Everyone thinks of changing the world, no one thinks to change himself” Leo Tolstoy. The #HeyAreYouOK? campaign is about changing the world by changing attitudes and culture to stress and distress. It’s no accident that step one of the campaign is "Look After Yourself."

I chatted with two people who have found their own unique way of looking after themselves and are inspiring others to do the same.

Marie Claire has one of those brains that are super active with ideas – or “idearrhea” as she puts it.  Even just talking to her on skype you can feel the fizz of her electricity.  As we were chatting a magic wand went flying across her desk setting the tone for the conversation.  Marie Claire describes lots of different ways of looking after herself including “brain vomiting” (her version of journaling when her brain is full), throwing things into a “f***it bucket” and waving magic wands. The most incredible step in looking after herself has been Marie Claire’s life transformation. 

Like many of us, Marie Claire followed the formulaic path; from school to university, and on to a respectable office job – “because you’re supposed to," she says.  This lifestyle culminated in a depressive episode, where this bubbling bundle of energy was reduced to a numb robot, working long hours through the week and only emerging from bed on weekends for food.  Talking with Marie-Claire now, this is difficult to imagine. 

It was the deaths of two grandparents, separately, that sparked changes.  The evolution was gradual, a transition from office work, retraining as a photographer, running her own business and now exploring how she can use her skills to spread cheekiness as a Happiness Ninja and Professional Rebel.  Marie Claire is now in the serious business of helping people work out where their happiness is and one of the many ways is by reconnecting with their inner child through workshops that explore play, glitter and general silliness.  Marie Claire still has difficult days, as we all do, this is when she prioritises looking after herself – on these days just getting out of bed is a win worth celebrating for Marie Claire, she puts her own version of step one of the #HeyAreYouOK? campaign in action.  

Fairy wands and connecting with your inner child is not for everyone.  When I chatted with Tamzin Forster my experience was contrasting.  A calming, relaxing presence at the end of the phone, made me slow down and take in the conversation at a completely different pace.  Tamzin, freelance artist and Creative Wellbeing Specialist, explains that she uses physical activity to manage stress. Her preference for exercise is something she discovered when training with a mate who was preparing for a triathlon.  Through this experience Tamzin learnt that she loved running, but her friend hated it -we are not all the same!

Tamzin is not your run-of-the-mill jogger, her secret is in the backpack she carries with her.  Like many of us, Tamzin found it difficult to prioritise looking after herself over work commitments. What she created was a guilt free running experience, an opportunity to learn, and a body of work that is helping to inspire others to look after themselves.  Tamzin is a running photographer, and she is using her work to inspire others.

At the beginning of 2016 Tamzin set herself a challenge, to run and to photograph.  The running photographer estimates she has covered a whopping 800 miles in 2016! She has partnered with local organisations to promote her way of looking after herself, and her photos have been exhibited in both Manchester – ‘Run and Talk Event’ and Stockport – ‘#ArtofRunning’ exhibition to promote physical activity and creative expression for mental health.  

Many of us want to change the world, but Step 1 of the #HeyAreYouOK? Campaign is about looking inwardly first.  Looking after ourselves is the first step to making a more compassionate world.   We all do this differently, fairy wands and unicorns to running and photography.  Looking after yourself needs to be unique to you.  What’s your looking after yourself sweet spot?

Share your looking after yourself sweet spot through social media, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.  Use the following hashtags:  #HeyAreYouOK #Step1 #Lookingaftermyself.

If you would like to learn more about the #HeyAreYouOK? Social Change campaign, visit our website.

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