The 10th October is World Mental Health Day. At Vita Health Group, we are dedicated to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of others. The current dynamic and changing environment is an important moment to reflect on good practice and how to look after ourselves by asking two key questions:
Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs. Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives. When we think about our physical health, we know that there’s a place for keeping ourselves fit, and a place for getting appropriate help as early as possible so we can get better. Mental health is just the same.
If you enjoy good mental health, you can:
Our mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It fluctuates as circumstances change and as you move through different stages in your lives. When we feel emotionally challenged, we need a compassionate and human response, firstly from ourselves. The earlier we are able to recognise when something isn’t quite right, the earlier we can act.
Looking after your mental health at work
We can all take steps to improve our own mental health and build our resilience – our ability to cope with adversity. Self-care is a skill that needs to be practised. It isn’t easy especially if we feel anxious, depressed or low in self-esteem.
There’s bound to be one or two areas of self-care you do well. These can be your ASSETS – your go-to methods for working on your wellbeing.
Look for one or two you find hard. These can be your CHALLENGES. It may be that these areas are the ones you neglect under stress – for example drinking too much, isolating yourself or comfort eating, are all examples of ways we try and cope that are the opposite of what the evidence tells us works for our mental health.
Caring for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. Working life can provide opportunities to care for others. In most jobs, you can choose to be there for colleagues – either as a teammate, or as a line manager, and strategies like offering coaching and training are good ways to support others.
Helping others can make us feel needed and valued and can boost our self-esteem. Volunteering can also be hugely rewarding, and it helps us to see the world from another angle. This can help to put our own struggles into perspective.
Whilst caring for others generally helps us, we must be aware of our responsibility to ourselves.
None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. When this happens it’s important to focus on areas of our life, we can control to help maintain our own wellbeing.
Eat well – What we eat can affect how we feel both immediately and in the longer term. A diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
For busy times, or times when you are feeling low or stressed, try reducing or giving up caffeine and refined sugar. Make sure there is a ready supply of fruit/vegetables and snacks like nuts or trail mix that provides ready nutrients. Regular meals, plus plenty of water are key.
Drink sensibly – We often drink alcohol to change our mood, enhance sociability, to escape problems, for enjoyment, or for ritualistic reasons. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. Most of us recognise that we tend to drink more at the weekend or in the evening when work or homelife has been tough. Drink may appear to help in the short term, but the after-effects can increase low mood, affect sleep quality or increase anxiety in the longer term.
If you recognise you have an unhealthy routine with alcohol, why don’t you use the idea of ‘Drink Free Days’ and pledge to change your habits for your own health and wellbeing.
Keep in touch – Relationships are key to our mental health. Having supportive family, friends and colleagues is hugely important for our mental health. In times of pressure, you need to practise more self-care, but you may also need to address Relationship difficulties. Try and make sure you maintain your friendships and family relationships even when you are feeling low or stressed
Take a break – A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from what you are doing, reading a book, listening to a podcast or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Ensure you allow yourself some ‘me time’. Sleep is essential to our mental health, listen to your body and what it needs. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers, and our concentration goes downhill.
Stay active – Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate more, sleep easier and look and feel better about yourself.
Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sports or going to the gym. Experts say that most people should do about 30 minutes’ exercise at least five days a week. Try to make a physical activity that you enjoy a part of your day. This could be walking the dog, cycling, running, swimming or even gardening.
Covid-19 and your mental health
Remember, we are living through unprecedented times and the changed ways we are living, and working will impact our daily lives and our wellbeing. There will be positives that we can experience but also some extremely challenging times.
And finally ask for help
We understand these challenges and we are here to listen and support you. If you’ve have had a bad day, need to talk to someone confidentially or are dealing with a difficult life event or ongoing struggle that needs support.
Make the World Mental Health Day’s theme of ‘greater access to mental health’ be a reason to call us for you – no matter your circumstance.