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You do so much for others, but who is taking care of you? Guest blog by Andy Elwood.

Andy Elwood

Be Your Own Best Friend – five ways to make it happen…

Have you ever noticed how you talk to yourself in a way you’d never talk to your friends?

Or how you’ll run around saying yes to everyone else, doing favours for others and putting their needs above your own?

Chances are, you’ve said yes to at least one of those questions. That’s because you’re human and most of us tend to behave that way.

Sadly, our inner voice is often a critic, rather than a cheerleader. And while doing favours for others is a good thing, too often it comes at the expense of looking after ourselves.

A lot of us are spending so much time saying yes to others, trying to be all things to everyone, listening to our negative internal monologue, that when it comes to looking after ourselves…well, we’ve simply run out of hours in the day. That’s where the Be Your Own Best Friend strategy comes in.   

What does be your own best friend mean?
What does Be Your Own Best Friend mean?

The phrase ‘Be Your Own Best Friend’ was something I first heard from someone taking part in an online men’s mental health support group I’m involved with.

And it struck a chord with me.

I often talk about the need to put your own oxygen mask on first – metaphorically speaking – and being your own best friend, is an extension of that idea.

It doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to other people. Or do favours for anyone. Or work late sometimes.

What it does mean is that you get comfortable prioritising yourself and your mental health first.

But getting comfortable with that can be tricky. It’s easy to feel that we’re being selfish.

I’ve felt that way myself. Having spent most of my career, especially as a paramedic on rescue helicopters, helping others, I found it difficult to put myself first.

However, having experienced burnout and depression, and then, like everyone, having to deal with all the changes to my personal and professional life during lockdowns, I’ve realised that this kind of self-focus isn’t selfish, it’s necessary.

It’s necessary to protect my own mental health and for me to be able to look after others properly.

Not only that, but I’ve found that this way of investing in yourself enables you to have a more satisfying, productive and engaging personal and professional life.

I’ve found it an incredibly helpful strategy over the past year, and I think you will too. That’s why my focus for 2021 will be on sharing this strategy and helping others to become their own best friend.

I’ll be hosting a webinar going into more detail on this topic soon. To make sure you get the information to attend, email me and I’ll add you to my mailing list.

For now, here’s an introduction to help you start thinking about how you can Be Your Own Best Friend.

  1. Pause
1. Pause

In the 24/7-rolling news-social media world we live in, being brave enough press pause and step off the hamster wheel is vital. That pause doesn’t necessarily need to be long, just long enough for you to recharge. But ideally, it’s something you do regularly, every day if possible.

It’s up to you how you choose to pause. We all have different ways of relaxing so find what works for you – a walk, a mindful breathing technique, listening to an audiobook, etc. But carve some time out every day to restore and re-energise.

2. Create a stress container model

2. Create a stress container model

Picture a container. In that container, are all the things that trigger stress in you. Sometimes things are added to the container over such a long period of time that we don’t even realise they’re in there, until it becomes too full and overflows. That’s when we feel overwhelmed.

Now picture a tap at the bottom of the container. This tap can release the stress, but in order to do that you have to recognise the triggers and have a helpful way of letting it out. Figuring what these are for you, can help to manage stress and improve your own mental health.

3. Five-a-day positive mental health

Five-a-day positive mental health
Five-a-day positive mental health

Like the five fruit and veg you’re supposed to eat every day for good physical health, there are five scientifically proven things to do every day for good mental health. These are: Connect, Be Active, Keep Learning, Take Notice and Give. You can read more about them in this blog

And, as part of Being Your Own Best Friend and taking care of yourself, I would also add some extras to that list: Good Nutrition & Hydration, Sleep and Gratitude.


Recognise, Acknowledge, Investigate, Non-Identify

RAIN stands for Recognise, Acknowledge, Investigate, Non-Identify. This is all about getting to know yourself better and being able to take a stand back from, and move past, your emotions so that they don’t overwhelm you. By recognising what’s going on with you and acknowledging it (i.e. I feel sad and that’s ok), you can then investigate why that’s happening and take appropriate action.

Non-identify means that you don’t allow yourself to become defined by your emotions. Just because you’re feeling sad or angry, doesn’t mean you are a sad or angry person.

5. Unhelpful thinking habits

Unhelpful thinking habits
Unhelpful thinking habits

This goes back to that first question I asked at the start of this blog, about how you talk to yourself. Often our inner voice is full of over-generalisations and jumps to conclusions. For example, we all do or say something stupid sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we are a stupid person, and yet we often find ourselves saying exactly that!

If you catch yourself thinking the worst of yourself, take a pause, investigate whether that is really true and think about what you would say to a friend who was saying these things about themselves.

Three things to do today

That’s a very brief overview of how to Be Your Own Best Friend, more details will be coming soon via a webinar and more blogs. Contact me to get more information on these delivered straight to your inbox.

But if you want to get started taking some positive steps today, below are three simple things you can do now:

  • Spend 10 minutes identifying what’s in your stress container model and the sign(s) that it’s becoming too full.
  • Identify what your coping strategies are for dealing with these stresses and whether they are helpful or if they could be better.
  • Dare to press pause once a day to recharge and restore.

Join the self-care revolution

Professor and best-selling author, Brene Brown says, “In a society that says ‘puts yourself last’, self-love and self-acceptance are almost revolutionary.”

Put yourself first. Join the revolution. Be Your Own Best Friend

Contact me to make sure you don’t miss out on the upcoming webinar on Be Your Own Best Friend.

And look out for more blogs coming soon on topics such as:

  • Stress and the new normal
  • Loss & Bereavement
  • Sh*t Happens…

Visit Andy’s website for more information about men’s mental health and mental health training.

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