Wellbeing relates to both our physical and mental state – i.e. our general health, how we are feeling and how we cope with day-to-day life.  Poor physical health can certainly impact on our mental health and vice versa e.g. when our mental health is poor we can develop psychosomatic conditions such as migraine headaches, skin disorders and IBS.  Poor mental health has also been linked to more serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Taking care of our mental wellbeing enables us to:

  • feel more confident in ourselves and have positive self-esteem
  • build and maintain good relationships with others
  • feel engaged with the world around us
  • live and work productively, coping with the stresses of daily life
  • adapt and cope during times of uncertainty and change

Taking the following steps to look after our mental health can help improve our overall wellbeing:

  • Good self care i.e. eating regular meals – healthy nutritious food, exercising regularly (even walking is good), getting plenty of rest and relaxation
  • Being aware of early warning signs of becoming unwell. Keep a diary which reflects your mood and emotions – recognise triggers such as feeling overwhelmed, feeling stressed, a change in eating patterns and habits, not sleeping well. Steps can then be taken to avoid, change or prepare for negative situations and difficult times
  • Be aware of overindulgence/self-medication e.g. sometimes food, sex, gambling, over spending and drink/drugs make us feel better in the short term but can make the physical and emotional feelings worse when the short term ‘fix’ wears off.  Drugs and alcohol are depressants themselves and as well as worsening the depression they reduce inhibitions which can result in doing or saying things that we regret later
  • Dwelling on the past or negative experiences are unproductive – the past cannot be changed but we can focus on positive possibilities for the future
  • Take time for yourself – do things which you enjoy – even simple things like treating yourself to a special meal, watching favorite TV box sets, a  long bubble bath and pamper evening – all these can relieve stress and uplift the way we feel
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation – use breathing techniques to slow your breathing down and through mindfulness – pay attention to a particular activity such as washing up or gardening.  Notice and acknowledge the experience – i.e. what things look like e.g the colours of the bubbles or plants, the smell of the washing up liquid or scent of the flowers, the sounds of the bubbles or the nature around. Mindfulness can simply be noticing what we don’t normally notice, because our heads are too busy in the future or in the past – worrying about what we need to do, or going over what we have done
  • Talk about how you feel – sharing feelings and being listened to help.  Tell family and friends how they can support you best, speak to your GP or local mental health services.  Join a support or social group, perhaps volunteer at a local cause – this can help boost our self-esteem and help us re-connect with our community

Useful resources:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/improve-mental-wellbeing.aspx

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/wellbeing/#.WFPojmZvgv0

http://www.mentalhealthinbradford.nhs.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/branches/bradford-samaritans