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Improve your wellbeing this World Mental Health Day

by Laura Johnston

Mental health problems can affect anyone, on any day, but World Mental Health Day on 10 October is an opportunity to start looking after your wellbeing.

Mental health is about the way you think and feel and your ability to deal with life’s ups and downs. Sometimes people talk about it as their ‘emotional health’ or wellbeing. It’s really useful to be aware of the simple steps you can take to improve your mental health.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, there are ten steps to wellbeing; everyday actions and activities which can instantly boost your mood and improve your overall mental health if you do them regularly.

Cllr Shelley Powell, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Wellbeing and Customer Services said:

“World Mental Health Day provides a great opportunity for us all to take a moment to reflect on what we could possibly do differently to help improve our mental wellbeing. The ten steps to wellbeing are simple but really effective ways to boost your mood and improve the way you’re feeling. I’d encourage everyone to try and incorporate as many of these activities into your daily life as possible.”

Ten steps to wellbeing

Keep active

Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and look and feel better. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym. Walks in the park, gardening or housework can also keep you active. Experts say that most people should do about 30 minutes’ exercise at least five days a week. Try to make being active part of your day.

Talk about your feelings

Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.

Learn something new

It’s never too late to learn a new skill or take on a new challenge – like trying out a new recipe, learning to play an instrument, going to a dance class or getting back on your bike. It can be rewarding, make you feel good and will help you forget your worries for a while. It doesn’t have to be anything significant and could simply be reading a new book or doing the crossword.

Eat Well

A healthy, balanced diet is as good for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Try and eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables; two portions of fish a week, one of which is oily; eat less red and processed meat, more beans and pulses; opt for lower fat dairy products and unsaturated oils and lower fat spreads also drink plenty of water.

Keep in touch

Having strong supportive relationships with family and friends can help you deal with the stresses of life. Family and friends can make you feel included and cared for. It’s not always possible to catch up with someone face to face, but catching up on the phone or sending a message or keeping in touch via social media are all good ways to keep in touch.

Take a break

Give yourself some ‘me’ time. It may mean not doing very much at all. It could be a half-hour lunch break at work, taking part in an exercise class, or a weekend away exploring somewhere new.

Listen to your body. If you’re really tired, give yourself enough time to sleep. Without good sleep our mental health and ability to concentrate will suffer.

Drink less alcohol

Lots of people like to unwind with a glass of something at the end of the day or to forget about their problems, however a couple of drinks a night can soon add up and drinking too much too often can put your health at risk. Drinking to change your mood or to deal with difficult feelings doesn’t solve your problems and when the alcohol wears off you feel worse because of the way alcohol has affected your brain.

Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. By sticking to these guidelines you can lower your risk of harming your health.

Accept who you are

We are all different. Recognise and accept how you look and the things you may not be good at, but also focus on what you can do well. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Remember what people post on social media isn’t always how it is in real life so don’t compare your life to theirs!

Ask for help

If things are getting too much and you feel you can’t cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your family, friends and work colleagues may be able to offer some practical help or a listening ear. If you feel your mood has been affected over several weeks and you feel you need further support, please make an appointment to see you GP.  They will be able to refer you on for specialist support.

Care for yourself and others

A simple act of kindness to a friend, family member or stranger can go a long way to making you feel good and will make the other person smile too. Volunteer work can help us feel needed and valued and that helps us to feel good about ourselves and boosts our self-esteem. It may also help put our own problems into perspective.

Find out more about looking after your mental health and about leading a healthy lifestyle by searching ‘Healthy Knowsley’.