World Mental Health Day 2020 is upon us and is the most important one yet. The months of lockdown and loss have had a huge impact on us all, and prioritising mental health has never been more important than it is now. Mind recommends many tips to look after our mental health, of which is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
We all need to take care of our mental wellbeing whether we have a mental health problem or not. How you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month or year to year. Good mental wellbeing doesn’t mean you’re always happy or unaffected by your experiences. But poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life which is why it is important to look after your mental health and be kind to yourself in difficult times.
Some Tips For Improving Your Mental Health Recommended by Mind
There are lots of things we can try to take care of our wellbeing. But it’s not always easy to start. You might find it helpful to give yourself time to figure out what works for you, going at your own pace and taking small steps. Pick one or two things that feel achievable at first, before moving on to try other ideas.
You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, such as tiredness or headaches. When we feel stressed we often find it hard to sleep or eat well, and poor diet and lack of sleep can both affect our physical health. This in turn can make us feel more stressed emotionally.
When we feel anxious, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline. (This is the body’s automatic way of preparing to respond to a threat, sometimes called the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response). If you’re often stressed then you’re probably producing high levels of these hormones, which can make you feel physically unwell and could affect your health in the longer term.
: If there’s something that helps you relax, try to find time to fit it into your day. For example, having a bath or going for a walk.
: If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try to take a break. A change of scene can help you to relax and relieve feelings of anxiety, even just for a few minutes.
: Try mindfulness. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It’s been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them.
: Have a tech break. If you find that being on your phone or computer a lot is making you feel busier and stressed, try to take a break. This could be for just an hour or two. If you find this difficult, try putting your phone in another room or setting an alarm to time yourself.
Doing something creative can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings, or help you to process them. It can also be rewarding.
: You could try doing something like drawing, playing a musical instrument or baking. Try not to worry about the finished product. Just focus on enjoying yourself.
: Join a class or group. Learning a new skill in a group can be enjoyable, and help boost your confidence. Use apps like nextdoor.co.uk or local colleges to find hobbies close to home that you may find enjoyable.
Connect With Others
Connecting with others can help us have a greater sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness.
: Talk to someone you trust. Opening up to a trusted friend or family member can help you feel listened to and supported. Sometimes, just acknowledging your feelings by saying them out loud can also help.
: Try peer support. If you’re finding things hard, talking to people who have similar feelings or experiences can help. This could be face-to-face at a peer support group, or through an online community like Mind’s Elefriends. Volunteer. Using your time to help others can give you a sense of purpose, help you meet people and boost your self-esteem. See the Do It website for volunteering opportunities.
Look After Your Physical Health
Poor physical health can impact greatly our mental health and feeling well within ourselves helps an all round holistic approach to wellbeing.
: Think about your diet. Try to eat regular meals and have a balanced diet, as this can help your mood and energy levels. Try to cook freshly prepared food, when possible, and avoid high intakes of sugar. Try to drink water throughout the day, which as we know when busy can easily be forgotten!
: Physical activity. Try to build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. It doesn’t have to be anything big, like running a marathon. If you aren’t used to being active, start off small and try to find something you enjoy.
: Try to get enough sleep. Establish a routine. Try and establish a routine around bed time, to help set a regular sleeping pattern.
: Avoid screens. Give yourself some tech-free time before sleep, and avoid bright screens that can affect your sleep.
: Try to wind down before bed. Do a relaxing activity, like having a bath, or try a relaxation exercise before you go to sleep. It may also help to avoid having caffeine before your bedtime, as this can keep you awake.
: Try to make your sleeping environment comfortable. A comfortable sleeping environment can help improve your sleep. Small changes can help. For example, you might sleep better with a low light on, or with different bedding.
: If you’re staying in hospital, having your own items can help make things feel more comfortable and personal. For example, you could ask to use your own pillow or blanket.
For more information and help please visit; https://www.mind.org.uk/