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Top Tips for Protecting Mental Health

This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10 October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The past months have brought many challenges: for health-care workers, providing care in difficult circumstances, going to work fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them; for students, adapting to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their futures; for workers whose livelihoods are threatened; and for people with mental health conditions, many experiencing even greater social isolation than before. There are also a huge number of people managing the grief of losing a loved one, sometimes without being able to say goodbye.

The economic consequences of the pandemic are already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses, or indeed shut down completely.

The WHO (World Health Organisation) expects that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years. Investment in mental health programmes at national and international levels, which have suffered from years of chronic underfunding, are now more important than ever.

This is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is to increase investment in mental health.  Read more about the WHO's campaign here.

In support of Mental Health Day, I have put together a few ideas of how you can look after your mental health here...

  • Prioritise sleep – 8-10 hours is essential for wellbeing - if you struggle to get a good night's sleep, read my top tips and access a free audio download here

  • Eat a varied diet to boost gut health which is closely linked to mental health - keeping your blood sugar levels even, helps regulate your mood.

  • Exercise every day - even if it just a walk around the block

  • Make time to relax - it is a powerful antidote to stress and allows the harmful stress hormones to reduce - here's a link to a lovely relaxation audio download that I have made available for free, which will certainly help achieve a feeling of calm

  • Get outside into nature and notice the changes in the season

  • Know your support network

  • Learn to express your feelings through talking, writing, art or music - being creative is actually a profound human need - so have a go - even if it is just doodling with a biro - check out this video which gives you an idea for a type doodling called "Zentangles"

  • Write a list of 20 things you enjoy doing & do at least two every day

  • Limit time spent on screens and especially on social media and gaming - it's so easy to become stuck in a 'screen trance' - use an alarm to limit your time - it will help snap you out of the trance

  • Try not to compare yourself to others – it's generally a no-win activity

  • Give up striving for perfection, it does not exist and you will wear yourself out trying to attain it

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