Making our mental health a top priority can feel selfish, or even silly at times, but Lerwick Up Helly Aa guizer jarl Liam Summers reminds us how it is absolutely necessary.

In the spring of 2019, Liam approached us to share that he was training for the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon and was looking to raise money for Mind Your Head. His hard work and dedication paid off as he completed the half marathon and raised £2,197 for our charity.

Liam acknowledged the importance of mental health and that what we do makes a difference. There is a huge need to build a popular culture of looking after our minds, just like we look after our bodies. So, if you can look after your body by going to the gym or eating an apple, what’s the equivalent of a 5-a-day for your mind?

We asked Liam and this is what he said:

  1. Running. It feels great when you're doing it, plus you get a high and a feeling of achievement.
  2. Making lists. I've been on the UHA committee for eight years and it's easy to let things get on top of you. Making a list is simple and effective.
  3. Talking. When something's bothering me, I try not to keep things bottled up. Sometimes, it takes time--but I get there eventually!
  4. Tidying up. I always feel good after a big tidy up, I have no idea why. Maybe it has to do with setting a target and achieving it. Also I really enjoy organising.
  5. Spending time with the bairns. Becoming a dad really changed me. I feel like I've grown a lot as a person: I've become a lot more positive, wanting to be the best that I can be. So no matter what else is going on, I plan to spend time with my bairns.

Liam has had his own struggles with mental health, but has found different ways to cope with the demands of everyday life.

Most people think I'm happy and easy-going, but I struggle as well. Since I became a parent I've changed a lot. I started speaking more and that helps. What I can say is find something that's good for you. Give your mind as much time as you give your physical health. For me it's about the months and months with the UHA group: making something, practising, speaking, and catching up. It's having a space to open up. It's amazing how many people are struggling with the same thing, but it takes someone to bring it up. Give some thought as to what helps you, and and get involved!

#BeKindToYourMind is Mind Your Head's monthly information and resource feature of people who understand the importance of looking after their mental health and wellbeing. We hope that their stories inspire you to make positive changes in your self-care practise. Because, despite what the voices in your head say, you are worth it and you matter!

If you are a mental health and wellbeing champion who would like to share your ideas with us (and the world!), please send an email to [email protected] or a contact form message with Be Kind to Your Mind Feature as the subject.

Previously on #BeKindToYourMind: Clear Your Festive Stress