This week is Mental Health week, and the theme this year is Kindness – the kindness that we can show to others by simply being there for them. And, also, the kindness that we can show to ourselves by nurturing both body and mind.
During these peculiar times, many of us may be feeling that our mental health is more fragile than normal. Feelings of anxiety are natural when your known world is in turmoil, but we can take positive action to help to reduce our anxieties and to manage our stress levels.
It can be useful to think of our mental health in the same way that we think of our physical health. Sometimes we are on top form and reach our personal best, sometimes we struggle and our bodies ache. But we carry on, maybe adapting our training schedule for a while in order to focus on specific elements that will help us overall.
There are 5 specific elements that have been shown to help us to improve our mental health and wellbeing:
Connect maintaining our social relationships takes more effort at present, but is important – try & connect with at least one other person every day. This is good for you, and may also be a lifeline for them!
Move regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression across all age groups – maintain a regular daily schedule for additional benefits. Joining a live online local class will give you some social contact as well.
Notice being aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your wellbeing – take time to notice what is around you now, this moment. The natural world is a good place to start, maybe take a walk and consciously look closely at your surroundings.
Learn continued learning enhances self esteem, and setting goals is strongly related to higher levels of wellbeing – try one of the online learning programmes that deals with a subject you have an interest in.
Give people who help others feel happier – there are lots of opportunities at present for helping others, either formally or informally. The NHS volunteers’ website is temporarily closed to new volunteers because of unprecedented numbers, but you can register with the Red Cross volunteer scheme to help locally with all sorts of stuff, perhaps delivering food or befriending isolated people.
Part of mental health awareness is also about talking more openly than we did in the past. My Mum suffered from schizophrenia for a large part of her adult life, and she tried to keep it a secret to avoid being ‘labelled’. Not talking about mental health issues was the norm. Now, with increasing awareness we can also increase understanding.
1 in 3 visits to GPs are mental-health related, and over 300 million people worldwide, of all ages, suffer from depression. This is why we need to understand more about how to increase our mental resilience, to help us cope more effectively. Please try the ‘5 ways to Wellbeing’, and see how you get on.
Sources & Further Information: 'Mental Health Awareness for Sport and Physical Activity' UK Coaching https://www.ukcoaching.org/, Mind https://www.mind.org.uk/, Sport England https://www.sportengland.org/