Looking after your mental health

This week is Mental Health Week, and World Mental Health Day falls on Saturday 10th October. For many of us there has never been a more appropriate time to take a moment to focus on our mental wellbeing. Fears over our own physical health and that of loved ones, not being able to freely see those we care about, having plans cancelled, the economy, and not knowing what will happen over the coming months can take its toll on our mental health. We have previously written about looking after your wellbeing – both physically and mentally, but we wanted to provide a fresh perspective in light of the ongoing situation we find ourselves in.

Extended exercise

Lockdown has been tough for many people, but one thing we can do to support our wellbeing in exercise, with no limit on the time we spend outdoors. This may be a great opportunity for you to explore local areas and discover new and interesting places that you’ve not previously been to. Exercise has been linked to supporting a positive mental wellbeing for many, from increased self-esteem, better sleep or managing stress or anxiety. Outdoor sports courts, outdoor gyms, outdoor swimming pools and playgrounds have all started to open back up, as well as some indoor facilities. 

Some facilities may not be available due to local lockdown restrictions in your area. You can check government advice to see if this applies to you. 

Meeting friends for a socially distanced walk

Following on from the extended exercise, provided you are not affected by local lockdown restrictions you can meet up with up to six friends for a walk. Heading out to lap up the autumnal colours may be just what you need, larger gatherings are currently not an option, but being able to talk, laugh or cry about the recent events with a few good friends could help – after all, #itisgoodtotalk 

For those facing local lockdown rules you can still go out with someone from your household, or with your support bubble if you live alone. Heading out for a walk a chance of scenery can do wonders for your mood.

Try a new hobby!

You may have recently had your fill of TV and Netflix shows and want to now turn your hand to being a bit more creative. Perhaps a new upcycling project, or returning to an old hobby whether it’s painting, drawing, woodwork or something else. Finding time to let your creativity flow can be very rewarding and fulfilling. Maybe you want to start something new? With YouTube readily available on our phones, tablets, and TV’s, it could prove useful in picking up the basics of a new hobby.

By doing something you are good at, you will be boosting your mood and your own self-esteem. If crafting is not for you, try baking, gardening, or even sitting down with a good book or a crossword. Giving yourself something else to focus on can go a long way to increase feelings of wellbeing.

Eat Well

This may be an obvious one, but there is a lot to be said for the science behind what we eat and how we feel. Quick fixes like sugar and caffeine have an immediate effect but can drop off quickly and make you feel low.

Your body needs a good mix of nutrients to maintain both physical and mental health. A healthy balanced diet should include at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as well as nuts and seeds, wholegrain cereals and bread, dairy, oily fish and at least 3 to 4 pints of water*

*This information may not apply if your doctor has given you specific dietary advice. Please always listen to the advice from your healthcare provider.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness can come in many different forms – meditation, yoga, breathing techniques, keeping a journal, self-affirmations and more. Many people find these techniques useful in keeping a positive mind. By keeping present in the moment and not focussing on the future, it can help to dispel fears or worries.

There is a wealth of resources online to help you put these techniques into practice.

Insight Timer is a free app and home to the largest library of free guided meditations to help you along your journey.

The Practice is a great free YouTube channel by Annie Clarke with a huge selection of breathing, meditation and yoga classes and healthy recipes for you to try

Movement for Modern Life is a paid for Yoga subscription with a variety of programs to tailor all levels and preferences. They offer a 15 day free trial so you can try before you buy.

However you’re feeling about lockdown, there’s plenty of support available – be that friends, family or the likes of Mind, we’re all in this together!