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Looking after your Mental Health

Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being, affecting how we act, how we think and how we feel. It also helps to determine how we handle stress, relate to other people and make choices.

I’ll admit that I am the absolute worst at opening up and talking about my feelings – I’m really good at helping other people, I love being an ear for someone else to open up to, I like to try and help other people. But you know, if I’m suggesting people look after their mental health, then I should be honest about mine.

I spent a very long time not liking myself:

- as a teen I had bad skin, was overweight (according to the school nurse when I was 13 – that stuck with me) I was shy, unassuming, very middle-of-the-road, forgettable - in fact even now I still consider myself entirely forgettable.

- a lot of my early 20s I remember spending in crappy relationships – pretty unpleasant actually, but you know, I was well aware that there were plenty of people a lot worse off than I was so I never felt I was entitled to feel as angry and upset as I did.

- after having the boy, I let myself go completely, sank into what I now acknowledge as being a form of post-natal-depression, but you know, I didn’t want to go and bother a Dr with how I was feeling because I was so lucky to have had the boy, to be able to be at home and spend all of my time with him, how dare I go and say I wasn’t happy? I was fully aware that there are 1,000s of people who would have given anything to be in my position.

There isn’t a single person this year whose mental health hasn’t been in some way, shape or form been affected by Coronavirus and all that the pandemic has brought with it, let alone anything and everything else going on.

So how do you deal with your mental health? What can you do to help it?

TALK – talk about your feelings, get things off your chest, say what you mean, it’s like a weight is lifted off your shoulders.

KEEP ACTIVE – by moving and exercising you release endorphins into your body that make you feel good. Being active is a great way of clearing your mind, it helps you sleep better too!

EAT WELL – nourish your body with good food, cut out the crap and you will be amazed how quickly you start to feel better. As an ex-sugar-addict I can vouch for this. You don’t need to deprive yourself, but eat better and your body will function better. When I cut the excessive amounts of sugar out of my diet my anxiety decreased rapidly as my resting heart rate lowered.

DRINK SENSIBLY – it’s a crutch for a lot of people, but in the long run it isn’t doing you any favours.

KEEP IN TOUCH – we are all busy, we have friends here, there and everywhere, but how much time do you really get to see them properly? Checking in with friends every few days reminds you all that you’re there for one another.

ASK FOR HELP – whether it is friends, family, or professional services; there is no harm in admitting you aren’t superhuman, nobody is. Help is out there; you just have to be brave and ask for it.

HAVE A BREAK – a change of scene does wonders – even if it’s just getting up and out in a day instead of staring at the same 4 walls. Get up, go and see something different.

DO SOMETHING YOU ARE GOOD AT – this is a brilliant confidence booster if you’re feeling low and rubbish about yourself because by doing something you are good at, you get a sense of achievement and that then makes you feel better about yourself, puts a smile on your face.

ACCEPTANCE – accept who you are. You’re you and you’re brilliant. Push yourself, learn new things, challenge yourself, we are all different and that should be celebrated – stop trying to be like everyone else.

LOOK AFTER OTHERS – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. If you’re there for other people, by return they will be there for you. It’s a two-way street and keeps people you love closer to you.

Acknowledging your feelings is so important, yet sometimes it's really hard to talk about them, even with close friends. So this is also a post to let you know that my inbox is open, if you have something to get off your chest, if you're feeling crap about yourself and want some advice then drop me a line because I know how that feels, I really do and if I can help in any way I'd like to do that. x

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