Mental health – a timely reminder
With the darker evenings and shorter days now upon us and will remain with us for a good while yet it seems to be a good time to remind ourselves of the importance of looking after our mental health. Our first lockdown, whilst not an easy period, did take place start in the later stages of spring, going into the wonderful warmth and sunshine of summer.
We have now completed our second week of another four-week lockdown in England and we could be faced with a long, hard winter where we may be worrying about coping when the dark icy days descend.
Our fear about Covid; about catching or transmitting the virus, the implications it may have on family members and all the emotional issues it presents are real as we are again forced to spend time apart from our loved ones.
Before the 2nd lockdown started many of us would have been preparing and planning for the two most celebrated holiday periods, Christmas, and New Year. Looking forward to gathering with family and friends. At this time, we have no idea what if any the restrictions may be. Those of us who are forward planners may now be finding this time extremely stressful, whilst others may enjoy the thought of a quieter celebration at home.
Winter will be especially important for us to be proactive to protect our own mental wellness by taking steps to find opportunities to connect with others, stay active, take advantage of the sunlight (even if we have to wrap up against the cold) and get creative in how we celebrate.
The most fundamental thing that everyone of use could do to prepare would be to focus on three main things, on a daily basis. If we all take really good care of these three areas in our lives, then our thresholds for depression, anxiety and burnout can be raised much higher and give you more resilience through any difficult times to come.
- Get enough good quality sleep, every night – sleep has a huge impact on our mood and our daily ability to cope. Think to when you last had a poor or ‘short’ night’s sleep and remember how hare it was to get through your day.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. Regular exercise has a powerfully protective and boosting effect on our mood. Many of us are vulnerable to low moods, anxiety, stress or burnout, and exercise should be our best friend. Get moving every day. Bundle up and get outside or if this is not achievable then find different ways to exercise indoors.
- Eat foods that protect your mood. What we eat and drink affects how we feel and think. Less junk foods and sugary foods and more vegetables and healthy cooked meals will give us so much more energy and we will see an improvement to our moods and overall wellbeing. Alcohol also impacts on our moods. The European World Health Organisation has issued a recommendation for people to limit alcohol during Covid, for mental health reasons. Let’s all be aware of our need to treat alcohol carefully if we are vulnerable to mental health ups and downs.
Remember our Mental Health First Aiders are here for you along with all the management team. Please do not suffer in silence. Kindness comes in many forms. We are in this together.