Mental Health Awareness Week: Helpful top tips
Published: 15th May 2015
To round off mental health week we have developed these top tips from the NHS website to help people generally feel better about themselves and better able to deal with whatever life can throw at you.
Manage your stress levels
This can be a gradual process so give yourself time and be kind to yourself.
1. Look at your lifestyle. If you have a lot of stress in your life, find ways to reduce it.
This could be
Asking your partner to help with jobs in the house,
Taking a relaxing yoga class, or
Talking to your boss about changing your working hours.
2. Introduce regular exercise and time to yourself. These are positive changes. Taking control of your time in this way can effectively reduce stress.
3. If you have feelings of anxiety along with your stress, breathing exercises can help. See Relaxation tips for stress for advice.
Use humour and enjoy yourself
1. A good sense of humour is a great inner strength. Try to see the funny side of situations and you'll often be able cope better. Jokes have a way of making worries seem less important.
2. Doing things that you enjoy is also good for your overall emotional wellbeing. Watching sports with a friend, having a soak in the bath, or meeting up with friends for coffee are examples of small activities that can improve your day.
3. Doing something you're good at, such as cooking or dancing, is a good way to enjoy yourself and have a sense of achievement. “If you're feeling low, tell yourself how good you are at the activity. It really gives you a lift,” says clinical psychologist Isabel Clarke.
4. Try to avoid things that seem enjoyable at the time but make you feel worse afterwards, such as alcohol, or clothes shopping if you're on a tight budget.
Build up your self-esteem
Self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself. Lots of things can lower our self-esteem, such as a relationship break-up, not getting the job you wanted, or putting on weight. None of these things makes us worth less, but it can feel that way.
If your self-esteem is low, it's important to learn how to improve it. A good way to do this is to speak to yourself as you would your best friend.
So instead of thinking: “You're so stupid for not getting that job”, and instead think, “Would I say that to my best friend?”. You probably wouldn't.
Tell yourself something positive instead, such as: “You're a bright person, you'll get the next job”.
Have a healthy lifestyle:
1.Limit your alcohol intake
When times are hard, it's tempting to drink alcohol because it “numbs” painful feelings. However, it can exaggerate some feelings and make you feel angry or aggressive. It can also make you feel more depressed.
You don't have to give up alcohol completely to be emotionally healthy, but avoid drinking more than the recommended limit. If you're a man, don't regularly drink more than three to four units a day. If you're a woman, don't regularly drink more than two to three units a day.
2.Choose a well-balanced diet
Making healthy choices about your diet can make you feel emotionally stronger. You're doing something positive for yourself, which lifts your self-esteem, and a good diet enables your brain and body to work efficiently.
Aim to have a balanced diet that includes the main food groups (see Healthy eating for more information).
3.Do some exercise
Even moderate exercise releases chemicals in your brain that lift your mood. It can help you sleep better, have more energy and keep your heart healthy. If you're trying to reach a healthy weight, exercise will help you lose the pounds. Choose an exercise that you enjoy!
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and enabling you to deal with your problems more calmly.
4.Get enough sleep
Around seven to eight hours is the average amount of sleep an adult needs for their body and mind to fully rest, but this can vary. Some people need less and some need more before they feel ready for the day.
Whatever the case, make sure that you make sleep a priority. Some people, such as new parents and shift workers, can find this very hard. Ask your partner or a family member to help you so you can catch up on your sleep. Get 10 tips on overcoming insomnia.
Talk and share
A problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your work troubles and help you see things in a different way. Communication is important, whether it's with a friend, family member or counsellor, helping you release tension. It is important to remember to be careful who you talk to though especially if you are talking about your innner most feelings; make sure it is someone who has your best interests at heart.
There’s a solution to any problem. If you constantly tell yourself that you can’t do anything about a problem the stress will get worse. The feeling of loss of control is one of the main causes of lack of wellbeing and stress. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else. Read tips about how to manage your time.
Have some ‘me time’
The UK workforce works the longest hours in Europe. Extra hours at work mean less time doing the things we enjoy out of work. We all need ‘me’ time so it is recommended that we dedicate a couple of nights a week for this and stick to them.
Setting yourself goals and challenges, whether at work or outside, such as learning a new language or a new sport, helps to build confidence. That in turn will help you deal with stress. By continually learning you become more emotionally resilient.
Help other people
There is evidence that shows people who help others, through activities such as volunteering or community work, become more resilient. This is because by helping those who are often in situations worse than yours will help you put your problems into perspective.
If you don't have time to volunteer, try to do someone a favour every day. It doesn’t have to be very big; small favors will work just as well. Favours cost nothing to do, and you’ll feel better.
Work smarter, not harder
Good time management means quality work rather than quantity. Our long-hours culture is a well-known cause of workplace illness. Working smarter means prioritising your work, concentrating on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work. Leave the least important tasks to last.
Look for the positives in life, and things for which you're grateful. Write down three things at the end of every day which went well or for which you're grateful. This requires a shift in perspective for those who are more naturally pessimistic. By making a conscious effort you can train yourself to be more positive about life. Problems are often a question of perspective. If you change your perspective, you may see your situation from a more positive point of view.
Accept the things you can't change
Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on everything that you do have control over.
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