This June bank holiday weekend it’s important to make a little time for yourself and for others – schools are off, people are cashing in on holidays and it can be a busy and stressful time. With that in mind, the HSE have published a few tips, just some ‘little things’ that you can do to help your mental health.
- Talk it out: We’re all guilty of harbouring our personal problems/stressful situations, not wanting to burden friends and family… but we need to realise this is merely a short term solution to a long term problem. Conversations are crucial & take a surprising amount of weight off our shoulders. Whether it’s a medical professional or simply a friend – it’s important to talk it out and avoid small problems escalating.
- Start your day in a positive way: This small simple task that can give you great perspective for the day ahead. Every morning when you wake up, make a note (either mental or on paper) of 5 things you are grateful for – “a gratitude journal”. It might take discipline to get started but negativity is a pervasive emotion but you can break the cycle by reminding yourself of #littlethings you feel positive about.
- Get your body moving: Easier said than done perhaps, but the importance of releasing plenty of happy endorphins when you’re not feeling yourself is paramount. You don’t have to commit to becoming a gym bunny or sign up for Marathons – start small with brisk walks on a sunny evening, dancing with friends, cycling to work or even hiking with friends at the weekend. The release of a light jog when you’re frustrated might just surprise you.
- Make the kitchen your friend: After a long hard & irritating day the simple solution is to treat ourselves to something delicious, easy & probably not that nutritionally beneficial for dinner…. bad idea. Good food is essential to make sure your mind and body work properly. It doesn’t have to be a gourmet meal but, picking a few simple 30 minute recipes to create a healthy, balanced & therefore guilt free meal can be extremely gratifying. Buy a bag of nuts to snack on, put on your favourite album & get started!
- Don’t just count sheep: The benefits of a good night’s sleep are self-evident yet still most of us struggle to get our 8 hours. Lying awake with your mind racing often ruin our best intentions to get an “early night”. Believe it or not a good sleep routine takes work & there are #littlethings we can do to encourage a sounder sleep on a nightly basis. Cut down on caffeine -especially in the evening, turn your phone off an hour before bed & develop a wind down routine with a good book or ambient music. Allow the mind to relax & prepare for rest.
- Expand your network of friends: When you’re struggling / frustrated or going through a tough time, fresh friendly faces can be a great distraction & new source of support. Sure, meeting new people can be daunting but putting yourself out there can do wonders for your confidence. Muck in with the local community and get involved with social group activities. Check out your local radio stations “Community Diary” segment to find plenty of #littlethings happening in your local area. No doubt your local Tidy Towns Committee or five aside squad would love a new member.
- Take the time to relax: With such busy lifestyles, often we forget to slow down and relax. There are so many #littlethings we can do to calm ourselves & slow our minds down. A simple start is to focus on your breathing. Concentrate on every particle of rich oxygen that flows into your body and use the soothing effects to regain control of the situation. Along with that look at meditation you can do from home, join a local yoga class or better yet take a class on mindfulness.
- Try something different/creative: Did you know that nine of the top 20 best-selling publications on Amazon at present are adult colouring books? They’re a fantastic diversion. If that’s not your cup of tea, try some other #littlethings such as knitting, photography, singing, writing – anything that increases your confidence and takes your mind to a happier place.
- Reduce Alcohol intake: Reducing alcohol consumption is very often an obvious yet overlooked solution to coping with mental health issues. What may seem like a way to deal/forget about problem is more often than not just making it harder for us to cope with day to day stresses. A gentle reminder, alcohol is a depressant and over consumption can increase anxiety and lead to depression. As well as that drinking too much can contribute to memory loss, sleep difficulties and many other serious health problems. A great way to ‘turn in early’ and say no to gatherings with friends where alcohol is consumed is by making productive morning plans with friends and committing to them. Drink less and great nights become good mornings.
- Please Talk: Yes, talking gets a second mention- but it’s one of the most important #littlethings you can do. You might expect that those closest to you will notice when you’re not feeling the best, but sometimes people are cautious & don’t want to interfere. Pick the right moment so you can chat without interruption, in a comfortable setting. If it’s hard to articulate your thoughts, try putting them on paper first. Just writing down your feelings can be therapeutic in itself. Confide in somebody you trust. If you need to talk to someone right now, free call Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected]. Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Brought to you by the HSE #littlethings – for more information visit yourmentalhealth.ie