What is World Mental Health Day?
World Mental Health Day is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.
World Mental Health Day is also a chance to talk about mental health in general, how we need to look after it, and how important it is to talk about things and get help if you are struggling.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, with an estimated 3.8% of the population affected, including 5.0% among adults and 5.7% among adults older than 60 years. Approximately 280 million people in the world have depression. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when recurrent and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Over 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
During these extremely worrying times, many people will be having a black cloud following them around. The TV brings nothing but bad news – The War in Ukraine, possible winter blackouts, food prices keep rising along with gas and electric throwing people into poverty and 1 in 4 families will not be celebrating Christmas this year.
The future must appear extremely grim for millions of adults and children.
I’m not a doctor or psychologist but here to offer tops to a better mental wellbeing.
If you are feeling in despair here’s some things that may help lift your mood.
Small Things Can Make A Big Difference To Your Mental Health. Be Kind to Your Mind.
What can I do to improve my mental wellbeing?
Relax and reduce stress.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
In this relaxation technique, you focus on slowly tensing and then relaxing each muscle group.
This can help you focus on the difference between muscle tension and relaxation. You can become more aware of physical sensations.
In one method of progressive muscle relaxation, you start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head. This is best done in a quiet area without interruptions. You can also start with your head and neck and work down to your toes. Tense your muscles for about five seconds and then relax for 30 seconds, and repeat.
In this relaxation technique, you may form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation.
To relax using visualization, try to include as many senses as you can, such as smell, sight, sound and touch. If you imagine relaxing at the ocean, for instance, think about the smell of salt water, the sound of crashing waves and the warmth of the sun on your body.
You may want to close your eyes, sit in a quiet spot, loosen any tight clothing, and focus on your breathing. Aim to focus on the present and think positive thoughts.
- Music and art therapy
Some thoughts and feelings are difficult to put into words. Art and Music Therapy can help you express yourself in new ways rather than the emphasis being on words alone. All kinds of art materials or music can be used to fire up a creative process and allow you to express feelings, memories and experiences in new ways, as well as help with anxiety, depression or grief. It can be an invaluable opportunity to explore what matters most to you, on your own terms.
- Spend time in nature.
There are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health and wellbeing. From gaining a sense of peace and a boost to our self-esteem, to improved concentration and the psychological restoration. Research is happening all the time that adds to our understanding of how our natural environment affects the health of our bodies and minds. The reasons why time in nature has this effect on us are complex and still being understood. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, from the shapes in nature we see to the scents that trees give off and the soft fascination that nature can stimulate which helps our minds rest.
- Connect with others.
Evidence shows that connecting with others and forming good relationships – with family, friends and the wider community – are important for mental wellbeing. Building stronger, broader social connections in your life can increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth.
- Look after your physical health.
Physical activity is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as improving your mental wellbeing. Research shows that doing exercise releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain. Even a short burst of 10 minutes brisk walking can improve your mental alertness, energy and mood.
- Try to get enough sleep.
Sufficient sleep, especially REM sleep, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. During sleep, the brain works to evaluate and remember thoughts and memories, and it appears that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content.
- Mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation involves sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing or parts of the body, bringing your attention back whenever the mind starts to wander. Meditation can be hard to master, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it can be great for the brain and stress relief. It is suggested that meditating for 10 – 12 minutes a day can be beneficial for those suffering from depression.
- Set Goals.
Write down a set of goals you’d like to achieve, whether short or long-term, and work towards them. Making small goals such as trying out a new recipe or trying an exercise class can help you to feel more positive about yourself.
- Talking may change the way you feel about a situation
It’ll make you feel safer and less alone, and that will help protect your mental health and prevent problems.
Talking may also change how you see and feel about the situation in ways you find helpful.
Another possible benefit is that talking may strengthen your relationship with the person you speak with. This will benefit both of you and make it easier for them to turn to you when they need support themselves.
- Do something kind
Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. An act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism. They may also encourage others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community.
- Be kind to yourself
If a friend was upset, you wouldn’t want them to beat themselves up over it. You may have advice that you know they find helpful – or sometimes all they need is a hug.
The same applies when you are upset. You may feel you are judging your emotions, leading to you piling up more difficult feelings. Or you may just feel sad. Perhaps you want comfort, and don’t really know where to find it or how to ask for it. Sometimes it might be hard to know what you need!
You could try treating yourself differently, offering kindness to yourself. This could be in the form of calmly ‘telling’ yourself or your difficult thoughts a kind thing. You could pick out something you’re proud of, and remind yourself of it, or you could say something nice to yourself that you know others often say to you.
It’s important to try not to argue with your negative inner voice – this might make it worse. Instead, you could gently repeat an affirmation, either out loud or in your head. This could be something like ‘let whatever you do today be enough’, or ‘I don’t have to change myself’. Whatever works for you, whether it’s simple or complex.
- Remember to breathe
One of the most powerful self-care techniques is engaging in breathing exercises. Often referred to as “mindful breathing,” maintaining focus on one’s breath, even for just one minute, can help to alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. By forcing awareness of our breathing, we direct our brains to focus on something consistent and steady rather than anxious thoughts or feelings we may be having.
Get in a comfortable position either sitting or lying down. Place one hand on your belly, just below your ribs, and your other hand on your chest.
Breathe in deeply through your nose, expanding your belly. You should let your belly push your hand out, and your chest should not move.
Breathe out with your lips pursed like you are whistling. Use the hand on your belly to gently push all of the air out.
You can repeat as desired, making sure to take your time with each breath.
- Cut back on social media
Constantly consuming information about other people’s lives may cause someone to compare themselves and promote feelings of low self-worth, which increases feelings of anxiety and depression.
- Know when to take it easy
On difficult days, you might find it tough to do any of the above, which might make you feel even worse.
- Make time for rest
While what constitutes “rest” may vary from person to person, it generally means giving your mind and body the opportunity to unwind and restore. (See Mindfulness)
- Listen to music
Research shows that music can have a beneficial effect on brain chemicals such as dopamine, which is linked to feelings of pleasure, and oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.” And there is moderate evidence that music can help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Quit smoking
When people stop smoking, studies show: anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower. Quality of life and positive mood improve. The dosage of some medicines used to treat mental health problems can be reduced.
- Phone a friend
Friends prevent isolation and loneliness and give you a chance to offer needed companionship, too. Friends can also: Increase your sense of belonging and purpose. Boost your happiness and reduce your stress.
- Ask for help
Talk to your primary care doctor or another health professional about mental health problems. Ask them to connect you with the right mental health services. If you do not have a health professional who is able to assist you, use these resources to find help for yourself, your friends, your family, or your students.
These are just a few things you can do for yourself. Below are some further links you may find helpful;