A 2018 Mental Health study has identified that 74% of UK adults have felt so much stress that they have been ‘overwhelmed or unable to cope’. 46% of respondents admitted turning to food when they feel stressed, 29% turn to drink and 15% turn to cigarettes.
From a psychological point of view, 61% of people say they often feel anxious, 51% feel depressed, 37% feel lonely, 32% have suicidal thoughts and, sadly, 16% of all adults have self-harmed.
You are not alone. The majority of people that you come into contact with are suffering the effects of stress, anxiety, depression and all kinds of other psychological troubles. Last month saw Mental Awareness Day on 10 October, which undoubtedly did great things to highlight these issues, but I couldn’t not bring up the topic with BESTFIT readers to offer a helping hand where it may be needed.
Food can affect our mood and a lack of adequate nutrients, essential vitamins, minerals and water can affect the way our brain operates. A healthy diet can go some way to minimising these problems. If you are not sure what constitutes a ‘healthy’ diet then stop buying your lunch from petrol stations and start cooking meals from scratch… that will be a start!
They may make you temporarily feel like they relieve stress, but they don’t. In the long run they are disadvantageous, so where possible try to reduce or eradicate any dependence on cigarettes and alcohol.
Physical activity and exercise are brilliant for reducing stress levels. Maybe a trip to the gym, a game of squash, anything that you enjoy that doesn’t include sitting at your desk. Even if it is just a walk to get some fresh air… but leave the phone behind and give yourself a chance to clear your head.
Don’t fall into the trap of being too busy to take time off. You aren’t so important that you cannot take a day or half-day off now and then. Nothing is SO important that it cannot wait a few hours to be dealt with. Have you heard the analogy of the woodcutter? The harder he worked, the more blunt his saw became and the less effective he was at his job. Stop to sharpen your saw more often.
Your mind and body will tell you when they are not happy – listen to them. ‘No pain, no gain’ is for idiots. Pain or discomfort are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, so listen to it. Don’t be afraid to slow things down and try yoga, or meditation, or just stop doing some of the things that your body doesn’t enjoy.
Spend a couple of hours relaxing in the evening with friends or family, getting into bed by 10pm, ignoring your phone after 8/9pm and maybe reading until you nod off for a good 6-7 hours at least. Ignore your devices and distract yourself with the company of those you love.
Try not to be too hard on yourself. You are going to have bad days, you are going to make mistakes and you are going to get yourself into trouble now and then. Don’t beat yourself up every time this happens – learn from it and move on. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down and give yourself a much-needed pep talk, ensuring to tell yourself how good you are and how much you are appreciated.
If you think you are struggling with any mental health issues, please remember that it is ok to ask for help. In fact, it is imperative. Implementing these tips above is a start but it is just the tip of the iceberg. A problem shared is most definitely a problem halved, so if you aren’t sure which way to turn then chuck me an email
(firstname.lastname@example.org), I have been there, done it and bought the t-shirt. Don’t suffer alone.