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Key Worker singer Tom Ryder looks at the SCALES system that can help you with your physical and mental wellbeing

In his latest Retune column, Tom Ryder looks at the clever system you can live your life by to keep things nicely balanced...

Over the last few weeks I have introduced various techniques and tips that promote wellbeing during lockdown. These have included an app to help you stay in touch and connected (Houseparty), a range of recommended listening on Spotify and a fitness tracker that is both motivational and social (Strava).

This week, and for the six weeks beyond, I'm going to delve a little deeper and take you through a system that we use at Retune to identify, measure and 'tune up' mental wellbeing. The system is called SCALES, and it comprises six 'strings': Sleep, Creative, Active, Listen, Earth and Social.

SCALES (34044755)
SCALES (34044755)

I'll be going into more detail about each of these areas in the coming weeks, but first I wanted to outline the model to you and explain the theory behind it.

The different elements that make up mental wellbeing exist, like musical notes, on a scale. We do not simply have good mental health or poor mental health; instead there is a spectrum, with many shades of grey. Over the course of a day or week, our wellbeing can fluctuate dramatically, so we need to check-in with ourselves regularly in order to keep an eye on it.

I believe that if I can get enough restful sleep, engage in a creative task that uses the imagination, be active, listen to something nourishing, appreciate the world around me while staying grounded and reach out to connect with a loved one each day, then I'll be well on the way to wellbeing and balance. Mental harmony, if you will.

"The SCALES model is something you can live your life by," says photographer and filmmaker Kathryn Bailey. "It can help you manage your time to ensure you're looking after the various 'strings' that make up your own wellbeing and mental health in a positive way. Once you have noticed which one is 'out of tune', you can begin to make small changes to correct and 'retune' it.

"Perhaps you've only just realised that you've not exercised in a month or that you haven't been sleeping well. You have to consciously recognise the problem in order to find the solution, and the SCALES model can help you do that."

Creativity is the foundation that Retune was built on. "I think it's so important that people are aware that, just because they can't draw a picture or play an instrument, it doesn't mean they aren't creative," Kathryn continues.

"It's worth noting that being creative doesn't necessarily mean being artistic. Creativity is all about using your imagination to come up with ideas and solve problems. We are all born creative and remain so throughout life, but each of us uses our creativity in different ways, and it manifests differently depending on your age and environment."

Kathryn Bailey (34044759)
Kathryn Bailey (34044759)

Film and dance are the keys to keeping Kathryn balanced. She does 'drop out of tune' sometimes however: "I can feel burned out or overworked, often due to being at my desk in front of a screen for too long. I'm self-employed, so I bring it on myself!

"Structuring my day or week based on the SCALES model really helps, as I can schedule my client work around the things that I've decided take priority in my life such as exercise, time outside and self-care."

Greg Camburn has been working with Retune since its inception. He says: "If every string – that is to say every important part of your life – is in tune, then your mental wellbeing is likely to be good.

Greg Camburn (34044751)
Greg Camburn (34044751)

"When a guitar is out of tune, you can balance it out by making some minor adjustments. So if you've identified that something in your life isn't quite right, you can do something about it.

"I think sleep is the most important part of maintaining balance with my own mental wellbeing. I have not found the perfect answer, but identifying key parts that I need to keep in tune has really helped me. We all have individual and important elements to our lives, and they need to be balanced – it's been a real eye-opener."

Kathryn concludes: "Even for those who generally don't worry about their mental health, it can be really helpful to notice what brings you joy and what makes you feel better both physically and mentally, and ensure it is factored in to your calendar."

Kathryn Bailey (34044753)
Kathryn Bailey (34044753)

Look out for my column over the next six weeks as I'll be tackling each part of SCALES in turn. If you would like to learn more about the model, the Retune team would love to hear from you. Stay safe.

Retune puts on live gigs, visits schools and universities and creates online content, including an upcoming podcast and app. For more information visit retunewellbeing.com or follow @RetuneWellbeing on socials.

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