"Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community." (World Health Organization (WHO)).

 

Even if you do not have a Mental Health Condition there may be times or situations that you find more difficult than other

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Looking After Your Mental Well-being

 

Some things that we can do to help sustain our mental well-being -

 

Talk About How You Feel

If you are finding things difficult, talking about how you feel with someone can help - 'a problem shared is a problem halved', in the same way 'a joy shared is a joy doubled'. Sometimes they may be a able to offer practical advice and support and even if they can't often we just feel better having talked something through. This does not always need to be someone you know and some may find it easier to talk to someone they do not know, such as the Samaritans. Remember, talking about your feelings isn't a sign of weakness but a part of taking charge and helping ensure you stay well.

 

Connect With Other People

Spend time with your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Good relationships – with our family, friends and the wider community have a positive impact on our physical and mental well-being, helping us feel more secure and give us a greater sense of purpose, helping us feel needed and cared for. They can also give us a different viewpoint and help us see things from a different perspective.
There are ways we can build stronger and closer relationships:
•     Make time each day to spend with the people around you.
•     Arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while.
•     Speak to someone new today.
•     Have lunch with a colleague.
•     If you have a Mental Health Condition you may feel more able to relate with people with a shared experience so you could look to see if there is a Peer Support Group in your area or you        may decide to start one
•     Take up an activity that you are interested in and you may find people with similar interests

 

Some people, especially if you have a Mental Health Condition, may struggle with feelings of loneliness, making it more difficult to form and maintain relationships or feel connected to the people in their lives. For information and advice about how to increase your social contact and overcome feelings of loneliness, see Mind's - How to cope with loneliness.

 

Look After Your Physical Health
Sleep patterns, diet and physical activity all impact on mental well-being.
Sleep - Try to get enough sleep. Poor sleep can make us more irritable, less confident and negative thoughts worse. If you need advice about developing a good sleep routine see Mind's - How to cope with sleep problems


What you Eat - we need to eat a wide variety of foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, oily fish, wholegrain varieties of bread, rice, pasta, dairy/dairy substitutes and water to ensure our body gets the range of nutrients it requires. Try scheduling regular meal times, eat at least 3 meals a day and not to skip meals. Try to avoid convenience food as they tend to be high in salt, sugar and fat. Try making extra portions of freshly cooked food to freeze that you can use when you are not feeling able to cook from scratch. Avoiding or reducing alcohol intake and staying clear of tobacco and recreational drugs can also improve your well-being. 

Physical Activity - Being active helps reduce stress and improve mental health by stimulating the brain to release feel good chemicals, especially if it is outdoors. It also can boost self-esteem, ability to concentrate and our sleeping patterns. Even a short brisk walk to give yourself space and time on a regular basis can make a real difference. Find it hard to motivate yourself, why not arrange to exercise alongside someone else or join an physical activity group e.g. walking group or you may prefer something like gardening.

 

 

Do Something You Enjoy/Something New
This can help you relax, feel more confident and stay well. This could be reading, cooking, gardening, talking a walk, seeing friends or doing something creative such as drawing, writing, sewing, singing. You may wish to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.

 

Do Something for Someone Else
Helping someone do something or volunteering has been shown to have a positive effect on well-being. It can help improve self-confidence, meet new people, give you a sense of purpose and that you are making a contribution to your community. For information about volunteering see NCVO Volunteering, CSV Volunteering or Volunteering Wales

 

 

Try to Relax

It is important to regularly give yourself time to switch-off. A change of scene or pace is good for our well-being. A warm bath, listening to music, reading, stretching exercises or doing something you enjoy may allow you to relax. Learning a relaxation technique such as breathing exercises, yoga, mindfulness or meditation and practising this regularly may help you to relax and de-stress. Some find alternative therapies such as massage, reflexology, acupuncture or reiki helps them relax and their mental well-being. You can find a list of accredited practitioners at the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council

Identify Mood Triggers
Recording your mood can help you recognise changes in your mood and what effects your mental well-being. This can allow you to avoid or change situations that have a negative impact on you. Even if you cannot change the situation knowing your triggers enables you to go easy on yourself at these times.  

 

Caring for Yourself in Difficult Times
We all at times experience challenging situations or not feel ourselves and find it hard to cope. It is important to try to accept this as Natural and in No Way something lacking in you. It is important not to put too much pressure on yourself and may need to take time off from some of your responsibilities, reduce your workload or social engagements. Do not be afraid to ask for help with  everyday activities. If your feelings become overwhelming please try to talk to someone and you can contact the Samaritans day or night.

 

Learn to Accept Yourself
We are all different and that is a good thing. If you can value yourself you are more likely to have positive relationships with others and be better able to cope with difficult situations. Some things that can help foster better self esteem are -
Try not to compare yourself to others.
Try not to strive for perfection.
Try listing your positive qualities and things you are good at or ask someone who knows you well to do so, as sometimes we can find it difficult to identify these ourselves.
Learn to identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns - use self-help books and websites to help
Spend time with supportive people.
Be assertive – don’t allow people to treat you with a lack of respect.
Engage in work and hobbies that you enjoy.
Accepting oneself can be difficult and particularly if you feel that low self-esteem is having a significant impact on your mental well-being. You may find it helpful to talk about your feelings with a therapist. Your GP can refer you to a local Talking Service. NHS waiting times can be long and you may wish to consider private therapy. Some private therapists offer reduced rates for those on limited income. You can find accredited private therapists at BACP and BABCP