2011 was a difficult year for Britain, with widespread financial instability, redundancies, service cuts, mounting debts, fee increases and riots.
Lisa Rodrigues, chief executive of the Sussex Partnership HNS Trust, has recognised that life is tough for everyone, but especially for those suffering hardship.
Rodrigues said: “mental health services can’t make people’s lives easier, but they can help people to cope with what life brings, however hard it may be.”
Her tips for people who want to improve their mental health in these troubling times are as follows:
1. Keep active – exercise really does noticeably change the way you feel by releasing certain feel-good hormones. Not only does it make you happier, it keeps your body looking healthy and working properly. It can also help people suffering from serious mental illnesses such as psychosis.
2. Eat well – research has revealed significant links between eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and protein, with an improvement in mental health. Diet is important – you will notice that if you eat junk food, you feel worse even if you enjoyed it at the time.
3. Sleep well – try to go to bed at a reasonable time, allowing you to have 6-8 hours of sleep at night. Relax before bed – don’t work at the computer, play games, watch TV or drink caffeine before sleeping as these activities act as stimulants and will keep your brain awake.
4. Don’t drink too much – we all enjoy a drink every now and then, but moderation is essential. If you are feeling low, alcohol will act as a depressant and make you feel even worse. Find another way to distract yourself, like immersing yourself in a book or a film.
5. Keep a social life – sometimes it is an effort to socialise when you don’t feel like it. Forcing yourself to get out and keep in touch with family and friends is important and will make you feel better.
6. Talk about it – if you think you might need professional help, don’t be afraid to seek it. Admitting to a problem is the first step towards fighting it. We all feel sad sometimes, but if the feeling won’t go then you may benefit from some external advice or treatment.
7. Go outside – fresh air really is medicine. Going for a walk in the park or by the sea can do wonders for your mind. It will replenish your oxygen supplies, heighten your senses and maybe even take your mind off things.
8. Think of 3 good things – when things are particularly tough and you struggle to find any positive aspects to your life, force yourself to write 3 good things down. This can involve even the smallest achievement or event – from getting out of bed, to someone smiling at you in the street. Reading back at the end of the week will make you realise that not all is bad.
9. Help someone – sometimes all we need is to feel a little compassion. Doing something good for someone not only spreads goodwill, it also makes you feel better. Human beings are social creatures – it makes sense that helping each other makes us happy.
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