Emotional health can have an enormous effect on our sense of wellbeing. A number of personal and environmental factors contribute to our emotional health such as stress arising from life circumstances.
Prolonged and not properly managed stress levels are associated with reduced health and wellbeing such as:
|| low self esteem leading to depression and/or anxiety|
||high blood pressure|
||relationship problems and |
||sexual difficulties and others|
Staying mentally healthy isn’t just about treating illness –far from it!
There are lots of things we can do to help prevent ourselves getting ill in the first place, and plenty more we can try if we (or those around us) do encounter problems.
So, to get you started, we’ve put together these top tips for Positive Mental Health.
1. Eat a balanced diet: a growing body of research shows direct links between what we eat and how we feel. Mind, the mental health charity, has produced a useful guide to mood and food.
2. Drink sensibly: even though it might make us feel good in the short term, alcohol is a depressant drug. Even a small amount of alcohol before bed stops us getting enough deep sleep to feel properly refreshed – and the world never looks good through a hangover. Avoiding too much alcohol is crucial for both our mental and physical wellbeing, but particularly when we're feeling low or anxious.
3. Keep in touch with friends and loved ones: friends form the foundation of our ability to cope with the problems that life throws at us. Expressing yourself to friends and family members can make a huge difference and provide an important source of support. So make sure you devote time to maintaining your friendships and family relationships.
4. Take exercise: the effects of exercise on mood are immediate. Whether it is a workout in the gym or a simple walk or bike ride, it can be uplifting. Exercise can also be great fun and sociable.
5. Get enough sleep: physically it is the time when the body can renew its energy store but sleep also helps us to rebuild our mental energy. Aim for eight hours shut-eye every night.
6. Three good things: Keep some paper and a pen by your bedside and every night for a week write down three good things that happened to you that day. By the end of the week you may be surprised at how much more positive you feel. Some psychologists say that it's human nature to focus on the negative aspects of our lives. What this technique helps to do is re-educate us to pay attention to the good and positive things in our lives.
7. Ask for help: Anyone can feel low or get depressed so, if you need help, don't be afraid to ask. Seeking help early is the best course of action to help prevent a problem getting worse. Asking for help is a sign of strength and responsibility, not weakness.
8. Set yourself realistic goals: Rome wasn't built in a day. Even the most ambitious and complex tasks can be broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Setting realistic, achievable goals is a good way of keeping spirits up and keeping moving forward. Write down what they are and when you hope to have them completed. Don't feel bad if you have to change your plans along the way as long as you're clear on the reasons why. Remember to congratulate yourself every time a goal is reached!
9. Get involved: don't stand on the sidelines! Find a way to get involved and make a contribution, however little, at home, at work or in the community. People are often happiest when helping others.
10. Keep an eye on personal stress: some pressure is unavoidable – and some can be motivating – but stress is harmful to both mental and physical wellbeing (stress is when pressures exceed our ability to cope). If you find you're not sleeping, becoming ill-tempered, having difficulty concentrating, worrying a lot, eating a lot more or a lot less, or feeling 'on edge' all the time then you should take a step back and consider how much pressure you are under. See what you can do to remove or reduce sources of pressure in your life. Meanwhile, deal with the effects of stress by relaxing more and using other, positive coping methods
If you are experiencing mental health problems, or you are caring for someone who has, you should contact your own doctor.
www.journeysonline.org.uk – supporting people to find their route to recovery from depression.