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  • Writer's pictureSarah

World Mental Health Day

10 October is World Mental Health Day and this year's theme is make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.

Today is a chance to talk about mental health, to think about how we can look after our own mental health, as well as looking after others, to understand how important it is to talk about things that are having an affect on us and to get help if you are struggling.

The Mental Health Foundation have produced a guide which provides top tips for looking after your mental health:

Get closer to nature

Nature can have a calming effect on us and the Mental Health Foundation research found that going for a walk was UK adults, favourite way of coping with stress during the pandemic.

In Japan 'forest bathing', which entails experiencing different smells, sounds and textures in a forest or wood, has been found to improve mental health. The concept is to get connected with your natural surroundings.

Learn to understand and manage your feelings

Feelings can interfere with our lives and make it more difficult to think clearly, work, relax, sleep and to deal with other people.

We can often feel upset without knowing the reason why, but taking time to focus on those feelings without 'judging them', or telling yourself your 'stupid or weak'. Naming the feelings, as a means of acknowledging them and determing what may have led to you feeling this way. Be kind to yourself as a means of reassurance and comfort.

By understanding your feelings this will enable you to manage your feelings.

Talk to someone your trust for support

We will often bottle up our emotions or ignore painful feelings, but having the courage to tell someone how you are feeling, or what you are finding hard, can help and create a feeling of relief.

Talking may change the way you feel about a situation

Talking about a situation may change how you see and feel about it, but ensure that you use your own language, rather than trying to change this to suit the person receiving the information, as this can make you feel safer and less along. This in turn will help to protect your mental health and prevent problems arising.

Be aware of using drugs and/or alcohol to cope with difficult feelings

The use of drugs and/or alcohol can be as a means of blocking difficult feelings, but this does not stop those feelings from returning and is only a temporary relief. In addition, drugs and/or alcohol can make things worse or create other problems, such as damaging mental and physical health, relationships and work.

Simply noticing this behaviour will help, and don't beat yourself up about it. Being kind and understanding is good for your mental health.

Try to make the most of your money and get help with problem debts

Money problems can be unavoidable, especially as we are dealing with the cost of living crisis and the fears associated with this can be very stressful. You may feel a sense of burden, isolation and shame.

Money problems have been shown to be one of the most common and serious sources of stress for many people, but if you can share your fear with another person who is not involved and that you trust, then this can make you feel less alone and overwhelmed. In addition, it may help you to see a way forward.

There are organisations that will provide free advice about financial problems and the charity Money and Mental Health has made a list of these organisations.

Get more from your sleep

Difficulties with sleep will affect your body, mind and ability to cope with life. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours' sleep a night, so if your are struggling, try these simple changes:

  • develop a relaxing bedtime routine, to help you to wind down, before going to sleep

  • avoid TV and mobile devices, alcohol and caffeine before bed

  • go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including weekends

Be kind and help create a better world

Exchanging a smile or friendly word can be comforting and lift your mood. The Mental Health Foundation's research has shown that being kind can boost your mood, make you feel more capable, strengthen connections with other and even enable you to cope better with stress, whilst making the recipient feel better.

Friendly connections with others is vital to our mental health.

Keep moving

Looking after yourself physically can help to prevent problems with your mental health. Exercise releases 'feel good' hormones, which in turn reduces feelings of stress and anger.

You don't have to join a gym in order to move your body, you could: walk the dog, do some cleaning or gardening. Anything that you find enjoyable, that allows your body to move, is the best exercise for you.

Eat healthy

Food and drink affects our bodies, brain and mood, such as sugary snacks, which can give us a temporary "high" or sense of comfort, but this can soon turn to a feeling of being exhausted or jittery.

A balanced diet is essential, but how we eat is important too. Having a meal with other people, will nourish relationships and these relationships will help to protect your mental health and prevent problems.

Over eating or under eating when we feel upset will affect this balance, so seek help from someone you trust or access professional support if needed.

Be curious and open-minded to new experiences

We can feel secure by spending our time in set ways and having established thoughts about ourselves and the world. Our expectations can then influence what actually happens whether that be good or bad, but life can feel more interesting, lively and rewarding, if we open ourselves up to new experiences and experimenting with how you do things.

Plan things to look forward to

It may be difficult to consider planning for the future, but having something to look forward to can help you cope with difficult situations. These plans will increase your sense of hope, which is important for mental health.

These plans do not have to be significant, but are something that you will enjoy, so possibly curling up on the sofa with your favourite movie, but it is important to make the plan, follow the plan and repeat.

Mental health is so important, so we must continue to talk about it and seek support when needed. There is a range of support available on the Mental Health Foundation website, but also ensure you talk to your GP, family, friends and colleagues.

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Great tips, thank you!

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