Mental Health

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. 

 

It affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence, through adulthood (Mentalhealth.gov).

 

Mental health is everyone’s business, we can all have times when we feel a little down, sad or stressed. For most of us, these feelings will pass but sometimes they can develop into a more serious problem and this could happen to any of us at any time of our lives.

 

Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same, it can be influenced by many factors, such as life circumstances, physical health, financial burdens and relationship issues for example.

 

There are times in our life that can feel completely out of our control.  We need not look further than the current situation we all find ourselves in with the coronavirus. The complete lack of normality and stability and the real fear felt for one’s own physical, emotional, mental and financial wellbeing has served crippling to many.

 

There has never been a more poignant time to look after our mental health, and not only ours, we ned to help support others also through these turbulent times.

 

Good mental health is just as important as good physical health and often these can go hand in hand. If you’re in good mental health, you can; make the most out of your potential, cope with life and play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends. It plays an important part in the health of your relationships, and allows you to adapt to change in your life and cope with adversity.

The following guidelines have been written by the NHS and focus on steps to take to aid in our mental well-being.

5 steps to Mental Wellbeing

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

Connect with other people. Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:

  • help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth

  • give you an opportunity to share positive experiences

  • provide emotional support and allow you to support others

There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:

Do

  • if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together

  • arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while

  • try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family

  • have lunch with a colleague

  • visit a friend or family member who needs support or company

  • volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website

  • make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart

  • search and download online community apps on the NHS apps library

 

Don’t

  • do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It's easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people

 

Be physically active. Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your self-esteem

  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them

  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

Do

 

Don’t

  • do not feel that you have to spend hours in a gym. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

 

Learn new skills. Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem

  • helping you to build a sense of purpose

  • helping you to connect with others

 

Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life. Some of the things you could try include:

Do

  • try learning to cook something new. Find out about healthy eating and cooking tips

  • try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills

  • work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online

  • consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing

  • try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint

 

Don’t

  • do not feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you. It's best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

 

Give to others. Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward

  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth

  • helping you connect with other people

 

It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community. Some examples of the things you could try include:

  • saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you

  • asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer

  • spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company

  • offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project

  • volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home

 

Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness). Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Read more about mindfulness, including steps you can take to be more mindful in your everyday life.

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