Talking About Mental Health – Where Do We Begin?
We all understand how important it is to take care of ourselves and get the most from life, but now, perhaps more than ever during these unprecedented times of living in isolation and social distancing during a global pandemic we feel under more pressure than ever to either be “ok” so as to not upset or worry loved ones or warrant a visit to our GP.
Below are our top five practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take a lot of time, making today a great place to start talking about and proactively managing your mental health.
- Talking about our feelings can help us stay in good mental health and deal with times when we feel troubled. There is no hierarchy or rules around what troubles us. What upsets is personal to us and not for anyone else to deem worthy enough to warrant support or a listening ear.
Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.It’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling. If you can’t think of one word, use lots. What does it feel like inside your head? What does it make you feel like doing?
You don’t need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation about your wellbeing. Many people feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally – maybe when you’re doing something together.
- Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health. If that looks like a 5k park run to you, great. For others, that might be 20 minutes out in the fresh air walking the dog. It all helps.
- Eat and drinking in moderation sounds boring, but can give us such a boost. Our brains need a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but we know the effect is only temporary.When the drink wears off, we might feel worse because of the way the alcohol has affected our brain and the rest of our body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings (except possibly a celebratory glass of champagne to toast the end of lockdown!)
- Communication is key. There can be nothing better, or more natural to us, than catching up with someone face to face over a coffee, but that’s not possible right now. It can be tempting to keep our news short and sweet over video calls or quick hellos over the garden fence but where possible, try to keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you.Nurture relationships that make you feel loved or valued. If being around someone is damaging your mental health, it may be best to take a break from them or call it a day completely where possible. It is possible to end a relationship in a way that feels ok for both of you.
- A change of scene or a change of pace is good for our mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning the kitchen to dance to a favourite song, a half-hour lunch break whilst working from home, or a weekend exploring a new skill, like gardening or painting. You might be surprised that even a few minutes can be enough to de-stress you.
If you look after someone with an illness, disability, mental health or substance abuse issue who depends on you – you can depend on us for 1-2-1 advice, guidance, advocacy and support. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to find out more.