It’s never been so crucial to look after your mental health – help is available
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Lockdowns have been tough on us all. It’s OK to admit that, while recognising you’re worried or anxious, bored or lonely. Mental health help is at hand with things you can do to help yourself and support to turn to.
Your mind matters! Taking care of your mental as well as physical health has never been more vital.
“It’s important to remember there is no ‘normal’ response to the pandemic and your feelings might change day to day,” assured Mind mental health charity head of information Stephen Buckley. Here he answers some most commonly asked questions:
Q: What is the difference between being diagnosed with depression and feeling depressed?
A: Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal.
We all have times when our mood is low, and we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass.
Q: What is the difference between feeling anxious and anxiety?
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A: Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive we are under threat. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to.
Q: How can we help ourselves?
A: Bringing nature into your everyday life can be really important. It can help improve your mood, make you feel more relaxed and reduce feelings of stress or anger. Something as simple as taking care of a potted plant or sitting by a window can be beneficial.
Connect with other people – try to make time in your daily routine to check in with friends and family over the phone or via video call.
If you are worried about changing restrictions, talk to someone you trust about how you feel. Consider joining a peer support group. Mind’s Side by Side platform is an online community where you can talk about how you are feeling with people who may have similar experiences.
*Running and walking can help kick off feelings of restlessness, and the ever-changing scenery and outdoor space is also conducive to improved mental health.
*Take up a new hobby such as reading, writing, crosswords, jigsaws, baking, drawing or painting.
*Learn something new at home – there are many free online courses and tutorials available.
*Stay social, even in isolation, by joining virtual book clubs, pub quizzes and music stream events.
How you can access the help you need
There are helplines and websites aplenty to help us all improve our mental health.
Central to such support is NHS site Every Mind Matters, which includes quizzes and tips on how best to maintain good mental health.
If you struggle with feelings of anxiety or depression, consider accessing NHS talking therapy services. Your GP can refer you or you can refer yourself via nhs.uk/talk
If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, find your local 24/7 mental health crisis line at nhs.uk/urgentmentalhealth
Other useful options include:
*Samaritans – 116 123 (open 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
*Saneline – 0300 304 7000 (open 4.30-10.30pm daily)
*Mind.org.uk – visit the website and search ‘information and support’ for specific support lines