This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and with 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health issue of some kind every year, looking after our mental health should be in the forefront of all our minds. In a previous blog for Children’s Mental Health Week, we looked at the impact of Covid 19 on children’s wellbeing. In this blog, we are going to look at yours. Record numbers of adults (and children) sought help from the NHS for their mental health in 2020, with experts predicting the crisis will get worse before it gets better. So what can we do to stay positive and feel a little bit better when we are struggling? Here are our 5 top tips:
There’s a reason nature is the theme to this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Connecting with nature (this can be going to a park, tending to your window boxes or even watching a nature documentary) has a positive impact on your mood. Research shows that people who are more connected with nature are usually happier in life and more likely to report feeling their lives are worthwhile. Nature connectedness is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, in particular lower depression and anxiety levels. So take the time to get outside at least once a day. It could be walking to the shop instead of driving, it could be sitting in the garden with your morning brew or it could even be snuggling in to watch the latest David Attenborough documentary.
Everyone knows exercise is good for us, but do we ever really look beyond the physical benefits? As well as the obvious aesthetic perks, there are numerous mental and emotional perks too. Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety and even helps to prevent the development of mental health problems. Exercise doesn’t have to mean 100 burpees or a two hour session at the gym, even a short 10 minute burst of brisk walking increases mental alertness, energy and positive mood. You could even tie your exercise for the day with connecting to nature and really feel the benefits!
What we eat has a huge impact on how we feel. Making healthier choices can improve your mood, give you more energy and give you greater brain clarity. Healthy choices doesn’t just mean what you eat either, it can also mean making sure you allow time for breakfast, eating mindfully or sticking to a meal time routine. We’re not recommending you never eat a cake again, but maybe track how you feel when you have had a day or two of eating junk food, compared to after a day or two of eating healthier – you are likely to notice a difference and may even create a new habit!
As Brits, we often feel like we need to keep a stiff upper lip and plough through the hard times without burdening anyone else with our problems. But with poor mental health, talking and opening up about our struggles is really important for getting us through the hard times. If you are struggling, find someone you trust to speak to and also ask people you care about how they are feeling – how they are really feeling. You don’t need to provide solutions or give them advice, just listen to them and support them as they speak. When someone is struggling with their mental health, just saying things out loud can help enormously.
Be Kind To Yourself
Treat yourself how you would treat others. We are so quick to self-deprecate and self-criticise that we often forget to be nice to ourselves. When was the last time you praised yourself or gave yourself a metaphorical pat on the back? A lot of us just carry on running in the hamster wheel without looking back at our successes or giving ourselves the time to appreciate where we are now. So make time for yourself, to relax and think about how wonderful you are! Next time you have some downtime, maybe driving somewhere or sitting in the bath, list 3 things you like about yourself.
Finally, remember it is OK not to be OK. Education professionals often feel the need to be on top of their game all day, every day, but we are human. Sometimes we will feel down, sometimes we will need to reach out for help, and that’s OK. We wish you all well, this Mental Health Awareness Week and every week.
Mental Health Awareness Week: Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
PSHE Association: https://www.pshe-association.org.uk/