Did you know that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health illness at some point during their lifetime? With depression being the largest mental health illness worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it’s important to look after your wellbeing.
The additional mental health pressures faced in the pandemic & beyond
A study led by the Mental Health Foundation suggests that mental wellbeing is being largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the negative effects of physical distancing, social isolation, lockdown and financial worries adding additional pressures. What’s more, the mental health implications are predicted to outlive the physical effects of the Coronavirus, causing concern about the lasting mental health effects of the pandemic.
Tips on taking care of your mental health
Looking after your mental wellbeing is equally as important as taking care of your physical health. There are a number of measures you can take to help ensure you stay mentally well. These include:
Sometimes, opening up about your mental health can be difficult, but it’s not always about sitting your loved ones down for a formal conversation. For many people, these conversations develop naturally, so it’s all about finding the right moment for you. Being listened to will help you feel supported and less alone, easing some of your anxieties. Plus, it works both ways! You may be surprised that when you open up, others will too.
Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel happy. What’s more, regular exercise can improve your self-esteem, help you concentrate and help you sleep better, which in turn has its own health benefits. Exercise doesn’t always mean sweating away at the gym, but it can be in the form of walks, yoga, dancing or even gardening, it’s about finding what exercise you enjoy.
Eating a balanced diet
Studies show that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat can affect the way we feel. Just like any other organ in your body, your brain needs a balanced diet to function effectively. Improving your diet will help boost your mood, give you more energy and help you think more clearly. Drinking plenty of water, limiting your caffeine intake and avoiding excess alcohol also plays a significant role in your mental health.
Take some time out
Sometimes the world can wait. Taking time out to switch off and practice self-care can be hugely beneficial for your mental health. Turn off distractions such as social media and read a book, go for a walk, or if you are tired, just enjoy the art of doing nothing.
Life can sometimes get hectic and you lose sight of what’s really important. Mindfulness is when we become more aware of the present moment to help us appreciate and enjoy the world around us, whilst allowing us to understand ourselves better. It encourages us to become more aware of our thoughts and identify the thoughts that are not helpful. We can train our brains to identify the thoughts that can take over, to realise they are just mental events and they do not control us. Mindfulness can help us identify early signs of stress and anxiety, so we can deal with them better.
Valley Steps are running online mindfulness sessions for those living in Merthyr Tydfil, RCT and Bridgend, to find out more and to register, visit their website.
Or to learn more about mindfulness, visit the mindfulness page on the NHS website.
Knowing when to get help
It’s not unusual to have days where you feel down or anxious, but they often fade or get better with time. Knowing when it’s time to get help can be difficult and asking for help is the first and sometimes the biggest step towards getting better, you should seek help if:
- You have thoughts about self-harm or harming others.
- Your condition is affecting your everyday life, so for example, if you can’t function well at work or if you are avoiding social events.
- Your mood is continuously low.
- Any type of major changes in your sleeping pattern. Whether you aren’t sleeping, or you are sleeping more.
- Other people are noticing changes in your behaviour and are becoming concerned or commenting on your behaviour.
- Or simply, you’ve reached a point where you know that you need help and you can’t go on any longer.
Where to get help
If you need to seek help for yourself or a loved one, please contact us. We are currently operating through e-consultations or by telephone appointments and will decide whether you need to be seen in person during the appointment.
If it’s a mental health emergency, the NHS urgent mental health helplines provide 24-hour advice and support. The local phone numbers for the NHS crisis team are 01685 726952 and 01443 444388.
There are also some excellent charities we work closely with including the local charity Valleys Steps who provide support to the Merthyr Tydfil, RCT and Bridgend areas. Take a look at some of their upcoming online workshops, that offer digital mindfulness and stress management sessions.
There is also MIND, who offer information and support online and over the phone. You can speak to someone over the phone by calling 0300 123 3393.
Overcoming the mental health stigma
We’ve mentioned that talking can help reduce anxiety, but for some, they worry that by opening up about their mental health, others will assume they are dangerous or incompetent, which of course is not true. The more we openly talk about mental health, the more we normalise it, because it is normal. After all, 1 in 4 people in the UK will suffer from some sort of mental health condition during their lifetime.
Cwm Taf Morgannwg Mind
Looking after your mental health during COVID-19