Around one in every four people worldwide will be affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives. There are particular times in your life where you might be under a lot more stress than normal e.g. during results season, starting university, exams etc.
Mental health problems are not discriminative. They can affect anyone from any walk of life.
In fact, WHO estimates that around 450 million people across the world currently suffer from such conditions making mental health one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
There are many factors that result in people developing a mental health problem – it really could be anything. Some young people find that isolation, change in circumstances, the pressure to succeed, debt or stressful work environments with demanding colleagues triggers them to develop problems.
With this in mind, we wanted to share some basic tips from our community of healthcare professionals with you, but please don’t keep it to yourself! Go ahead and share it with anyone and everyone, after all, you never know what someone else is going through.
1. Talk about your feelings
Talking about your feelings can help you to deal with times when you feel troubled or are going through difficulty. It might help you better understand and recognise the things that cause you to feel worse and identify the things that make you feel better.
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone – the truth is that you’re usually not alone in feeling like this and speaking to someone else could help you and them. Many people talk to friends or family but remember there are professionals available to help too (you can do this anonymously too) – pastoral support, charities or even through your GP.
👉Are you currently dealing with results day stress? Read our ‘Looking After Yourself During Results Season’ blog👈
2. Keep active
Research has proven that regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups but nothing is 100% preventative. It doesn’t have to be intense – even moderate physical activity like going for a brisk walk over lunch will release ‘feel-good’ hormones that can help you overcome a low mood and distract you from unwanted thoughts or worries.
3. Eat well and drink responsibly
Like other organs in your body, your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well. A well-balanced diet can help with your overall physical health, energy levels and your mental wellbeing. Instead of reaching for a packet of crisps as a snack maybe try pulses, nuts or fruit. Just to be clear, the every-vegetable-imaginable pizza that your flatmate is ordering whilst on a healthy-kick doesn’t count.
While many people enjoy socialising over a few drinks, it’s not an effective way to manage difficult feelings. Alcohol may change your outlook temporarily, but once it’s worn off it can worsen your mental health because of the way it affects your brain and the rest of your body so drink responsibly.
👉Trying to cut down on your sugar consumption? Check out our ‘5 Quick & Yummy Dessert Recipes That Are Low in Sugar‘ blog👈
4. Have regular “me-time”
Schedule in some regular “me-time”. It doesn’t have to be onerous – it could be a ten-minute walk in your local park or a half-hour lunch break at work or even a weekend exploring somewhere new. Pick up a book, reach for a paintbrush or listen to your favourite songs. Those precious few minutes can be enough to make a difference to your overall outlook.
Having a regular routine that incorporates some relaxing “me-time” before bed could also help your body the chance to recover from the day and establish a regular sleep pattern. Try taking time away from your screen and your phone and relaxing with a book before bed.
The difference between recreation and entertainment
Lots of people make the mistake of thinking these two activities are the same, I certainly did at first. They can indeed overlap, but they do involve different elements.
Entertainment – This is anything that we find amusing and enjoyable. Examples of entertainment include films, music, video games, books and social media. We tend to passively enjoy these, there is no proactive element as we are absorbing material.
Recreation – On the other hand, recreation is something we do for pleasure and involves an active element, either physically or mentally. This could include light exercise or doing some of your own creative writing. Overall, recreation is more productive than entertainment.
With both entertainment and recreation, we are enjoying ourselves. It’s perfectly fine to binge watch you favourite show occasionally, but according to the Guardian, binge-watchers are more likely to report higher stress, anxiety and depression. Balance is really important and too much of anything can be bad for us, so make sure your free time is shared between entertainment and recreation.
5. Do things that make you happy
Enjoying yourself can help you beat stress and improve your mental health. Sometimes our daily lives can feel monotonous like you’re a robot just trying to please other people and going through the motions. Take time out to do something just for you. So what are you good at? Is there something you’ve done in the past that you’ve loved and lost yourself in? Make time to do that again!
Keep a diary
Keeping a diary is a brilliant way of expressing our emotions healthily and research has supported its positive impact on mental health. Writing down what we feel can help us pinpoint what the source of our feelings are and can allow us to problem solve if we need to. Looking back over what we have felt in the past can also remind us of how we overcame these problems and can act as a real confidence boost. You don’t have to write a lot as there is no word count, just write what comes to mind!
At the end of each day, reflect on five things you feel grateful for, you can say these in your head or write them down. These will help you to focus on the positive aspects of life. We tend to remember the negative things in life more, so remembering positives can help us to gain a healthier and more balanced view of life.
👋Are you preparing for results day? Read our ‘7 Inspirational Quotes to get you through Results Day‘👋
So that’s it! We hope that you’ve enjoyed this blog and that these 5 easy tips to take care of your mental health are helpful for you and anyone you share them with. If you’re going through a tough time please reach out to your friends, family and professionals who are ready to help.
PS. This World Mental Health Day we’re sharing the message that it’s okay to talk about your feelings on any day of the year. Why not take a few moments to ask someone how they’re really feeling, you might not realise how much it means.