Wednesday October 10th is World Mental Health day, where we have an opportunity to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of staying balanced and well both mentally and physically.
Mental ill health is a global problem. It is not only about obvious conditions such as depression, bi-polar and obsessive compulsive disorders, which are all on the increase, but also their milder cousins, stress, fatigue and anxiety. The shocking statistics show that mental illness is on the rise.
- One in two of us is likely to suffer from some form of mental health issue in our lifetime.
- Young women (16 – 25) are three times more likely than their male counterpart to experience an issue such as self-harm, bi-polar or post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).
- Stress is seen as the biggest factor in almost all diseases.
- Depression is the number one mental health problem in the world, followed closely Anxiety.
This interesting diagram from the Mental Health Foundation in London talks about all of the areas in our life where we might experience issues.
Work can be a major contribution to our wellbeing or lack of it, so it’s important to develop positive habits to bring ourselves back into balance when things get tough.
The most important thing to remember in managing stress, anxiety or even something as simple as having a bad day, is that we can always choose our response to it. Much of our unease comes from a feeling of being overwhelmed or feeling out of control, but there are many ways we can get that back in the balance. The first and most important is remembering that we can at any time ask ourselves ‘Do I choose this response, or is there something else I could choose instead?’
Here are some tip tips:
- Start your day as you mean to go on. Take 2 – 3 minutes before you leave for work to just think about the day ahead and inject some good energy into it. I know that can be difficult when you are rushing and have kids to get to school or what have you, but even taken a few more moments whilst you are at the mirror brushing your teeth can make a big difference. Ask yourself questions like ‘How can I make this the best day ever?’ ‘What do I choose to bring to this day?’. Then just stand in the mirror deeply breathing for a minute or so whilst the questions soak deep into your psyche and work their magic.
- End the day well. Get a little notebook and at the end of your day write in 10 things that you enjoyed or went well for you that day. It might be simple things like there wasn’t much traffic on the way to work, or I had a great lunch, or a meeting went better than expected. It is the act of noticing what goes well which helps us to feel better about our day and about ourselves.
- Connect with your breath. Our breath is the one constant in our life, which we often completely overlook it. Yet the simple act of noticing our breath, particularly at times of stress or overwhelm can help us to feel a lot better. Whenever you are going through a difficult period, or feeling stressed, taking a few moments at your desk, or in the bathroom to just breathe deeply. Try breathing in for 3 seconds, holding for 4 and then breathing out for 5 seconds. Do the 3-4-5 sequence at least three times whilst telling yourself ‘all is well’. I guarantee you will feel better after it.
Do you have or know someone who has mental health challenges? Do share these tips, or let me know of any tips you have found helpful.
Wishing you all a mindful and happy World Mental Health Day.