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Improving my mental health fitness

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Graphic with 'Mental Health Awareness Week: 13-19 May' written on it

I binge eat when stressed. In secret, when I'm at my worst I will drive to a supermarket buy a whole pack of doughnuts eat them in my car, hide the evidence, tell no one. I don't know why. Somehow it became my method of coping.

The side effects aren't great and are visible. For much of my life I've been obese or morbidly obese which doesn't help with self-confidence. I had always berated myself over a lack of self-control, always been on diets and struggled to stick to them. Always felt guilty.

Something changed last year - I began to view my relationship with food and my behaviour as an aspect of my mental health fitness to manage and work on.

I attended a talk at DHSC last year as part of mental health week. A colleague spoke about managing depression. He outlined some three key principles that stuck with me:

We are all somewhere on a scale of mental health fitness (just like we are all on a scale of physical fitness). We can all take steps to improve our mental health.

Be your own project manager to treat or improve aspects of your mental health. Seek out and make sure you prioritise your treatment. Don’t stick your head in the sand like an ostrich.

Recognise its not something that can be ‘fixed’ rather life long management. Treatment and changes made need to be sustainable.

I applied these 3 principles: I read a cognitive behaviour therapy book, I attend a weekly Park Run (a free 5km run or walk). I track my calories. I attend a weight loss group weekly.

I've lost 4 and a half stone since January 2018. I don't feel guilty anymore when I slip up. I try to take the bad with the good. I will always struggle with this aspect of my mental fitness, but I have learnt to accept it and manage it in a sustainable manner that I can continue for life.

If I can do it, you can definitely do it!

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