s.
Having established what Sleep Hygiene is not (…no it’s not about cleaning your teeth before bed or washing the sheets) and gently guiding the discussion back on track (sometimes challenging with a lively group) everything goes really well. There’s plenty of laughter too. We end up with an impressive list of ideas, all suggested by the group. Ranging from switching off your mobile phone and winding down before bed…. to going to bed at the same time every night…. to visualising having a warm relaxing bubble bath if you’re not actually able to have one.
So, huge congratulations to Yvonne for conquering those jitters and delivering such a fantastic workshop. We always knew she could do it. Yvonne’s verdict? “I enjoyed presenting the session. I was nervous but I didn’t need to be. The nervous energy I spent meant that I slept really well that night!”
Having trouble sleeping? If you find yourself regularly tossing and turning in the wee small hours, try these tips from the Sleep Council.
Or go to NHS Choices.
If problems persist, make an appointment to see your GP.
Want to know more about this Project? We train our volunteer Mental Health Champions to use a range of simple tools to get people talking about mental health and wellbeing in a way that is accessible and non-threatening. This in turn helps to break down stigma and taboos. We can offer short sessions to BME community groups on Sleep Hygiene, the Five Ways to Wellbeing and Stress Awareness. One of our volunteers can run these in Sylheti for the Bangladeshi community. We also hope to train one of our Somali-speaking volunteers to offer these in Somali in future. Starting with these everyday subjects, we hope to encourage people to talk and think more about looking after their mental health.
Community Development Worker (Mental Health)
Voluntary Action Camden
020 7284 6565