Mental Health. We hear it a lot nowadays, but what does it mean? It might help to imagine mental wellbeing as a spectrum, with feeling good, positive, confident on one side, and feeling low, or struggling on the other.
What is Mental Health?
Mental health is an umbrella term for everything that goes on in our head. It’s not a fixed state, everyone has good and bad days.
It’s often said 1 in 4 people are struggling with their mental health at one time, but we all struggle with our mental health in some way during our lifetime.
Mental health is affected by all of the things in our life – our relationships, job, money worries and even how much we sleep.
There are loads of things that can help you feel better, from changing what you eat and how much you exercise, to seeking talking therapy or taking medication.
How it might feel to struggle with Mental Health
(Some you may not have even recognised as signs)
- Feeling low often or for long periods of time
- Delusions or distortions in how we perceive the world around us
- Feeling intensely worried or nervous often or for long periods of time
- Not seeing a way forward because of your situation – for example money or relationship worries
- Compulsions to repeat certain actions or rituals
- Feeling angry for no apparent reason, or when small things don’t go the way you hoped
- Smoking, drinking or taking drugs more than usual
- Experiencing unusual aches and pains
- Having problems focusing, or becoming forgetful
- Avoiding certain situations and people in everyday life
Ways to look after your own Mental Health
Therapy - Something we cannot recommend enough. Therapy is becoming more common place and socially accepted, but sometimes it still has a stigma that you only go if you have trauma or ‘huge issues’ but thats not true. Think of therapy as a routine and preventative form of self care. If you are having trouble in your life, no matter how small the reason may seem, its a great out let and can really help share that mental load.
Self Care - In whatever form self care means to you, it could be having a relaxing bath or putting on a face mask. It could also be your favourite hobby like photography or playing guitar. It could be going to coffee with your friends or a delish brunch.. there is no right answer. If it makes you feel good (sober) then its a form of self care and you should do it whenever you can.
Physical Health- From walking to yoga, rugby to taekwondo – fitting exercise into your routine can help you to feel more positive. It releases endorphins that make you feel better and also is a great way to switch off and focus on what you're doing, leaving your worries outside.
Get some sleep- Regular sleep helps us to repair and recharge our bodies and minds. Getting a good amount of sleep (around 8 hours is the recommendation) can help you keep your mental wellbeing in check. I know, 8 hours isn’t always feasible with going out, events, binge watching the latest series or if you have kids at home but get as much as you can, when you can.
Breathing & Meditation - Yeah… it might sound silly, but simple breathing techniques can help you clear your mind, reconnect you to your body and calm you down. They can ground you and make you aware of your surroundings, a very powerful tool if you are experiencing a panic/anxiety attack.
Nutrition - Just like how what you eat can affect your physical performance, what we eat fuels our brains too. Trying to get a range of nutrients and vitamins can help you feel better. Food is also linked to our memories and our emotions, so you might find certain foods help you feel good. Food can also come with a range of negative emotions, and that’s okay, but recognising that and reaching out if you need support is the most important bit!
There is support out there!
Whether its therapy, friends, family, a partner, a MHFA or support helplines… there is always someone to talk to! Bottling up feels, although it feels like the easier route initially, will have detrimental effects on your Mental Health.
Mental Health First Aider in a business
A Mental Health First Aider(MHFA) has undergone training to learn and understand how best to support people in their company from everyday worries to diagnosed mental health disorders. If you are struggling, need support, or just want someone to listen to what’s going on, then that is what they are trained to do.
Mental health issues can have a significant impact on the well-being of employees. Having Mental Health First Aiders in the workplace is a proactive step that businesses can take to promote the mental well-being of their employees and create a positive and productive work environment. By providing employees with access to mental health support, guidance, and resources, businesses can create a culture of openness and support that can benefit both the employees and the business.
Samaritans - Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) - Taking a stand against suicide. They have a helpline and a webchat for anyone needing support or advice for yourself or someone you know.
SHOUT! - 24/7 confidential text service offering support if you’re in crisis and need immediate help as well as guidance and support