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"... on the Mind"

By modefor, Mar 31 2020 08:12AM

*** Trigger warnings: reference to death & suicide ***

I’ve titled this editorial ‘The Art of Grief’ because, having experienced, thought and spoken about the subject in some depth and for some time now, I’ve come to the conclusion that grief is like a work of art.

It’s messy and unique, it’s sometimes difficult to understand, it’s striking and bold or subtle and unclear and sometimes it’s utterly beautiful and full of love. The understanding and feeling of grief, like art, is personal to the person viewing and experiencing it. None of us will ever experience, live or feel it in the same way.

“I get the messy and difficult but how is grief beautiful?” I hear you ask. No, I’m not completely delusional, but most of the time I choose to embrace my grief as one of the most beautiful things I have in my life. It is every moment and every memory and expression of love and happiness that paints the most vivid pictures that bring a smile and an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude. That is beautiful; the memories and the reflection of all that was and still is amazing.

Grief is something that we will all experience at some point in our life and sadly, as we witness the global pandemic of COVID-19 and are faced daily with news of death and loss of people we both know and complete strangers, we witness how grief becomes a reality for us all.

COVID-19 has not only changed our way of life, but the way of death too. Here in the UK, we are living in a world where no loved ones can be at the hospital bedside of those in pain and dying and limits of five people at a funeral.

For those losing loved ones during this time of global uncertainty and lockdown, my heart breaks for you. I have so much gratitude for the fact that I could hold my husband until he took his very last breath; I could reassure him and tell him I love him.

He too died in the same way as many victims of Coronavirus; not from the cancer he had fought but the complications that led to ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome). It was a heart-breaking battle with oxygen (the necessity that keeps us alive and breathing) that he couldn’t overcome and the ventilators and oxygen just weren’t enough. He was weak and compromised, but he had me by his side.

Regardless of how someone dies, whatever our experience or our loss, the emotions and feelings are real, strong, unique and personal.

I’m not just talking about grief as a consequence of death from a virus though. Millions of people, like me, are already living with grief and many will experience the death of friends and family during this time of lockdown due to natural causes, other illnesses, accident and suicide.

Factor into this that death is not the only way to experience grief and you soon see that so many of us are experiencing something that is still a taboo subject and yet no one wants to talk about it; but you know me… I’ll start the conversations about grief and mental health and any other taboo subject because it’s important, it’s necessary and by talking we can better understand, empathise and support ourselves and others.

By lifting the mask on our grief, we show a beautiful honesty that can truly help, support and strengthen others.

So how else can we experience grief if it’s not always about death?

It could be the loss of a job, work or a business, a relationship or a pet. It could be the consequence of not being able to do the things and see the people you love due to lockdown. It could be the feeling of isolation and loneliness; the loss of your lifestyle and routine as you know it and the not being able to be there for others as you once had.

Today, as a self-employed business owner in an economically unstable climate I can also feel the pressure mounting to not lose my business; the possibility and pressure is real and if my business didn’t make it, I know I would mourn and grieve the loss for years to come. The thought that every moment of hard work I had put in over the last 12 years, every part of the legacy of my husband and all he worked hard for just gone? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

There are so many ways you can experience grief and right now, as the world is on lockdown, maybe more people than ever are experiencing the emotional rollercoaster that is grief.

Now add that feeling onto the shoulders of those living with grief following death and you can see why, for the benefit of better mental health, we need to be talking more about this subject.

This is why I’m happy to talk honestly based on my personal experience and also share with you a few ways I found that can help us to help ourselves whilst we settle into co-habitation with grief.

Five Tips for Living with Grief

• Keep talking and sharing: open, honest, non-judgemental conversation not only makes us feel better, but empathy and sharing experiences can help others to both understand and know they are not alone.

• Allow yourself to feel your emotions: you will experience everything from happiness to sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety, joy, love, pain and so much more, often within the space of the same minute. Embrace those feelings and feel them in all the weirdness, inappropriateness and confusing ways they fire at you. This is good and normal to feel something.

• Build your resilience: I honestly believe you don’t ever get over grief; it doesn’t go away, but instead it becomes a part of us which we embrace, manage and co-exist with. Whilst you accept it won’t go away, work on building resilience which will be your key to managing and living with it day-to-day harmoniously.

• Don’t feel guilt or shame: you must NEVER feel guilt or shame for feeling your emotions and living with grief or your response to grief, regardless of why you are grieving or how long you have been experiencing it. There are no rules, boundaries or timescales. Your experience is unique to you, but building your resilience will help massively improve your response to grief and how you continue to move forwards at the same time as learning to live with it.

• Love yourself: yes, learn to love yourself exactly as you are. This means being kind to yourself, looking after yourself and becoming resilient and strong to be the happiest version of yourself even in the times that feel hardest. Focus on the things that are good for you and don’t be concerned with the uninvited opinion of others.

There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about and feel a whole ocean of emotions following the deaths of my husband, my Dad, my brother, my pets my friends, other family and complete strangers but alongside the pain and sadness there is so much love, beauty and gratitude and this is what I hold on to; what makes me smile and creates my happiness.

Grief, in any form and for any reason, is cruel. It is an emotional baseball bat with a mind of its own and by hell, it knows how to take a massive swipe when we least expect it. We can’t control it, but we can control our response to it and that is going to be the single action that helps you manage it; controlling your response.

Grief is, and will be, a part of all our lives; let’s just talk about it, make it less taboo and in the process help ourselves be less scared and try instead to see and focus on the beauty, happiness and love of memories that paint the art of grief.

Much Love

Tabby xxx

If you need or want to talk my virtual door is always open. Just visit www.modefor.co.uk or www.facebook.com/modefor

Further support is available from:

The Samaritans - phone 116 123

Cruse Bereavement Care – phone 0808 808 1677

By modefor, Mar 29 2020 10:47AM

Here in the UK we have reached our first weekend of the enforced lockdown due to COVID-19.


You may well have just made it through your first week working from home whilst entertaining the kids, or your first week of being home alone, so well done! Be proud of yourself.


Now, as it goes, I’m a bit of a pro at this lockdown malarkey and working from home as I’ve been self-employed working alone from the comfort of my own surroundings for the last 20 years!


I also feel like I’ve spent the last 16 months self-isolating following the death of my husband… so, yes! I have the skills of resiliency and putting your mental health first in order to get through some really shitty stuff!


Actually, side note, I was just at the point where I thought I might start getting out and about more and hitting the world socially again when the world said: “hey! Not today…social isolation for you!” Should I read anything into this?


Anyhow, I want to share with you some of my tips for surviving the lockdown (whether this is your first soirée into working from home, your first time being home alone or being separated from those you love) which put a strong focus on your mental health, because good mental health is what we all need to focus on right now, as well as keeping good physical health…. Yes peeps… wash your hands and stay at home. So, here goes:

Plan your day: routine will give you self-confidence & will help with productivity.

Move more: Not only does exercise keep you fit, it helps with your wellbeing and sleep.

Nutrition for the mind, body and spirit: staying hydrated and eating nutritiously are vital for good health and they also have a massive impact on your mental health too. Now, there will be days when all we need is a bottle of red wine and some mini eggs and that’s cool; do that, just don’t make it every day. Feed your mind, body and spirit with every bit of nutrition it needs to stay fit and healthy and boost your mood. We all know that too much red wine and mini eggs makes you feel crap.

Relaxation techniques: Find what does it for you as a good relaxation technique helps with anxiety and sleep. It could be mindfulness, meditation, reading, listening to music, cooking, dancing, yoga… could be anything which works for YOU.

Creativity: Find something new or existing to do that uses your creative brain. Engaging some creativity in what and how we do things can be a massive boost for our minds.

Reflection: The world is a crazy place right now and there are many situations we can’t control, so focus on what you can control to feel more grounded and calm. Being grateful for the positive things is a powerful tool in your armoury right now. Gratitude brings a sense of calm and security and you can ether take a few moments to think about what you’re grateful for each day or write them down, then, when times feel tough, you can have a read of what you’ve written and it can really help.

Take time out: We all need time out for ourselves; whether that is to sit and think, enjoy our hobbies or try something new. If you are alone, you still need to take time out for your own headspace and if you’re at home with several people, make sure you all take time for yourselves, in a separate room, just some privacy and space for you. We need this for our own sanity and mental health and just five minutes away from the family can really benefit your health and wellbeing.

Stay connected: Working from home and self-isolation can be a huge strain on our mental health and loneliness is a very real problem for many. We keep being told to socially distance ourselves from each other. I think this is a poor choice of words and we need a mindset tweak and to use better language. Yes, we ABSOLUTELY MUST physically distance ourselves in order to beat this pandemic BUT we need to focus on being more socially engaging with each other (in safe ways) for better mental health. So, a big yes to ‘phone calls, texts, video chats and the use of online platforms and apps such as Zoom, Facetime, WhattsApp and Houseparty. Now more than ever we need to get talking and keep communicating with each other and you can be creative with this organising online events and meet-ups, but connect with people daily.

Mental health is a very individual experience and right now our mental health is being tested to the max, so it’s hugely important for us to build resilience.

The above ideas will help you build that resilience to stay strong during lockdown which will then be strong and positive habits you have put in place for life going forwards and supporting your own mental health.

Resilience is key and your having good mental health is vital.

If you want to work on your resilience skills you can join me on my Focus & Flex event on Monday 6th April. Details are here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/focus-flex-tickets-100811225088

If you need more support my virtual door is always open or you can seek further support from organisations such as the Samaritans by calling 116123

Much Love

Tabby xxx

By modefor, Mar 29 2020 10:45AM

As I write this, the world is experiencing something completely unprecedented as it faces the unknown quantity that is COVID-19.

Many people are in self-isolation, working from home, looking after children as schools are closed, cancelling events for the foreseeable future and businesses are closed and struggling.

It is worrying times and worry can lead to anxiety for everyone and if you already live with anxiety or other mental health issues, these times have never been tougher.

We all have mental health which works on a continuum; sometimes our mental health is good and sometimes it’s not and we can slide to any point on that scale at any moment of any day.

The current climate is giving people more awareness of their own mental health as the worry and reality of COVID-19 hits.

Overwhelm and anxiety are something that can easily affect us all, but there are things we can do to help ourselves both generally and in specifically at this time.

I’ve put together a few coping strategies for managing anxiety which can easily be implemented by you when you need a little support to bring some calmness into your life.

Not all these ideas will work for everyone, but hopefully from these ideas you can find a few which you can build into your good daily habits.

So, in no particular order…


Breathing is the most fundamental thing we can do to not only survive, but to keep anxiety levels controlled and bring some calm to ourselves when all around is moving so fast.

There are many focussed breathing techniques you can use, but two of my favourites are simple yoga breathing - slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth - and ‘4, 7, 8’ breathing. This is when you breath in for 4 beats, hold for 7 and out over 8.

By making your out breath longer than your in breath, you will help slow your heart rate and bring a sense of calm.


I cannot tell you how important sleep is for managing your mental health.

After breathing, I think sleep is the most important thing we can do to help our minds and body rest and heal. But some people struggle to sleep well

With a combination of other things I’ve mentioned such as hydration, diet, exercise, breathing exercises, reading and meditation we can all improve our sleep patterns. In the current climate, the best thing we can stockpile is sleep.

Be kind to yourself, embrace emotions

It’s really important to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself up when you’re riding a rollercoaster of emotions.

Supressing emotions can be really detrimental to our mental health and the best thing we can do is let them be, understand them, accept them, let them pass and move on with more resilience.

Cry and laugh when you need to. Never feel bad or self-conscious about feeling happy or sad. Embrace the emotions, be honest with yourself and others about how you feel and share that gem of knowledge with everyone.

Make Yourself Feel Good

Especially when we are deprived of doing what we normally do in terms of going out and taking part in things, do everything you can do to make yourself feel good.

Stay healthy with nutritious food, home exercise regimes, fresh air and hydration and do all you can to make yourself feel good.

Have that pamper session, wear the nice underwear, get dressed up. Even if no-one will see it, this is about making yourself feel good and happy.

Days when I’ve got a great matching underwear set on are days I feel like I’m winning!

For more food and nutrition advice check out The Food Ninja.

Review & reflect

Take time to understand and accept situations, review your current environment and situation and reflect on what has gone and what is, purely as a means to make a conscious decision about how to move forwards in the best way for you.

We don’t and must not reflect to feel sadness and wallow in things that have passed, but by reflecting we can learn and move forwards with strength and resilience.


Even in the hardest of times, laughter, humour and smiling will help us through so spread that stuff around like glitter.

Find some funny cat videos or your favourite comedian to watch, read a joke book, smile at the person on the other side of the street.

Whatever you do, do it with a smile.


Writing things down is a really great way to accept and understand your emotions and feelings with a view to managing anxiety.

Regular journaling, can really help you understand yourself in order to build resilience and the opportunity to write down how you really feel is quite cathartic. The process of reading your words back can also help you to get to grips with your own emotions.


Losing yourself in a good book does not only help learning, it can help the mind be free and imaginative. It gives your mind permission to step away from its own thoughts and anxieties and to get some much-needed rest.

With so many ways to read and so many different books, reading is a never-ending source of help and support.

I like to have several books on the go at the same time; a mix of autobiographies, self-help, business and novels.


Meditation doesn’t mean you have to have the skills and patience of a meditation guru!

Just taking a few minutes to sit quietly with your eyes closed, focus on your breathing and be at one with your thoughts can really help to bring a sense of calm and control anxiety.

There are plenty of guided meditations on YouTube and other similar places, or you can use and app on your phone to assist.


A couple of great apps for meditation and helping with anxiety are ‘Headspace’ and ‘Calm’.

I use ‘Calm’ not just for the meditations but also the sleep stories meditation lessons.

Headspace has just released some new free content too called ‘Weathering the Storm.’

You can use these (and other) apps for free with in app purchases available.


Mindfulness does not have to be all ‘woo woo’ but in fact it’s just the appreciation and skill of being in the here and now; not worrying what has gone or what is ahead but just focussing on what is around you right now.

You can be mindful whilst walking, playing or listening to music, cooking, eating and many more ways.

Simply take a moment to appreciate your current surroundings. That could be what you see, taste, hear, touch, smell; utilise all your senses to help ground yourself.

Switch off notifications

Many of us spend a great deal of time on social media and our ‘phones and as we change our habits due to self-isolation, working from home and lockdowns we are likely to find ourselves online more than ever.

In order to manage our anxiety and overwhelm better, it’s advisable to switch off the notifications on your ‘phone so you can be self-disciplined and more in control of your own usage.

Stay away from news

Yes, this is hard, especially as we want to know all the latest breaking news surrounding this global pandemic, but a lot of news stories are sensationalised and this is not good for our anxiety levels.

News is 24/7 these days, but our usage of it doesn’t have to be. Re-order news feeds, switch off notifications and only check in on the news at designated times on your terms. Your anxiety levels will thank you for it.

Surround yourself with uplifting info

Once you’ve made a choice to limit the sensationalised news and stories, surround yourself with uplifting information. Find some great online resources and groups or books and magazines and get involved with as many things that make you smile and feel involved as possible.

Find people and groups who ground you

Staying grounded is key in managing anxiety. Surround yourself with amazing people who will keep you in check, have your health and interests at heart and will be there for you in moments of both joy and crisis.

Having people and groups you trust is paramount, so choose who is best for you and who makes you feel safe and included. Don’t be afraid to talk to these people when you need to and share your feelings and emotions. You are not a burden and your level of understanding could be the kind of non-judgemental listening someone else needs, so be there for each other. Your tribe is everything.

Be a reducer not a producer

Be the person that helps to reduce anxiety and not produce it. You are not alone in things so put all the coping strategies in place to help yourself and this will help reduce the anxiety in yourself and others.

Think what you do have control over

You have control over your choices and your actions. Don’t be led by news and social media hype and panic. Make your own judgements, take the advice of experts and control your choices. By taking charge of your decisions you will be able to limit overwhelm and anxiety and make the best judgements for you.

Is your response appropriate

When everything around you feels chaotic and out of control, the one thing we must control is our response to situations.

It’s so important to ACT and not REACT to things. Choose your response wisely after you’ve asked yourself if your actions or words are necessary, kind and appropriate.

How we act to things helps us keep emotions and anxiety in check.

How can you influence a situation?

Once you have decided on the appropriate response to an event or situation ask yourself how you can influence things positively. Can your knowledge or understanding help someone else to feel better so the mutual support will help you all through?

Try to find ways to think positively and influence a situation for emotional and physical benefit of yourself and others.


Creativity is good for the soul. Whether it’s a creative hobby, creative thinking or learning new creative skills, focusing on something creative can help with your mental health.

Music, writing, drawing, painting, colouring-in, sewing, knitting, cooking; there are so many ways to get creative so find your thing.

Create a new routine

We can be a little habitual and often that gives us comfort when trying to manage our anxiety, but the reality is these times call for a tweak to our usual routines, but this doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming.

First, with the other work we’ve done on our minds in place, we can accept the situation and rationally accept it. We can then prepare to take different measures.

See things as an opportunity; an opportunity to cook different foods, an opportunity to communicate differently and safely with people, an opportunity to build new exercise regimes at home, a new way to work, a new way to school our children.

The best thing about opportunity is that we get to create exactly what works for us, in a way that works for us. So, make small actions and changes and be consistent with them to create new routines and habits.


It’s good to know that your current situation and feelings will pass and so we are not stuck in the ‘here and now’ but we can look to future plans and goals.

Have a mix of small goals to get you through each moment of each day and some big amazing goals to strive for. Be as creative as you like and make them all exciting.

What’s positive

From every situation, no matter how overwhelming it feels at the time, there will be a positive if you look for it. Finding the positive in a seemingly negative scenario is what can help our anxiety as it gives us hope that things are within our control and understanding.

When anxiety starts to bubble due to the chaos around you, stop and take a moment to step back, view things from every perspective and look for that small glimmer of positivity and then build on it.

What can you learn?

Finally, the most important thing we can do (after breathing and sleeping!) is to learn and develop. Be open to learning about yourself, your emotions and those of other people.

A focus on learning and development can help us manage anxiety because we can see the point in things and understand and accept that everything has purpose and meaning. When we understand that, we can create better coping strategies for ourselves and move forwards with purpose and a renewed vigour.

Just remember you are never alone; together we can support ourselves and each other and I’m always here and happy to help.

Much Love

Tabby xxx

If you want some friendship, online happiness or to join in the conversation to support better mental health and help yourself and others, then hop on over to my page at www.facebook.com/modefor or my #createmyhappy group at www.facebook.com/groups/createmyhappy

By modefor, Mar 24 2020 12:14PM

There is no doubting that we are all living in times of uncertainty in the current climate of the global pandemic COVID-19 and that sense of instability can be really unsettling, whether you live with mental health issues or not.

The current global situation means we have to find new ways to go about our lives and business safely, without putting ourselves or others at risk and in the main this means living more of an ‘online and virtual’ life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have all been told that we can no longer physically join together as brass musicians in our rehearsals and performances. This is the action and responsibility we have to take in order to protect ourselves, save lives and help the world heal.

But it may be that your usual wellbeing strategy is going to your brass band rehearsals. This could be the thing that helps you relax, feel a sense of calm and security and help you shut off from the every day pressures of life, work and everything going on in the world. Without our regular band rehearsals and performances, we are left with a void in our lives.

So, what do we do when that privilege of meeting up like normal is taken away from us?

Last week I published an article featuring coping strategies for anxiety, which you can read here: https://www.facebook.com/Modefor/posts/10157710702451418

But here are some coping strategies and ideas for boosting your wellbeing and mental health and that of your brass band family when your brass band rehearsals are cancelled:

• Join and online brass band rehearsal. Last week I hosted the first ever online brass band rehearsal with over 70 musicians around the UK. Chaos but fun. People still got to play and socialise from the comfort of their own homes and we hung around afterwards for a drink and chat. More details on the pinned post at www.facebook.com/modefor

• Set-up a weekly online meet-up and chat on what would be your usual rehearsal times. You can do this using many online platforms such as Zoom, WhattsApp and Houseparty app.

• Organise your own online band rehearsal. I host mine using Zoom. You can even find some resources online for free PDF music. I have supplied some for free at www.modeforpublishing.com

• Download some digital versions of brass band CDs to listen to. Listening to music is great therapy and you could discover some great performances and support other bands and musicians by purchasing their music. Check this one out www.modeforpublishing.com/audio/4594750000

• Inspire the youngsters in your band with online lessons and group sessions. You can either host your own or join up with the work of local teachers. Again, I’ve released free brass teaching methods for all during COVID-19 over at www.modeforpublishing.com

• Have a look at the Facebook pages of your favourite brass musicians as many are hosting brass lessons and performances that we can all access which they would not normally have time to deliver.

• Check out the various brass band Facebook groups and brass band media for details of various brass musical challenges.

• Create your own band challenge.

• Get an mp3 track of your favourite piece, send it to your members, ask them to play along to it and video themselves then get your best band techy wizard to collate the video just as The Cory Band has (www.facebook.com/coryband/)

• Like, share and comment on posts and pages of small businesses, musicians and bands that work hard in our brass band movement.

• Take some time out to put in the practise you never normally have time for and become the best player you can be. If you need and want some advice and ideas then reach out to your favourite musicians to learn and be inspired.

• Create a network where you can check in on your friends and fellow bandspeople. If anyone is not online, pick-up the phone, send a postcard (you can use the Touchnote app so you don’t have to go to the Post Office).

• If you want some extra support for mental health then join my group at www.facebook.com/groups/brassonthemind where I am on hand to support you.

The most important things we can do right now are look after our mental and physical health, be creative in how we do what we love and communicate with as many people as possible to check they are safe and well too.

Brass bands are not non-essential; they are essential for our wellbeing and now is the time for our bands to pull together more than ever and together we can weather this storm and get back to performing music in the bands we love.

We might be on lockdown, but we can still be inspired, we can still communicate and share in our passion and we can still perform, albeit in a slightly new way.

Things are different, but different doesn’t have to mean bad.

Much Love

Tabby xxx

By modefor, Jan 29 2020 11:59AM

Mental Health is coming to the forefront of conversations in bandrooms across the UK thanks to an overwhelming response to the ‘Brass on the Mind… in the Bandroom’ project which I have launched.

The project, is allowing me to visit bandrooms across the UK to raise awareness of mental health, address the language, resilience and support of mental health and wellbeing for our brass band musicians and help bands incorporate better communication, support structures and mental health policies in their organisations.

These sessions are designed as a stepping-stone to mental health awareness courses or the full Mental Health First Aid training and offer an opportunity for the whole band, conductor and non-musical supports to work together in a mental and musical development session which fits in to band’s usual rehearsal time.

Over the course of the two-hour session we work together to look at what mental health is and it’s importance, how to build a strong, resilient, supportive, fun, musical and social environment and how everyone can be a contribution in order to strengthen mental health of ourselves and those around us. I focus on areas such as language, confidence and anxiety through a mixture of conversation, playing music and expert research from mental health professionals, musical, business and sporting philosophers and psychologists.

I’m so delighted that the uptake on the sessions has been overwhelming and the response to me bringing mental health to the forefront of our attention in the brass band movement has been very positive at every level of banding. There has, of course, been some scepticism but this is a good thing as scepticism leads to conversations, awareness and education for all of us and that is what this is about; making more people aware of the benefits of good mental health, after all, we all have mental health.

I tailor the sessions for each band and they work as a stand-alone session or as part of pre-competition development. Contests have a massive impact on mental health so in the sessions we focus not just on the music the band is preparing, but how to prepare our minds for better confidence and performance skills. Just like athletes who spend a lot of time strengthening their mental fitness as well as physical fitness, in bands we need to focus not on just what we’re performing but how we perform. As such, I’m really looking forward to working with some bands ahead of the Regional Brass Band Championships to bring a different approach and perspective to their competitive development.

With no official funding in place yet for mental health support in brass bands, Mode for… is subsiding many sessions in order to bring this valuable information bandrooms across the UK so drop me a message to find out more and let’s create something great in your bandroom, whatever ‘section’ you are in. This is vital for everyone.

Bookings are available throughout the year, with some sessions still available ahead of the Regional Brass Band Championships, so why not try something different for your Area prep?

Much Love

Tabby xxx

The Blog written by Tabby Kerwin focussing on possibility, productivity &  performance, with a focus on resilience, creativity & mental health.