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With all that 2020 has thrown at us so far, today’s World Mental Health Day theme of ‘mental health for all’ is a timely reminder of what we need to do to support ourselves if we are struggling. Most of us recognize the importance of food and exercise but fewer recognize what we need to do to keep ourselves emotionally and mentally fit and well. What we do differs for us all but there are some common issues that have become much more obvious during the Covid 19 lockdown. Anxiety, social isolation, loneliness and worry have emerged as key mental health themes over this time, so how can we help ourselves? Having a good routine supports us during times of change and difficulty. Eating well, sleeping well and exercising support each other and in turn support our physical and mental health. Why not revisit our tips for being kind to yourself during lockdown; they are still relevant now.

Anxiety and worry can be challenging as it’s easy to get into a downward spiral with both of these. So, it’s important that you start to notice when/if you are feeling anxious or worried about something. Then it’s useful to take a moment as ask yourself ‘what am I anxious about?’ Or ‘what am I worrying about now”? Then ask yourself, ‘do I need to be worried / anxious about this now?’ ‘Is there something I need to do about this now?’ For example, are you are worrying about mounting debt? If so, rather than focusing on the worry, ask yourself if you need help to deal with it? If the answer is yes, then what action can you take? Is there specialist support locally to help you? If debt is a problem for you at the moment, please phone or text Positive Minds on one of the numbers below.

If you’re feeling anxious or worried and you don’t know why, acknowledging the feelings and then finding yourself an activity or distraction that helps you feel good, is a helpful way of dealing with it. Going out for a walk or doing some exercise is one option, as it offers a change of scenery and gets you moving. Some people find cleaning or ironing calming or watching your favourite TV programme. Putting on music and dancing round the house or phoning a friend for a catch up, are also good ways of distracting yourself. The most important thing is that you start to work out what helps you feel better. Going for a cycle and seeing the autumnal colours or making bread, reading a book or tidying up, make me feel better.

Finally, social isolation and loneliness. With restrictions in place on the number of people that can meet up, activities or groups that you might normally be part of have not restarted since lockdown and it is harder to get out and about. Because of this, it is really important that we look after ourselves, look out for others and be creative in how we have social contact. The world of online groups, activities and courses has really opened up for those who have access to the internet and enjoy the ‘virtual’ world. We can still meet up outside remember, so why not go for a walk and catch up with friends. Even if it is colder now, you can wrap up, take a flask of tea and enjoy the local nature-filled green areas. Not sure where to walk? Give Judy a ring and she can give you some walking routes. You may not want to go out with someone but may just miss going out and having people around – remember that the Gatehouse Café is open for food and drink. You could meet someone in there or sit on your own but have different people around you. They have good social distance measures in place. If nothing else, saying hello to neighbours, smiling or saying hello to people in the street makes a difference and makes us all feel more of a community rather than isolated individuals.

The important message today is that even in these challenging times we can do things to help ourselves and help others. The mental health charity Mind are suggesting that …. “whether it’s going for a walk, learning a new skill or doing something creative, taking the first steps to getting support for yourself, or reaching out to someone else; take the opportunity to do one thing this World Mental Health Day ….” And we would encourage you to keep doing one thing that is good for your mental health each and every day.

If you need help with any of the suggestions here or need guidance on how to access support around finances, debt or social isolation, get in touch and we will do what can to help – phone our landline on 0117 964 46 70 or Helen on 0788 066 1239 or Judy on 0737 831 0079.