Boosted by well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, a lot of us will be thinking of joining a gym, or at least going out for a run if and when the weather ever picks up. But should we be equally determined to improve our mental as well as our physical health?
“Most of us will spend at least 10 minutes a day showering or washing, making food, reading a book or newspaper, on social media, a call to a friend or shopping, but few of us spend any time on our mental health, strength and happiness,” says Owen O’Kane.
Anxiety and trauma were common in Northern Ireland with constant threat and uncertainty always present
O’Kane has developed a system combining various techniques called Ten to Zen that he believes can change our outlook in just a few minutes every day. It was developed from his work as clinical lead for a mental health service in London, and a lifetime of personal experience.
“I grew up in Belfast during the Troubles. Shootings, bombing and riots were commonplace,” he explains. “My uncle was shot dead during this period, leaving a wife and four young kids behind. Anxiety and trauma were common in Northern Ireland with constant threat and uncertainty always present.”
Besides the all-too-evident external unrest, O’Kane also felt internal conflict.
“Self-acceptance is strongly linked to good mental wellbeing,” he continues. “Many people struggle with identity, sexuality, weight, class – and learning to accept yourself is a key step to a healthier mind. I know this personally growing up gay in Northern Ireland.