To support Mental Health Awareness Week (10th – 16th May 2021) we’ve put together a mental health checkpoint for our readers. Take 5 minutes out of your day to check in with your mental health and read our tips on how to actively improve your mental health every day.
During this pandemic, millions of us have experienced a mental health problem or seen a loved one struggle. Check out Mind to see how you can contribute and join the fight for mental health.
So, what is mental health and what can you be doing to actively improve yours?
What is mental health?
Mental health is overlooked by many of us in society, what can often be brushed off as attention seeking or laziness might be an early warning sign of a mental health problem.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
What are the early mental health warning signs to look out for?
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
How can I improve my mental health?
Evidence suggests that there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.
Connect with others
If possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together. Arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while, have lunch with a colleague or make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart.
Be physically active
Find fun activities to help you get fit, whether that is walking to your favourite playlist, playing a sport or joining a class at the gym. Do not feel that you have to spend hours in a gym. It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life.
Learn new skills
Try learning to cook something new, take on a new responsibility at work, work on a DIY project or take up something you’ve always wanted to do (writing a blog, a new sport or learning to paint). Do not feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you.
Give to others
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental well-being by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward, giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and helping you connect with other people.
Some examples include asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer, spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company, offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project or volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home.
Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
How can Mind help?
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health problems Mind have lots of information to help you understand and manage your situation. Whether you need practical tips to help you if you’re feeling overwhelmed or detailed explanations of your friend’s mental health problem there are plenty of tools available right now.
Alternatively, Mind have an Infoline (0300 123 3393) which is available Monday – Friday 9am to 6pm and can offer advise on mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options and advocacy services.