A local woman who started her own holistic health business is asking people to be more mindful of others’ feelings during this year’s Mental Health Awareness week.

Starting May 10, the theme for this year’s national campaign is ’nature and the environment.’

Due to the global pandemic, there is now a worldwide mental health crisis as people cope with not seeing their family or friends for months and as restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the ability to cope with a ’new normal’ can be an inner turmoil for some with mental health problems.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of adults who showed signs of depression in England and Wales increased by 16% from 2019 to 2020.

One woman who is championing mental health awareness is Jules Hobbs. She started Hobbs Holistic Health in February 2018 after studying sports massage and nutrition.

Ballasalla-based Holistic Health champions working with the ’whole’ person to improve overall health, energy and outlook.

Rather than a disease or prescription-based approach to health care, a holistic practitioner uses a wellness-based model to treat everything - mind, body, spirit, and beyond, focussing on the person’s whole wellbeing.

She said: ’I knew I wanted to help people and I wanted to help people feel good.

’I remember my first synopsis as it were was "feeling good on the inside and out". I also started studying nutrition and then over the years it’s grown.’

Jules moved to London in 2017 working as an assistant yoga studio manager before moving back to the island last year.

’I learnt a lot from all of the different people in London at the yoga studio and I just felt like my eyes felt more "open" to what people were going through in their mental health space,’ she said.

’I’d also suffered from poor mental health and part of the reason why I went back into the wellness aspect.

’I was diagnosed with a number of conditions, including anxiety, depression and a form of OCD, and even though some of the treatments I was given were okay, I found journaling and mindfulness really made a difference.’

Through organising day retreats at the yoga studio, Jules found that she spoke passionately about what had helped her and that’s how her business grew.

’The pivotal point for me was the pandemic - overnight, I lost my job. I decided to study fitness, nutrition and sports massage and then the pandemic hit.

’A lady approached me who said she’d seen me host an event in January and she asked if I wanted to teach for her business.

’I said sure, nothing to lose - joined the Community Online Academy and I fell in love with it,’ she said.

’I felt so at ease with these clients, during one class talking about managing stress and anxiety through mindfulness and journaling and that turned into once a week to two weekly slots.

’It all grew from there and I qualified in mindfulness and I’m now training to become a life coach.’

Jules said she gets a lot of corporate businesses signing up for her stress and anxiety classes, which are all online.

’It’s those day-to-day coping skills that have been tested during Covid. It’s reminding people that it’s okay not to be okay and it’s reassuring people that although we’re all in the same "storm", we’re not all in the same "boat" - everyone has different levels of resilience and coping mechanisms.

’I find that through my online seminars I believe that mental health is still stigmatised and it’s not discussed as freely as weight issues, but it’s just as important as physical fitness.

’For me, I want [mental health awareness] to get to a point where we can say to others: ’I’m feeling anxious today’, and share ways to cope and strategies. We need to beat-down that stigma that it’s unsolvable.’

Jules believes that there is still an awkwardness around talking about mental health and along with her dad, who has studied psychology for more than 40 years, they want to make it more normalised.

She said: ’We want to reassure people that it’s okay to feel depressed or feeling quite anxious and there’s nothing "wrong" with them.

’Feeling a range of emotions is very normal and I think sometimes with the way that society is that it’s been very much led by marketing.

’ I studied marketing at university and there’s good sides to it, but there’s also a very manipulative side of it that’s constantly telling people that they’re not good enough. Constantly encouraging people on this search for "perfection".

’I use the phrase "perfectly imperfect" - because everybody is so different. Everybody has different thoughts, feelings, perceptions. Most people look different unless identical twins. We go through different experiences in life and so how can we all be searching for perfection when we’re all perfectly unique?’

Jules believes people all deserve to feel good about themselves and realise how incredible they are.

’I meet the most incredible people and when you really talk to them and go past the general chit-chat, I find that these people are passionate, intelligent and have these interesting quirks, but they are probably holding on to this self-belief, probably from a young age, that they don’t "look the part", or they’re not the "right" weight, or they’re just "not good enough".

’It feels amazing to be able to help people. It feels like I’ve found my "true" calling and I’ve always been very passionate about health and wellness and as a personal trainer, I felt like there was something missing [in that job aspect].

’I cared more about overall wellness and giving the people the buzz they got when they achieve their goals.

’In that, I saw there were all these barriers to success, where people had the support and they had what they needed, but it was something in their mind, something in their confidence which stopped them from achieving what they deserved.

’The feedback I get is beautiful and I still have moments where I can’t believe it or I feel a bit embarrassed, because I just want to be there to help these people and I genuinely care about them.

’I have built up a community for these people and it’s been very fulfilling.’

Jules said it’s important to beat the stigma of mental health not being important to care about, so that people can get the help they need sooner.

’Because there are people out there who are hiding their symptoms and how they feel, they deserve to feel good and healthy. They deserve to be able to say "I have anxiety" and get treated by others with compassion and support.’

l For more info about mindfulness classes, visit https://edu.perksatwork.com/schedules/

Jules’ classes are every Thursday at 12pm - Stretch and Reflect (stretch, journal and meditate) and every Thursday at 8pm - Mindfulness and Mindset (deeper subjects also using mindfulness and journaling).

Hobbs Holistic Health can be found on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.