Prioritising our mental health as we embark on this journey is crucial for the wellbeing and safety of our star weaving community.
I have no doubt there are star weavers out there that adore this project as much as I do and can’t imagine not having the stars in their lives. However, the flip side and reality of this work is that running workshops with people of varying capabilities, meeting with organisations to explain One Billion Stars and hearing personal stories can be heavy and exhausting work.
So what is mental health? And why is it important?
Mental health is an important and popular topic (and rightly so) that explains our emotional, cognitive and social functioning. You can pull up lots of data and dive deep on the internet but for now we want to explain a few reasons why our mental health is critical, all day, every day, and how checking in with our own selves can help us along this unpredictable and wonderful journey of star weaving.
Our mental health is important because:
1. It helps us to cope with stress
Coping with the normal stresses of life takes practice and positive role modelling. Ever wonder why we look at children and admire their ability to be present and unbothered by “adult” responsibilities?
I feel like we can truly activate some of that stress free child-like energy by changing our perspective on how we see our adult responsibilities. As mature humans we have the ability to make choices about how we respond to the world and what activities we can participate in to lower our stress levels, like taking walks, sitting alone in a quiet spot, listening to some music, going for a run or doing yoga. For me, paddling and gym classes help me to lower my stress. Writing in my journal and spending time with girlfriends helps me to work through stressful and uncertain times.
2. It supports our productivity
When we feel well wholistically, are better able to focus and be productive in many areas of our lives including work, personal and pleasure.
Making time to recharge our batteries helps us to set goals, be clear on what we can or can’t do and ask for help accordingly. Understanding our individual mental health needs can help us identify what we need to care for our bodies, to reduce burnout and be effective in our responsibilities and to celebrate the tasks we complete.
3. It nurtures our self-esteem
Not only are we sending a message to ourselves that we are important and deserving of care but we feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities, which can lead to success and happiness in our work and personal lives.
Positive self-esteem can have a wonderful impact on our relationship with others. When we are well rested, engaged in meaningful work and less stressed, we are more likely to communicate kindness, compassion and patience with others. Healthy self-esteem means we practice these very things with ourselves so everyone wins.
Our 5 tips for caring for our mental health while showing love for the One Billion Stars project:
These points, including the 3 reasons why our mental health is important form 8 points for the framework for mental health. Enjoy!
1. Practice self-care
It’s so important to schedule and protect time for activities other than star weaving that brings you joy. That might be exercise, reading, travelling, spending time with loved ones or doing other weaving crafts.
I love weaving, especially weaving with others and I’m always thrilled to learn a new weaving technique.
Taking breaks and stepping away from the project, either by yourself or with a few of your star weavers can help you to keep things fresh. Go for a walk, go out for a meal or dancing together, anything that helps you relax and recharge. If you’re working with a team on the stars, this will help you to bond as a group and sustain your energy to achieve your stars weaving goals.
2. Identify goals:
Each Star Weaving Community has different goals. Some want to weave 1000 star, others 10,000 and a few want to weave one million. Sometimes these goals change as they progress and that’s wonderful because each community will identify what they are capable and not capable of doing.
It’s important that our communities don’t feel overwhelmed and if they do, we want people to know they can stop, take a break, regroup, pass on to someone else or come back later to it. We have until 2032 to weave one billion stars so there is time.
I’m someone who learns as they do. I will read and learn as much as I can before then, but I’m a “learn on the go” person. I will work out what doesn’t apply and what works as I’m doing things. I know now it can anywhere from 2 – 5 years for a community to weave one million stars. I could’ve calculated how long it takes me to weave a star and do maths and plans accordingly, but everyone is different and has different lifestyles and commitments.
Setting goals agreed by your team and checking in with your community consistently will help you manage expectations of others and more importantly yourself. This project is not about creating heroes and martyrs who carry and sacrifice everything.
We want our star leaders to reach their goals and to celebrate each milestone reached, no matter how small with their communities. This will help us to stay motivated and feel a sense of accomplishment.
3. Foster a supportive community
People listen to what we do, not what we say.
At One Billion Stars, we want to encourage open and transparent communication that helps to build trust and encourages everyone to speak up when they need support.
Our communities will practice this if they see us doing it.
Asking for help when we need it, being an active and empathetic listener will help create a sense of connection and understanding within the group, especially when there are times of grief and trauma that need to be addressed. We pride ourselves in encouraging diversity and inclusivity where everyone’s contributions are recognised and appreciated. At the same time, it is equally important to know our boundaries and speak up to those who do not share our values of peace, joy and safety for everyone. Being assertive in these spaces and calling our community to support us can benefit everyone.
4. Practice mindfulness
Take a few moments each day to practice mindfulness techniques such as stillness/meditation, deep breathing, or yoga.
I love the idea of scheduling in these moments, because once it’s in your diary or on your list of things to do for the day, you are accountable and have to prioritise it. If you don’t, then that’s a signal that something needs to change.
Focusing on the present moment and not worrying about the past or future can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can feel awkward sometimes to try an empty your mind but there are some awesome apps online like headspace that you can use daily to help you slow down, have better sleep and rejuvenate.
5. Seek professional help when needed
I’m a big advocate for seeking support from mental health professionals if you’re experiencing significant stress or anxiety.
I’ve seen a few over the years, mostly in person, but again there are helplines where you can call 24/7. Lifeline can be reached on 131114 or 000 both of these are Australian helplines for anyone in crisis or who needs help now.
I wasn’t sure if anyone could really understand or help me but most of the time, being able to talk to someone and feel safe was all I needed. Learning tools to process and respond to stressful situations instead of reacting has been invaluable for my life.
Star weaving and weaving in general has helped me with my mental health and saved me on a number of occasions. It’s why I’m so passionate about sharing it with others.
We hope these tips can help you on your journey to long term better mental health.
If you found this helpful, you might get some value from previous article 10 Strategies to help you be consistent and show up for your star weaving community.
Remember, there is no one size fits all when it comes to our mental health. Finding our community, being open and honest with what can do and what we need to be well, sharing the load and practicing joy in the little things, will benefit our lives and our work with the stars.
To your mental health