A lived experience perspective from Inspirational Speaker on the Lived Experience of Mental Health — Nick Elston.

Hey everyone,

First & foremost — I hope that you are all staying safe, well & strong at this time.

Even though we are all in it together — with our own set of unique challenges & circumstances — this fact can also increase our state of overwhelm & constant underlying anxiety & dread.

I’ve put together these ‘lived experience’ tips in the hope it will help & inspire people — right when they may need it most.

All of what I share are techniques & learnings that I have used along my own journey through Mental Illness & Mental Health — through recovery but also day to day maintaining & boosting a positive mindset.

I am not a medical professional, but I am a very active sign poster, Mental Health First Aider & Champion for many organisations promoting positive Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives & solutions.

Disclaimer done — we’ll move on to the tips!

Never Assume

Mark Twain said that some of the worst things in my life…. never actually happened — how true is that!

We are hardwired to look for danger — we assume a negative outcome to most of our pursuits — especially when you throw in Mental Health challenges — but also low self-esteem & low self-confidence.

Add overwhelm, disconnection & isolation to the mix — it’s very easy to understand why people can struggle to see any positive right now.

We also become highly sensitive & highly emotional — even more so if you are prone to that behaviour anyway — so we are — to some degree — making decisions from a position of fear.

So, what can you do right now?

‘Never assume’ — if the world’s greatest minds don’t know the extent of the COVID-19 Pandemic — an end date — or even what the end looks like — then who are we to take a stab at that?

The tips that follow will give you a great idea on what you can do to help put that resolve in place!

Set Boundaries

  1. Your working space. Where possible, work somewhere different to that where you relax, socialise and switch off. If that isn’t possible, then at least pack everything away at the end of your working day to ensure it’s out of sight — then out of mind.
  2. Your working day. Stick to your usual working times. If you are self-employed & suddenly no business, furloughed or out of work — put your focus into Personal Development, Professional Development & in the case of the Self-Employed — work on the bigger picture of the business — so you give yourself every chance of not just surviving this — but thriving through it!
  3. Your relationships. Look, I guess we choose to live with people that we love — but we are not used to this level of immersion — especially if you throw in parenting or caring — so this can be tough. We need to have the courage to set boundaries to preserve some time for ourselves — even just 30 mins a day as a sanity check to ensure that you have a healthy spot of time for yourself.


Sounds simple, eh? But if we do not move — we become lethargic, run the risk of back pain and decreased physical health which in turn affects our Mental Health, of course.

Depending on where you live — it could be difficult to get out right now for our allotted one piece of exercise — but if you can — use this chance to run, walk, walk the dog & get some fresh air.

However, for those — like myself — who are self-isolated or do not have the chance to get out and about — even simple things like setting an alarm every hour to walk around, get a glass of water, doing a household chore every day — it all helps.

I am fortunate enough to have a garden — so when I have had telephone meetings — I have been getting my steps in, in the sunshine & fresh air — walking around the garden whilst I speak. I am actually wearing in a new path!

As someone who is also doing Couch to 5K — I haven’t got a big garden so have been doing this on the spot — actually a lot tougher workout with no movement or momentum!

Stay Connected

Officially — we were instructed to STAY HOME, SAVE LIVES, PROTECT OUR NHS & most recently STAY ALERT, CONTROL THE VIRUS, SAVE LIVES — either way we are still in a lockdown situation — these are unprecedented times.

As an introvert (I recharge in my own company) I thrive on recovering in my own space, I need to ring fence that to be able to recharge, reset & go again the day after.

But right now, as we don’t know when this ‘limbo’ will end — we are kind of living in a Groundhog Day scenario of ‘get up — do our best with what we can for the day-go to sleep-rinse & repeat!’ — I really get a boost from engagement with the outside world through video calling.

Now more than ever we need to stay connected — but also proactively check in on people that may not naturally reach out.

We live in a time where we can reach anyone, anywhere globally — so please do stay connected — you are not alone — I’m always happy to hear from you — you can reach me through www.nickelston.com.

Share Your Challenges

It’d be very easy right now to keep ‘The Mask’ on — hiding how we truly feel from people because we could feel scared, fearful or vulnerable.

If you are struggling right now — please do reach out — to someone you trust, to organisations such as MindMental Health UK or the Samaritans — to name but a few trusted professional organisations.

Again, I am very happy to signpost you too — so please drop me a line nick@nickelston.com as I have a suite of trusted ‘solution bringers’ that will be able to help you.

Get Dressed!

Again, sounds simple — but — the act of getting dressed forms another part of keeping a routine — it signals positive intent when going into the day & makes you feel a lot more ‘special’ than if you hang around in your pants all day!

You may see me on video with my customary cap & shirt on — I promise you I have jeans on too! 🙂

It follows the same amazing talk as this one on the importance of making your bed. Check it out!


The importance of sleep is MASSIVE — it has an almost instant impact on our Wellbeing when we experience a great nights sleep — here are some tips on doing just that;

Have a bath or shower before bedtime — helps you relax — plus you are clean!

Avoid white or blue light (tablets/smartphones) for an hour before bed — the light sends signals to your brain to release chemicals to keep you awake.

Do a Gratitude list — 10 things that you loved about today — it switches your mindset to one of seeking the positive. When we feel better, we feel more secure, we sleep well, rest & recharge well & are strong to go again the day after.

Engage Wisely!

Show of hands — who reading this has been overwhelmed by all of the reporting of Coronavirus, COVID-19 and it’s devastating effects?


It’s like a dangerous, dark soap opera- which has become so all consuming — that it is truly hard to switch off.

However, engaging wisely is exactly what we need to do.

I now ONLY watch the Government update every evening — because everything else is just speculation.

I have unfollowed & blocked the new ‘C’ word from my Social Media lists that I follow & only engage on positive, constructive & inspirational content — now more than ever.

But also — engage wisely with the people you are surrounding yourself with — both virtually and non-virtually!

Non-virtually — remember people can be reacting and overreacting very differently right now — so extra helpings of patience, understanding & compassion are needed — it’d be absolutely terrible to be in isolation in a toxic environment — so practice self-care, breathing techniques, meditation & mindfulness in those moments where your anxiety & anger spikes!

Virtually — don’t forget YOU choose who YOU engage with — so surround yourself online with a community that lifts you, keep in touch with your family and friends more often than usual — but also use this space to work out who is good for you and who isn’t?

If we do this — we will not only come through this smarter & stronger — but maybe even happier too!


Why ‘r’ecovery — with a small ‘r’?

Because I don’t mean the big RECOVERY — from serious illness, heart attack, mental illness — I mean the EVERYDAY recovery that we all need to have in place to ensure we stay strong, healthy, recharge — empowering us to go again tomorrow!

Firstly — are you an Introvert or are you an Extrovert?

What do I mean?

An introvert recharges in their own company.

An extrovert recharges in the company of others.

Of course, there is a scale — but knowing where you are on that scale could make a HUGE impact on your life!

What forms our recovery?

Well other than the obvious — eating well, resting well & exercising — it’s also bringing in the emotional stuff too.

More on that on my YouTube channel under the #2minutetopics playlist.

Self-care & self-awareness are the biggest superpowers you can possess right now!

Wrapping up

It’s when people lose hope — or the hope of something better — that it can become quite dangerous, quite dark — and right now it can be easy to start to believe that this is not going to end.

But it will.

Our responsibility to ourselves is to do our best every day — to go again every day — to give ourselves every chance of not just surviving this, but coming through this smarter, stronger & happier!

For those who know me well — you know I am a Country Music fan — and I love to end on a Country Music quote — one that isn’t about losing your dog or your missus 🙂

‘Every Storm Runs Out Of Rain’

Whether it’s you — or whether it’s someone who shares with you — the message of hope is the most positive one that you can deliver.

Essentially in Life — people just want to be heard & understood — and when they are, they will find their own way forward — so we have a responsibility to actively listen & actively signpost.

But we do not need to take on the burden of trying to ‘fix’ anyone — unless you are a medical professional of course!

Be a force for good — after this, we will be judged on how we acted & reacted right now — in life & in business.

*Essential & Key Workers

Until next time…


Nick 🧢