October 10 2020 – Marianne Morrison
World Mental Health Day takes place on Saturday, 10th October. This worldwide event was created to not only raise awareness, but also to get rid of the stigma around mental health, and get everyone talking about their feelings.
It seems back to front that our focus on health tends to be more physical than mental, given our mind controls every aspect of our physical body—really makes you think, huh?
In a world of social media and reality TV, it can be easy to think that everyone is living a perfect life or a life perceived to be better than yours. We all live different lives and have different opportunities and challenges based on a number of factors.
Our number one top tip for a happy and healthy wellbeing is to never compare yourself or your circumstances to someone else’s!
Statistically, each week, one in six adults will experience some degree of mental health problem. We are human and are meant to feel the emotions and feelings attached to day to day events, but it can be easy for these experiences to overwhelm us at certain points.
It would be impossible to cover in one article the complex area of mental health, but we have grouped together some common challenges that many of us face, with some support links to connect to should you need to reach out.
Stress can be caused by a variety of factors, from difficulties in work to relationships and family struggles. Some of the common signs include difficulty concentrating, headaches, feeling overwhelmed, emotional and general irritability.
If you are dealing with stress, here are some of our stress-busting suggestions:
Any form of exercise can be a great stress buster, many studies have linked exercise to increased mood, sleep and general wellbeing.
Self-care can be anything from spending some time alone, going for a walk, or getting Netflix on and turning your phone off. Basically, it’s doing whatever makes you feel better. Whenever you get a free moment, try and do something that helps to calm your mind.
Trauma can happen at any time in our lives, and can sometimes lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Signs of PTSD include flashbacks, panic attacks, and nightmares. ASSIST is a UK charity that provides support for those with PTSD.
Meditation has been found to be effective for some as a way to combat the panic attacks caused by trauma and PTSD.
Meditation & Mindfulness
Mindfulness and meditation can be practised anywhere. It can take a bit of practice and getting used to when you first start, calming the chatter inside your mind or refocusing on something else is tough at first. If you start to feel a panic attack coming on, try to focus on just your breathing to begin with. Take a slow, deep breath in and release, repeat as many times as comfortable.
There are also some great mindfulness apps that can take you through a guided breathing session, such as Calm or Headspace.
Everyone deals with grief differently, so the signs and ways of coping can be different for each of us. If you are feeling sad and overwhelmed after the loss of someone close to you, Mind has set up a resource of useful contacts that you can turn to for support and understanding. We have received these suggestions as ways some people have coped with losing a loved one.
The overwhelming feeling of grief can be disabling, if you feel able, reach out to someone you trust to talk about how your feeling or talk about something to distract you. Grief can take many forms and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it, but you don’t have to suffer alone. Charities like Cruse Bereavement Care offer helplines and support if you feel like you are facing things alone.
Make a photo album or scrapbook
If you feel able, keep your treasured memories close to you by making a special photo album or scrapbook.
Keep at your hobbies and interests
It can be difficult, but keeping up your routine as much as possible and the areas you are passionate about.
Panic attacks can often come on quickly without warning. Common signs of a panic attack include feeling faint or dizzy, a racing heartbeat, tight chest and flushing. One way that you can tackle an oncoming panic attack is through the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
If you are beginning to feel panicky, try and focus on these things in the room you’re in:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Simply put, it distracts your brain and makes it focus on your surroundings—helping prevent a potential panic attack.
Sadness can be caused by depression, or from a recent event in your life. You might feel withdrawn, or that you have no energy and at times you might not understand why. Charities like The Mix are here to help you through difficult times, with a helpline, group chat, and online discussion boards where you can chat to others who are in the same boat as you.
Here are our some tips for keeping focus on positive events:
Keep a diary of positive thoughts and achievements
Write down the things in life you are grateful for, have coped with already as well as any achievements you’ve made, no matter how small. We all too often forget to recognise the small steps forward. Every journey starts with one small step.
When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to see the positives, if this is how you feel, start with one positive thought each day, even if you have to struggle to find it, after a couple of days work up to two and by repeating this approach, it will become easier.
Writing positive thoughts down helps you focus and also helps you look back in a few days, weeks or months to see your progress.
When you feel able, write down one positive and one goal you want to achieve, it could be as simple as calling a friend each week, remember small steps.
Eat well and exercise regularly
It’s essential to have a healthy and nourishing diet. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are packed full of vitamins that are important for your brain function.
How can I show someone that I care?
Finally, if you are worried about anyone you care about, there are many ways you can show that you are there for them.
Make sure to check in on them, this could be a coffee meeting, phone call or even just a text message. It can be hard for some people to open up about their feelings, so just letting them know that you are there for them is a good place to start.
Always remember caring is free, it costs nothing to be kind!