To mark World Mental Health Day, we caught up with three members of staff who each discuss simple tips you can incorporate into your daily life to improve your mood.

Talking

By Debbie Lynch, Head of Service – Calderdale

Despite the growing focus on mental health in recent years there is still a lot of stigma. Talking about mental health issues isn’t always easy, but it definitely matters. In my experience, I was concerned about what other people would think and how they might view me differently if they knew I was struggling. 

In reality, not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. Carrying the load by yourself can weigh you down and not only impact you mentally but also physically. There is an old saying which is ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and I believe this to be very true. Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around for a while. 

Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. We all bottle things up and once you do talk about it, you will realise that you are not on your own and that people around you may have experienced similar feelings. You may feel more comfortable opening up to friends or family, or you might find it easier to approach a professional. There is no wrong or right way; it’s what feels right for you.

Exercise

By Dale Robinson, CSA Mental Health Team Manager

For some, the thought of getting out of breath, sweaty and drained is exhausting!  Strangely enough, these are also symptoms of low mood and anxiety, and even stranger is that exercise combats these feelings. Throughout my life, exercise has been my escape, and when swept away by turbulent tides my savior, dragging me back to shore.

For me, exercise is about willfully taking yourself to a place of discomfort, defiantly standing your ground and shouting: ‘I can do this and I will get through this’. Exercise taught me the mindset that pushing through whatever pain you may experience in life, the scarred tissue is a fundamental building block for inner strength and resilience, moving me from a ‘Why me?’ mentality to a ‘Try me!’ war cry.

On a physiological level, stress and anxiety causes the release of the hormone Cortisol that gives the body a boost to fight or run away from the danger.  You feel terrible because your body is shouting: “Get up and get the hell out of here!”. So listen to that message and start moving.

Exercise releases a hormone called Oxytocin, which controls those anxious Cortisol feelings and make you feel a little high. It is responsible for that awesome rush felt when you are doing something you love. You still feel its effects long after your workout as it helps with recovery. Exercise is beneficial for both the physical and emotional maintenance of our mental wellbeing and although it can be a mean Drill Sergeant at times, through thick and thin, it has always got my back.

Routines

By Tracey O’Connell, Head of HR

We are all creatures of habit and having routines can greatly improve your health and wellbeing. When we don’t have any type of routine, we are more likely to experience stress, poor sleep, poor diet and are less likely to exercise. Having a routine and structure to your day and week can bring enormous health benefits, both for your mental and physical health.

Lack of sleep and the quality of your rest can have an impact on your emotional wellbeing and energy levels. Without a routine you may find yourself staying awake worrying about the things you didn’t get done, or worrying about the fact that you don’t get enough sleep. Adults need around eight hours of sleep a night and having a regular bed-time and wake-up routine can help you improve the quality of your rest. Better sleep with leave you refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

Having a good diet, and making time to eat well, will have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing. Planning time in your week for food shopping will help you avoid selecting quick, unhealthy substitutes. Planning time in your day to prepare, cook and eat your meals without rushing will also have a positive impact. Get up a little earlier so that you have time to eat breakfast. Make sure that you take a break during the day for lunch. Plan your evening meals so that you have the time to cook, eat and enjoy your meal.

Also, plan time in your day or week for relaxation. Maybe you enjoy quiet meditation, curling up with a good book, or lying on the couch watching Netflix. However you like to relax, make sure that you make time for you.

Having a routine that works for you and that includes time to eat, exercise, relax and sleep will lead to reduced stress levels and improved mental health. Everyone is unique. Not everyone requires a fully scheduled day to reap the health benefits of a routine, so make the choices that work for you.

More mental health tips can be found here, courtesy of our friends at Andy’s Man Club.

If you live in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale or Craven, you can also call the First Response Team on 0800 952 1181. The service offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to people of all ages.

If you are worried about someone’s mental health, or your own, you can call Samaritans on 116 123.

The Mind website offers a wide range of help and advice about managing your mental health: https://www.mind.org.uk/ There is also advice on this website if you are caring for someone with a mental health problem or condition.

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[Cover image via Shutterstock]

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