World Mental Health Day is happening this Sunday 10 October and to mark the day, we’ve been talking with Nia Evans, Children and Young People Manager at Mind Cymru about the work Mind Cymru are doing, and to share some advice on how to improve your mental wellbeing and who to talk to if you need support.
Each year, World Mental Health Day encourages people around the world to raise awareness of mental health issues and highlight the support available to those who might be struggling. This year’s theme is inequality and Mind Cymru is working hard to make the world a better place for all.
While the last year has been difficult for everyone, it’s been particularly tough on young people, with research from Mind Cymru finding that more than two thirds (68%) of young people feel their mental health have got worse following the national lockdown as they’ve faced disruptions to their usual routines, activities, and opportunities.
As we begin to emerge out of the pandemic and gradually return to new norms, Nia says that since the first national lockdown began in March 2020, it’s understandable that the disruption to your own usual routines, activities, services and opportunities could be having a significant impact on your mental health and wellbeing. It’s therefore normal that you might be feeling stressed or anxious but there are things you can do to help support and maintain a healthy mindset.
So, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to help your mental health and improve your emotional wellbeing, here are Nia’s top tips:
1. Stay active and healthy
First things first, it’s important you take care of your physical health by eating well, getting enough sleep, and staying active. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can improve your mood and self-confidence, increase your energy, and help you sleep better – all of which are important for good mental health and to help recover from mental exertion. When you look after your body, your mind follows in suit. Try going for walks or consider doing some indoor activities like dancing, online workouts, or yoga.
If you’re still struggling to sleep, a few things you can try before going to bed are:
- Staying away from digital devices including your phone for an hour before bed
- Having a cup of lavender or chamomile tea
- Listening to a podcast or soothing music
2. Keep Connected
The biggest mental health struggle that young people encountered during lockdown was loneliness, with nearly nine in ten saying that feeling isolated made their mental health worse. Relationships and social interaction are important for our wellbeing, and now that we are no longer in lockdown, and are returning to normal, it’s important to spend time with the people you care about.
Seeing people face to face is a great way to boost your mood and can help you feel better. If you can’t meet in person, call, WhatsApp or Zoom – whatever suites you. Equally, you may notice that someone around you is feeling low, so you could send them a text or a small gift to let them know you’re thinking of them. This can open up a conversation that will benefit you both.
3. Give to others
Helping others can make us feel happier, give us a sense of achievement, increase our self-worth, and boost our relationships.
You could offer a neighbour or stranger help if you see they need it. Maybe you could volunteer your time or skills somewhere? Or you could ask a friend how they are and really take the time to truly listen to them.
4. Learn new skills
From trying your hand at knitting, baking, or drawing to learning how to play an instrument or taking on a photography course, doing something creative can help enhance your self-esteem and feel less stressed while enabling you to express yourself.
Why not give a new book a go, try creative writing, or complete a crossword or sudoku? Unleash your curious nature by delving into something you’ve always wondered about, or sign up to learn the language of your next holiday destination? There are plenty of skills to keep your mind busy and healthy! If something helps you feel good, make time to do it.
5. Practice self-care
Self-care is a great way of understanding and managing your thoughts and feelings, even when you’re in the middle of feeling confused or anxious.
The following activities are great acts of self-care to incorporate into your everyday routine before school, college, or work:
- Write down your thoughts and feelings, alongside what you’re grateful for.
- Meditate by focusing on something, maybe a particular object or your breath, and zone out of the world.
- Move your body by taking up a slow-paced form of exercise like tai chi, pilates or yoga.
6. Reach Out
It can be difficult to talk about your mental health, but it’s important to open up about how you’re feeling. Talking to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member, can help you feel supported and like you’re not alone. Getting things off your chest can also help prevent negative feelings and anxiety from building up and getting worse, and gives the person you’re talking to the chance to help you.
You might find others who have experienced similar things and understand what you are going through.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you don’t feel like you can talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling, it could help to try talking to a teacher, doctor, or an organisation trained to listen and support you. There are plenty of resources available, such as Mind Cymru, Childline, Meic Cymru, or The Mix, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You are not alone.
For more help and advice, take a look at the resources linked below from Mind Cymru:
- Coronavirus and your mental health
- Young people and coronavirus
- Tips for Everyday Living
- Tips for tackling loneliness
- Helping someone else
Nia says, “Mind Cymru is committed to fight for mental health and the call for greater urgency in addressing the issues young people are facing. We will continue to work with and for our Youth Voice Network, representing young people from across Wales, to make sure that mental health is afforded the priority is deserves and available to help anyone in need. Mind Cymru is here to help and we encourage you to reach out for advice and help.”
#worldmentalhealthday #mentalhealth #wellbeing #MindCymru