Mental health is such an important topic at the moment and something which everyone should be aware of.
Whether it’s keeping an eye on your friends and family, or making sure that you, yourself, are okay – looking after the mental health of yourself and others is so important.
Positive mental health enables a person to think, feel and react in the way they want to live their life. Mirroring this, if you go through a spell of struggling to cope, you may find that you are unable to think, feel and react as you normally might, which could cause you problems.
According to Mind, mental health problems affect around one in four people in any year. These problems include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
There are so many charities in the world which cater to helping people and their mental health, so if you ever feel down and just not yourself, read up on how best to help yourself. The first and most important thing is to read about mental health and be aware of all the signs – because you never know who could be silently suffering.
Listed below are some tips by our correspondent Frankie Guinane to help improve your mental health, if you have seen it deteriorate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Selfcare Sunday is my all-time favourite thing to do after a stressful and busy week at university. It is a way the get rid of all the stress and worries from the week and make sure you start the next week off calm and in control.
Firstly, you need to finish any work at a reasonable time for this to take place. Once you have finished the work, close the laptop, computer, note book – whatever you have been working on and tidy that work space. By tidying it, you are getting rid of the mess which can sometimes cause added stress. Once the space is clean, you need to organise the space ready for Monday morning.
What I do is I put anything I need on the table. So, my laptop, note book, pen, charger and water bottle. I then lay it out so it is neat and tidy, tuck my chair in and walk away. This allows me to feel ready for the next working day and know I don’t have to worry about not having everything I need for Monday.
Now that the work space is finished, you can write a to-do list. You can use a normal notebook or you can buy to-do list books. Write anything you need to do for the next day, whether its work-related or a random job which you need to do.
To do lists are very helpful for three reasons:
1. They help you remember everything you want / need to do
2. The feeling of ticking off a job relives the stress of the job
3. Once you have gone down the list and ticked a lot of stuff off, you can see how much you have achieved that day which can make you feel more motivated for the next day. Once the to do list is done, put in on the desk with all your work stuff, that way you can go back to it during the day.
Now for the fun part. Do anything you do to relax. Watch a film, have a bath, do a face mask, play a game on the Play Station or Xbox, bake a cake, do some cleaning – whatever you want to do! But, try to do something that you don’t do regularly – that way it feels like a treat as well as something to relax and help you unwind.
The last thing for Selfcare Sunday is make sure you get enough sleep. Because if you are tired the next morning, then it feels like everything you did the previous night was all for nothing!
Things to do on Selfcare Sunday:
Go for a walk
Call a friend
Watch a film
Start a series
Play a game
Read a book
Clean your room/ house
Have a bath or shower
Kick a ball around
Practise a new hobby
Sleep is one of the most, if not the most, important thing you can do for yourself in order to improve and maintain your mental health. Getting the right amount of sleep allows the body to repair itself and the brain to properly process information.
Having a poor sleeping pattern is linked to many physical problems, for example: a weak immune system and / or mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Sleep has the power to recharge the brain at the end of each day. If a person maintains a regular sleep cycle, it allows the natural rhythm of the body to rest after each day resulting in the brain functioning properly.
Maintaining a regular sleeping pattern can make or break a person. Every person is different when it comes to sleep, so it is important to listen to your own body and work out the best time for you to sleep and wake up in order for you to get the best possible results from yourself.
As well as sleep, food is another contributing factor to mood and mental health. The saying “you are what you eat” is surprisingly accurate. If all you eat is junk food and rubbish then all you get from your body is rubbish. It is really important to eat the “bad” food in moderation, otherwise it can lead to very unhealthy eating disorders like binge eating and bulimia, not to mention the increased risk of obesity.
While nutrition is known for its key role in physical health it also has a direct effect on our emotional wellbeing. Food choices can cause more problems than people realise, such as low mood which can lead to depression.
A lot of nutritionists call your stomach “the second brain’” This is due to the link between your brain and the gastrointestinal tract (the organs that food and liquid travel through – mouth, throat, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus). These organs house billions of bacteria which prompt the chemical substances to carry message from the gut to the brain.
Healthy eating promotes the growth of “good” bacteria which affects the neurotransmitter production in a positive way, whereas a diet of junk food can cause inflammation that hinders production.
Acknowledge how you are feeling:
Acknowledging how you are feeling really helps with lifting your mood and help you work out what you or others need to do in order to improve your mental health. One way of doing this is by writing it down, kind of like a diary. When you are faced with writing something down, like how you are feeling, it forces you to tap into the real reason of why you are feeling a certain way.
Sometimes just writing the problem down can feel like a release, as if you’ve got the problem off your chest and spoken about it to someone. Other times, it’s a way of getting lots of thoughts out of your head.
For example, if you’re struggling to sleep because you have got what I like to call ‘fog brain’ – where there’s so much going on in your head that everything appear confused and foggy – write down everything that is bouncing around in your brain and causing you to still be awake.
This can sometimes feel like a release as well as acting like a reminder for you in the morning of any of the important things that you needed to remember but were struggling to because of the fog.