2020 was one of the most surreal years for all of us worldwide, 2021 wasn’t really much better. As we approach World Mental Health Day 2021, I’d like to reintroduce my series of mental health tips, along with some new ones and links of where to go for useful information.
World Mental Health Day is marked on 10th October every year and was started by the World Health Organisation to raise awareness of mental health issues all over the world.
Each year, a different mental health charity or organisation choses a topic to focus on for World Mental Health Day. Previous years have covered mental health in the workplace, for teenagers and young people, the older population and specific mental health conditions such as schizophrenia.
2020 focused on mental health for everyone. It’s as if there was a virtual crystal ball when choosing the topic, as poor mental health is now a huge problem for people of all generations. The current climate has seen more people suffering from mental health issues than ever.
Older people have become isolated and lonely, as have people who have been told to work from home. Younger generations have seen their schooling and socialising interrupted. Many people now have fears for their jobs, their homes and relationships. Media propaganda and overload, has caused rifts between friends and family. Some people have become so scared of the virus they have become agoraphobic, while others have become immersed in conspiracy theories.
Whatever your belief or fear, Covid has had a huge impact on mental wellbeing. This is on top of all the other factors that contribute to failing mental health, and the millions of people who already live with pre-existing mental illnesses, needs addressing.
The topic for 2021 is Mental Health in an Unequal World to highlight the struggle to access mental health services within class, race and disability.
Below I’ve included some ways that I’ve coped during the pandemic, and links to my previous series of self help tips and several professional organisations that can help you with your mental health.
THINGS THAT HELP ME IMPROVE MY MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING
Everyone is unique and will find that somethings are more successful than others at improving mental health. You should always seek professional help, but here are some of the things that help my mental wellbeing.
Reduce my time on social media
I’m sure there are many studies on the effect of social media on mental health, and it’s something that concerns me greatly, especially for the younger generation.
It’s hard to leave social media alone isn’t it? But if you’re feeling depressed or anxious it can be the first thing you turn to for company.
I find that social media leaves me feeling lonely and inadequate at the best of times, but when I’m depressed or anxious, I feel a whole lot worse. I try to limit myself to checking in the morning and then log out.
Switch off the news
There was a time at the where we were all religiously watching the news and the prime minister’s address each day, but it was just too much. I cannot cope with all the doom and gloom, and although I get notifications on my phone of breaking news, I don’t click on the article unless I feel it’s imperative that I read it.
Having a daily walk has been beneficial for me in so many ways: obviously the fitness aspect is obvious, but it’s also good for feeling gratitude. It’s been wonderful to observe the changes in nature throughout the year, and just to talk without any interruptions.
Qi Gong & Yoga
I’ve long advocated Qi Gong and tai chi, but this year I’ve also discovered yoga. They all have benefits for the body, but the deep breathing and focus needed is of huge benefit for the mind too (see my links below for free exercise videos).
Music has been a lifelong interest of mine. Different genres for different moods, but there’s nothing quite like having a sing and a dance along to your favourite tunes, even if it is in the privacy of your own home.
Gardening is another nod towards feeling gratitude towards nature and being in the outdoors. The feelings of wellbeing that you get from nurturing your garden, whether it’s for flowers or food, is very fulfilling. I’ve focused on making a bee friendly garden, and having the bees and butterflies show their appreciation has been uplifting.
Having a healthy diet is well documented, and needed to maintain a healthy mind. But I do believe in rewarding myself with a treat at the weekends too. Again, the effect of baking is good for my mind.
Good sleep hygiene
Practising good sleep hygiene is imperative. Even if I don’t have to get up early, I still do and stick to my morning routine. I certainly feel the difference if I don’t.
Chatting to friends and family
I’ve found that having long phone calls or meeting in person for a walk has been far more fulfilling that the odd message, like or comment on social media.
As much as my blog causes me frustration (other bloggers will get what I’m talking about), it also allows me to be expressive. I’ve tried painting, drawing and colouring but have no skill or patience with any of them. Writing allows me to be creative. Writing for external sources is just as rewarding if not more so.
I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to blog, but even writing your thoughts in a diary, especially if it’s a gratitude journal is a way to get your thoughts out.
Do any of these resonate with you?
For newer readers, or long term readers that may now need them, I’d like to remind you that several years ago I wrote a series of mental health posts including my mental health journey. It was a form of therapy in itself, but I mostly wrote it to try and help others.
You can access them via relevant topics below. Sometimes it can be extremely useful to read that others have been through what you are. It helps to feel less alone, and can give hope.
I do hope that something here will help someone. I can only speak from experience, I am by no means an expert so do check out some of the websites listed below to get professional help.
SELF HELP TIPS FOR MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING
Self Help & Medical Tips
* MEDICAL HELP
* LEARN AND ACCEPT
* A MENTAL HEALTH DIET
* SLEEP & DUVET DAYS
* PANIC ATTACKS
* SUICIDE AWARENESS
* TALK SUPPORT
* QI GONG & TAI CHI
* MEDITATION, HYPNOSIS & RELAXATION
* ADVICE FOR CARERS & FRIENDS
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with their mental health, do check out these links for professional and charitable mental health organisations.
MENTAL HEALTH CHARITIES & ORGANISATIONS
Click the blue titles to go directly to their websites.
are a free 24 hour service that is open all year round to anyone who is feeling suicidal. You can call 116 123, chat online, send an email or even write a letter. They also have an app to track your symptoms and help you cope.
There is lots of information on the NHS website that includes symptoms, treatments, useful tips, etc.. You can even download an app to help you. Patients can also now refer themselves for talk therapy via the online form.
You can also access this service and other treatments via your GP.
have a fantastic website full of useful resources, news and stories from people who actually suffer from all kinds of mental health conditions themselves.
Mental Health Foundation
A society that works towards prevention, education and research. They have a great A-Z section where you will be able to access information easily on the illness that is affecting you the most.
CALM is a charity set up to specifically help men in the 15-35 age bracket.