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Singer-songwriter and Retune founder Tom Ryder explains the SCALES system for improving your mental health and wellbeing



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In the first of a new series, singer-songwriter and founder of Retune Tom Ryder outlines SCALES, his six-stringed approach to improved wellbeing...

Happy new year. Some people regard mid-January as a little too late for such a greeting, but I think 2022 is a fresh start that we can all celebrate. So happy new year.

By any standards, the last two years have been torrid, whether you are a small business owner like me, a young family, an older person living alone or any number of other possibilities. Financial pressure, loss and a bombardment of doom and gloom news bulletins have tested even the most resilient of characters.

Tom Ryder in a Retune workshop with pupils at Windhill21 Primary School in Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince. (54166659)
Tom Ryder in a Retune workshop with pupils at Windhill21 Primary School in Bishop's Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince. (54166659)

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, and this is my reason for writing.

I want to introduce you to this new column that will be running in the Indie, dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. It's called Retune.

I have written for this newspaper in various capacities since its launch in October 2017. I've covered music and the arts, and in more recent times this has morphed into writing about the link between creativity and wellbeing.

In March 2018 I founded Retune, a Bishop's Stortford-based organisation that inspires young people to improve their mental health through creative outlets such as music.

We put on live shows, run workshops and curate online resources. We have been holding our 'pay what you want / donate what you can' gigs at The Horn at the Half Moon in North Street, but this year we are transitioning to South Mill Arts – more on that soon.

Workshops have been delivered all over Hertfordshire and beyond, and we are privileged to be working at Windhill21 Primary School, where we have developed a curriculum based around mental health education for Key Stage Two pupils.

Just as a guitar drops out of tune when it is exposed to extremes of temperature and pressure, we can all be thrown out of tune by what life puts before us. But just like tweaking the tuning heads of a guitar to bring it back to harmony, we can all make small adjustments to our emotional health.

Retune uses the SCALES system of Sleep, Creative, Active, Listen, Earth and Social (54166510)
Retune uses the SCALES system of Sleep, Creative, Active, Listen, Earth and Social (54166510)

There are a number of ways we can 'retune' ourselves, and finding a creative outlet – that is to say, something we can lose ourselves in – is a great way to start.

Retune teaches a system called SCALES – which stands for Sleep, Creative, Active, Listen, Earth and Social – and this is likened to the six strings of a guitar.

Sleep, Active and Social are clear enough: we need to ensure that we are well rested, exercising and around loved ones. Being Creative is about pursuing your passions.

Listen means listening to your body by eating and drinking well, as well as listening to outside sources and being inspired by the work of others.

Earth has two meanings, too: immersing ourselves in nature and literally 'earthing' ourselves by staying grounded, slowing down and calming our thoughts.

In the coming weeks, as well as telling you all about our fabulous concerts, we will be exploring SCALES in more detail, by talking to some well-known Bishop's Stortford faces about what keeps them mentally healthy.

Singer Scarlet Thomas, the 19-year-old former Herts and Essex High School girl who nearly won £500,000 on TV talent show Walk the Line in December, appeared at Retune's gig at The Horn at the Half Moon last September (54166633)
Singer Scarlet Thomas, the 19-year-old former Herts and Essex High School girl who nearly won £500,000 on TV talent show Walk the Line in December, appeared at Retune's gig at The Horn at the Half Moon last September (54166633)

If you'd like to be featured and be put 'on the SCALES', please email me at tom@retunewellbeing.com, or follow what we are up to on socials @RetuneWellbeing.

We have had some amazing feedback from young people and we're working closely with the NHS. I'm determined to deliver our message to as many people as possible and, as it often is, Bishop's Stortford could be a trailblazer.

It's more than a decade since I was hospitalised half-a-dozen times for poor mental health and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Everyone must undertake their individual journey, and it takes time to heal and be ready to share your experiences, to show others that they are not alone in their struggles.

Soul To Soul Acoustic - former Bishop's Stortford High School student Richard Burrell on guitar and Chloe Blackwell on vocals, were the last headliners at Retune's former home at The Horn at the Half Moon. Picture: mauricesparrow.com (54166642)
Soul To Soul Acoustic - former Bishop's Stortford High School student Richard Burrell on guitar and Chloe Blackwell on vocals, were the last headliners at Retune's former home at The Horn at the Half Moon. Picture: mauricesparrow.com (54166642)

The time is right for Retune, and I'm really hoping 2022 could be our year. I can't wait to explore our concepts with you, equipping more people with self-care strategies that they can use to feel happier and healthier.

There has never been a better time for us to recover and feel in tune once more.



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