It's no secret that the past year has been a struggle for many - we're dealing with grief, anxiety and loneliness on a worldwide scale. When things are completely out of our control, we feel helpless and scared. That's why we are launching our campaign #PromiseToTalk - to encourage you to be open and honest about mental health with your peers.
As the old saying goes: "A problem shared is a problem halved". Not only is sharing a way to lift some weight off your shoulders, but it also helps to end the stigma against mental health by normalising it. Speaking to other people can also help give you perspective, or at least feel like someone understands you.
We want to share some of our most important tips for positive mental health and we encourage you to do the same in the comments!
1. Talk It Out
Talking doesn't have to just be with a friend, family member or a partner - you can also talk to professionals about your woes. Getting access to therapy can be difficult and sometimes not affordable, however your GP may be able to refer you to a counsellor or group therapy session. There are also many private counsellors and therapists offering concessions and discounts, especially now as many sessions have to take place online.
You can also make use of free phonelines like Samaritans, who you can call any time to talk about how you feel, and they can also help you to find resources that may be useful.
2. Write it Down
When we start catastrophising and feeling down, sometimes our thoughts can get in a jumble. That's why it's great to write things down to help you gain perspective on the situation. Sometimes we feel like we have thousands of issues, but often these are symptoms of one issue we have and therefore it becomes much more manageable.
There are also many different writing exercises you can try, such as:
- A Worry Diary - write down your worries when they come into your head
- Daily Gratitude Lists - write down 10 things you are grateful for to help you think more positively
- Automatic Writing - set a timer for 10 minutes, and write whatever pops into your head, then stop and read it back another time
- Thought Record sheets - you can download these from the Internet and fill these in. There are many different examples and some may be more suited to your needs, and they will ask you to think critically about your thoughts and mental state.
And if you're not much of a writer, you can always record yourself speaking instead!
3. Practise Self-Care
Self-care can mean a lot of different things to different people, so this one is really up to your own interpretation!
Sometimes, it's something as simple as taking a bath or watching your favourite movie. Other times, it can be splashing out on a treat for yourself, or giving yourself a work break. Even when times are especially tough, taking 5 minutes to wash your face, do a quick mindfullness exercise or taking in some fresh air when you take out the bins - it all helps! It can be taking steps to help your mental health, like making an appointment or texting a friend.
Practising self-care is really about working out what is best for you and your situation.
4. See Your Doctor
As stated above, you can get referred for mental health help via your GP, however they can also help you in other ways. Mental health can be triggered by physical changes in our body, illness, hormones, chemical imbalances and more. It's important to make you aren't ignoring signs of another issue.
Your doctor may advise you to take antidepressants or other medication - and don't be intimidated by this! Medication has a negative stigma, but it helps many. It may take some trial and error, and it is still your decision whether you want to try medication or not.
... and most of all, #PromiseToTalk
We encourage everyone to speak openly about their worries and not suffer alone. #PromiseToTalk also includes promising to check in with your friends and family who may be quietly suffering from mental health issues.