Advice for life and work: Rebekah Few - Freelance mental health + wellbeing consultant
Rebekah Few is an experienced freelance mental health and wellbeing consultant, facilitator and writer. She runs her own business (Not Lost, but Free) providing consultancy and training around popular psychological concepts and mental health to businesses. Her clients include Sony Music, Harrods, LinkedIn, Royal Mail and the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine.
When she moved cities from Birmingham to Brighton and left her full time position a few years ago, she pushed herself to reimagine her whole life. Her approach to life is as her business’s name suggests: free.
If you’ve ever found yourself asking the question what is the purpose of my life then Rebekah’s advice will definitely be of interest to you.
Find Rebekah's life and career advice below.
Rebekah's life advice
01. Don't forget to play
Play for adults is critical in our stressful go-go-go lives, according to Rebekah.
Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity, and it can even help to keep us young and feeling energetic. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. It has also been shown to trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells!
One of the definitions of play, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is to wield lightly and freely; to keep in motion. Who wouldn’t like to experience more moments of lightness and freedom in our days?
Play is so key and yet so often overlooked in adulthood. Fortunately we can easily create a play practice in our lives as there are many different ways to play and many different types of play. Stuart Brown, MD, has been studying play for decades and in his book, Play, he outlines the five play archetypes that he has observed during his years of research. He discussed these and more in his TED Talk, titled “Play is more than just fun”, check it out!
02. Redefine productive
When you’re trying to understand how to be productive, what you’re really seeking is a way to achieve your goals while having quality time to spend on all that matters to you. The word productivity is so closely correlated to economic efficiency and so when we're doing things that aren't related to our work / making money / ticking off things on our 'to-do' lists then we can feel guilty, as if we're being lazy.
The truth is, productivity is personal and as long as you are conscious in your choices of how to spend your time then you are being productive. Oh and btw, rest is most definitely productive.
Sometimes productivity can be a form of self-care, and sometimes self-care is the most productive thing we can do - Grace Beverly in ‘Working Hard, Hardly Working’
Read the book, which offers a fresh take on how to create your own balance, be more productive and feel fulfilled in the high-pressure social media age here
03. Get curious about everyone’s story
Rebekah loves finding out more about people through their life stories and encourages everyone to do so in order to learn, grow and positively impact their mental health. In fact, one of the public health messages that she is a fan of is the 5 ways to wellbeing.
We’re encouraged to eat at least 5 fruit and vegetables a day to take care of our physical health, but what about our mental health? Research carried out by the New Economics Foundation found that there are 5 ways to wellbeing.
Find out more via Mind's website here and note, connect is number 1. There is strong evidence that indicates that feeling close to, and valued by, other people is a fundamental human need and one that contributes to functioning well in the world.
It’s clear that social relationships are critical for promoting wellbeing and for acting as a buffer against mental ill health for people of all ages.
With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection.
Talk to someone instead of sending an email
Speak to someone new
Ask how someone’s weekend was and really listen when they tell you
Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is
Give a colleague a lift to work or share the journey home with them.
Rebekah's career advice
01. Network in a 3 tiered approach
Rebekah has built out her freelance work by networking in 3 key ways, these are:
In person - by going to coworking spaces and attending events
Online - via her website and LinkedIn
By partnering with organisations that will outsource work to her
Networking is an ongoing process, it requires confidence, consistency and kindness in your approach. Whether you're looking to find work via an employed role or through freelancing then you'll need to start by being clear on what you're able to offer. Once you have nailed that, it's time to build your confidence, reaching out to those who will want to hear from you and then stay consistent and kind (to yourself and to those you approach). Everything will stem from there!
02. Learn to love learning
Us humans are built to learn. That’s what separates us so drastically from other animals: we love to learn, and we’re very, very good at it. Maybe you’re someone who loved learning once but became disillusioned with the times-table-chanting and constant memorisation that you did at school. Or maybe you’ve never liked learning because you associate it with the boredom and drudgery that formal education so often inspires. Real learning, however, isn’t about passing an exam. It has nothing to do with routine memorisation and useless regurgitation of facts. It’s about thinking about the world in a new way, gaining the knowledge and skills to make our ambitions a reality - transforming you into the best version of yourself.
Rebekah loves to read books, to attend classes and groups and to talk to people to learn. We, at Favourite Positions, love to listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos to learn. Others love to research to learn. There are so many ways to learn, once you find ways you enjoy then you'll open the door to endless growth opportunities and the world will feel bigger and more exciting.
Check out this piece here on Learning to Love Learning in 4 Simple Steps.
03. Ask yourself how much money you need
Inspired by Rebekah's own choices not to push herself to create surplus income, let's talk about how to work out how much money you really need to be happy.
Here are 2 exercises to help you do just that.
First, find a quiet place and write down your answers to these questions. Be honest with yourself (your answers to these questions will change over time and that is perfectly normal)
What kind of life do I want to live?
What do I really love?
What is my mission?
What does the perfect day look like?
What do I want to be my legacy?
Now you've thought about the life you to live, you just needed to figure out how much money it would cost to live that life. You can start calculating what you need over a year and then break it down into monthly, and finally daily increments:
What is the minimum amount of money I need each month to live the life I want?
How much money do I need to maximise my happiness?
How much do I need to take care of my families basic needs?
How much money would I like to have in savings?
How much money do I need to help others?
These exercises can help you work out figures to aim for and they may well be a lot less than you had anticipated. A 2011 documentary Happy explored the phenomena that happiness is intrinsic. Following the stories of people who live in poverty yet are truly happy with life, the film argues that happiness can't always be bought.
Milana Perepyolkina, international bestselling author of two books about happiness, says 'often when you see people who live in very poor conditions, such as makeshift plastic tents with all of their possessions fitting in one bag, you will notice joyful, bright smiles. How can someone who has almost nothing be so happy? This is because they are grateful for what they have: their life, their family, and their community'.
Can money buy happiness? There may never be one solid answer. While happiness can rise or fall with income levels, Rebekah says that a person's true sense of emotional well-being ultimately depends on their life circumstances, values, and personal needs.
Check out Rebekah's insights over on her site here!
Big love, thank you for your support