Tips for Good Mental Health

The Mental Health Social Worker pointed me to a campaign being run in the US by Mental Health America to ‘equip people with tools to deal with stressful times’.

The campaign is called ‘Live your Life Well’ and has a nicely designed webpage with some surveys, tips and ‘success stories’.

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I took the ‘stress screener’ myself and came out it told me ‘I could be doing better’. I guess no surprises there because I do have a fair bit going on at the moment!

They explain that

The Live Your Life WellSM program details the 10 tools and many of their benefits, including:

  • Connect with Others. Research suggests that people who feel connected are happier and healthier – and may even live longer.
  • Stay Positive. People who regularly focus on the positive in their lives are less upset by painful memories.
  • Get Physically Active. Exercise relieves tense muscles, improves mood and sleep, and increases energy and strength.
  • Help Others. Research suggests that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm and fewer pains.
  • Get Enough Rest. People who don’t get enough sleep face a number of possible health risks, including weight gain, decreased memory, impaired driving and heart problems.
  • Create Joy and Satisfaction. Positive emotions can boost a person’s ability to bounce back from stress.
  • Eat Well. Eating healthy food and regular meals can increase energy, lower the risk of developing certain diseases and influence mood.
  • Take Care of Your Spirit. People who have strong spiritual lives may be healthier and live longer. Spirituality seems to cut the stress that can contribute to disease.
  • Deal Better with Hard Times. People who get support, problem-solve or focus on the positives in their lives are likely to handle tough times better.
  • Get Professional Help if You Need It. If the problems in life are stopping a person from functioning well or feeling good, professional help can make a big difference.
  • The site goes through each of these points and explains some pretty substantial and extensive tips so it’s well worth going to the site and having a nose around!

Five a day

We are advised to eat five portions of fruit and/or vegetables a day to keep healthy. Good sound advice.

image mjorge at Flickr

The Times reports today on a different kind of five-a-day target that relates more specifically to mental health.

The advised steps to happiness are:

Connect
Developing relationships with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours will enrich your life and bring you support

Be active
Sports, hobbies such as gardening or dancing, or just a daily stroll will make you feel good and maintain mobility and fitness

Be curious
Noting the beauty of everyday moments as well as the unusual and reflecting on them helps you to appreciate what matters to you

Learn
Fixing a bike, learning an instrument, cooking – the challenge and satisfaction brings fun and confidence

Give
Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to a wider community and is very rewarding

So there you go, some thoughts for an early new years resolution or two perhaps. They all seem fairly sensible to me as long as we can count virtual as well as ‘real’ connections!

One other pertinent fact came out of this research and is quoted in the article – namely

Half of people in Britain who are in debt have a mental disorder, compared with just 16 per cent of the general population.

That’s an enormous amount of people. It might be a thought for another day to consider the ways and means that these two factors influence each other, but that’s possibly too much for me to take on on a Saturday morning.

But a salutary thought as we move towards a recession.

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World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day with a focus on promoting positive mental  health.

Wellbeing in the East of England (perhaps not the catchiest of monikers.. ) have produced a series of short films that have been put out on television in.. yes, you guessed it, the east of England! I haven’t caught them but they are available on the website.

They also link to the Mental Health Foundation‘s list of ways to look after your mental health. There are some real gems there so it’s worth having a look through.

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The World Federation of Mental Health is focusing on Advocacy or rather, the catchy slogan ‘Making Mental Health a Global Priority – Scaling Up Services Through Citizen Advocacy and Action’ An excellent endeavour and certainly one which it worthy of support. They have published a useful booklet (pdf) which explores Mental Health issues from a global perspective as well as lots of information about advocacy and self-advocacy.

Rethink have a quiz so you can see what they would advise you to do to promote your own mental well-being (I was told to do more exercise.. !).

And on that note, MIND are having a Walk for Mental Health from Brixton to  Battersea Park today. Shame I’m going to be at work really.. for many reasons! It is actually a part of a general campaign to improve physical fitness and exercise levels in order to promote mental health.

There are lots of more local events planned throughout the UK, including an exhibition at the Institute of Psychiatry which is called Music and the Mind which carries through until 10 December and certainly seems to be worth a visit.

But whatever it is you choose to do to make the day – stay well!