Today marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week.
As a person who has suffered from Anxiety Disorder myself for many years and finally learnt to overcome and manage it, I feel that I can contribute in some small way to helping those that may find themselves in an uncomfortable place.
When it comes to the mental health of the nation, it has been recorded that 50% of people in the UK are suffering from anxiety as a direct result of lockdown. This is because all the uncertainty and constant focus on the negative news that causes minds to race away and imagine the worst.
Many have tried to keep calm and carry on as usual, but it has not been easy. Conditions such as anxiety and depression have simply been simmering under the radar and will blow out of proportion if not helped or managed correctly.
Business owners are especially susceptible to these conditions given the huge amount of stress and strain they are undergoing as a result of their businesses being shut down and incomes having ceased altogether.
Team members are also going through this difficult time as many have been furloughed and feel their futures may be uncertain.
Add to the mix the uncertainty of when dentists can re-open, the increased PPE and its associated costs and the new protocols for Health & Safety, and you have yourself a nice cocktail for mental health disorders.
But all is not lost.
There are many things that you can do to help yourself. I feel that early intervention is the key. When you start to feel low, you need to take action to combat it.
Here are a few tips that I use that can help you to keep a healthy mind:
- It doesn’t have to be hard, just something you enjoy that will release those endorphins!
- Try to eat a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Have long conversational dinners with your family or partner. Enjoy being with each other. Learn something new about each other. Or play games together and have fun.
- Practice Mindfulness. A great book to help you understand this and includes is guided mindfulness meditations is “Mindfulness” by Mark Williams and Danny Penman. I have used this book and the associated audio to smithereens. It is fantastic!
- A great tip is the power of 3: when you wake up, notice 3 things in detail; hear three things and feel three things. This helps you to be present.
- Use mobile apps that include a variety of guided meditations and lesson of various lengths. Some good ones are Insight Timer, Headspace & Calm. The key to meditation is to do them regularly. It takes time to get your mind attuned to relaxing and for you to see the results.
- Other meditations are ones that use binaural beats, which are great at putting you into a meditative state quicker, especially for the beginner. They are said to improve sleep, lower stress and enhance your cognitive performance. Other types include use of delta waves, alpha binaural and isochronic tones within the sub-delta range.
- Just listening to calming music like piano or oceanic waves or Tibetan singing bowls is also great.
- Put on your favourite music and dance!
- Develop a routine whilst you are in lockdown. A morning routine is essential to get you focusing on positive forward-moving things in your life. This could include journaling your thoughts, meditation, exercise or simply pampering after yourself.
- Develop some positive goals you can focus on instead of what is happening in the world. Taking action means that you are moving forward and doing something about your situation. Inaction can take you on a downward slope of mental health. Take action towards things you can control rather than worry about the things you can’t control.
- Take long casual walks in nature.
- Connect with friends and family via WhatsApp, Facetime or Zoom.
- Take up a hobby that you enjoy. There are also some very good “paint by numbers” kits that help you to relax and calm yourself.
- Create an evening routine to help calm you down before bedtime. This can include a relaxing aromatherapy bath and breathing exercises.
- Take up Yoga which combines stretching, breathing, use of body weight and relaxation. There are plenty of You Tube Videos that you can choose from. I really like all of “Yoga by Adriene”. She has some great compilations.
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep. You can sip herbal teas beforehand to calm you down; I like camomile with vanilla.
- Reduce screen time, especially with social media. Limit your hours, or if your feel your symptoms worsen, then just stop using it. For a while, I completely stopped. You have to make a choice for your health. I found myself making personal calls instead to reconnect with my friends and family via the telephone on a one to one, which really helped.
I hope you find some of the above helpful. I personally do as much as I can and have done so for several years. I can say without a doubt it all helps so much. It is very important that you develop the right balance in life and not give in to a single aspect too much. Please give it a go!