How self-management changed my life

I have been working for the Mental Health Foundation on the Creating Connections project since June and was previously a volunteer, after I completed the self-management workshops myself in 2014.

As the project is now coming to an end, I am sharing my experiences of attending the workshops, organising events and volunteering and how it has made a difference to single parents who have been involved.

Having been a part of the project from the beginning, it has been an amazing experience and an opportunity that I have taken a lot away from, I have achieved things I never would have dreamed of! I have talked in front of groups of people, I have given presentations, I have organised events and facilitated workshops. I have attended training courses that I may never have found out about had I not attended the workshops, I have made new friends and built up a good support network and it has even helped me to gain employment.

The workshops have helped me, along with many other single parents with issues of isolation, increase my confidence and set personal goals, for example. I realise that I am not alone out there, and that there are other single parents in a similar (if not worse) situation to my own, which in turn helps me to appreciate all the good things I do have, like health, a roof over our heads, my son, our routines and making my own choices.

The list of positives that comes with being a single parent is vast: reminding ourselves of the positives helps us to stay focused on what we want to achieve instead of focusing on negative thoughts.. 

What is creating connections?

Creating Connections is a Big Lottery-funded project that is delivered by the Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Gingerbread, the aim of the project is to provide self-management workshops over a six week period to single parents in Cardiff and Newport.

By holding weekly sessions during school time and covering travel and childcare costs, it has given single parents an opportunity to take time to focus on things they want to achieve, to set goals and break them down into manageable steps making them more achievable. The workshops have also helped to raise our own self-awareness and has improved awareness of the importance of looking after our own mental health.

Find out more about Creating Connections

The workshops have led on to peer-support sessions, volunteering opportunities, friendship events and organising community goals. We have had a number of events organised by single parent volunteers; we have had a Halloween party, set up a choir who then performed at a care home at Christmas (while other single parent volunteers handed out gifts to residents). 

Being a part of Creating Connections has had a massive impact on my life in so many ways. I feel more positive and I don’t focus on the negatives as much as I used to. I am better able to deal with situations I would have previously found extremely stressful. This summer my ceiling sprung a leak. I am still impressed I managed to deal with it on my own without focusing on it too much and letting it ruin the rest of my day.

Before Creating Connections I would have been panicking until a plumber had turned up, all the while thinking of every negative outcome! I still have my off days, but I have learnt to be kind to myself when I do.

Have you ever had any self-management training? How did it help you? What advice would you offer to others thinking about self-management courses? It would be interesting to hear your experiences and opinions.

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