With the difficulties this year has brought us, taking care of your mental health has never been more important.
World Mental Health Day is an international day to raise awareness, educate, and share advocacy against the stigma that surrounds mental health.
According to research by Mind charity, more than half of adults said their mental health got worse during lockdown. We spoke to Aaron, our Wellbeing & Inclusion Development Business Partner about the things you can do to take a step towards better mental health.
"Our mental health encompasses psychological, emotional and social wellbeing and therefore impacts our thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
"Good mental health will help you build an inner strength that can help you to cope with any problems or challenges life may throw at you.
"Being emotionally healthy will promote productivity and effectiveness of work and home life, it can play an important role in maintaining relationships both professionally and socially and it will make you more ready to accept and adapt to change."
Wellbeing in later life: My top tips
Research shows that 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 in care homes experience some form of depression or poor mental health. The 5 key themes that can impact mental health in later life are discrimination, participation, relationships, physical health and poverty or financial concerns.
The following can help to build and promote good mental health.
Have a sense of purpose
Moving into a care home from your own home or recently retiring from work can be a big shift in people’s lives, particularly when it comes to finding a sense of purpose. We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning, just now in later life there may need to change in motivation and purpose. It’s not always easy to just pick a new hobby or interest, spending a bit of time thinking about what skills you do possess and how they could be best utilised to bring not only fulfilment to yourself but others.
Talk about problems or concerns
Like the old adage goes, 'a problem shared is a problem halved'. Talking about worries or concerns however big or small they may be can make those worries easier to manage. Sharing with others will also help you to rationalise your thoughts and make sense of what you are feeling or going through, it will also make you feel supported and not alone. Say what you feel, don’t be embarrassed by what you may be going though, it is not a sign of weakness. You may find others begin to open up too as they have similar worries or concerns.
Ask for help
Each and every single one of us will have times when we can offer help and times where we should be reaching out for help. It is in these times when we need to either be friend or need to have a friend.
There are probably more people out there willing to help you than you realise, but not every person will be suitable to help with every issue. You may feel hesitant to reach out, but remember how it makes you feel when you when someone reaches out to you for help. Many people really welcome the opportunity to help and quite often it’s relieving to know that we all need a little hand from time to time.
Keeping yourself as active as possible is really important for your wellbeing. You don’t need to a marathon runner or an elite athlete, very simple activities that raise your heart rate for around 20 minutes a day will not only benefit you physically but the endorphins and feel good hormones your body releases during exercise will help to keep your mental health good. Keeping your brain active is just as important as keeping your body active, solving puzzles, getting creative or reading can help to keep the mind healthy and stave off feelings of anxiety and depression.
Light activities might include; getting up to make a cup of tea, moving around your home, walking at a slow pace, cleaning and dusting, making the bed and standing up.
Moderate activities may include; brisk walking, water aerobics, using a foot pedal bike, dancing, table games, pushing a lawn mower and hiking.
Activities to keeping the mind active include; drawing and painting, creative writing such as poetry, bingo, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, word searches, chess and strategy games, reading and card games.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating healthily will have huge benefits not only to your physical health but also your mental health and general all round wellbeing. The stomach and brain are very closely linked with hormones and signals flowing both ways into each other, therefore a healthy body can really lead to a healthy mind.
Do what you enjoy
If you can keep doing the things that bring you joy, then keep doing them. Doing things that we enjoy bring us pleasure in life and make us feel good about ourselves, and helps to keep us physically and mentally active. Hobbies, pasttimes and leisure pursuits give us chances to socialise with others, make new connections and also gives us a bit of timeout for ourselves.
Relax and take a break
Find what’s right for you, for some relaxing and taking a break may mean a bit of time alone to yourself, for others that mean being stimulated by the company of others. It is really good to have structure and routine to your day but don’t forget to factor in breaks or ‘me time’ for yourself, it may just be a 10 minute chat with a friend over a cuppa. Whether your particular choice of relaxing is passive or active, it will help your mental batteries to recharge and keep you feeling well.
Did you know we're a charity?
It is our aim to enrich the lives of older people and alleviate any loneliness they may be experiencing. You can find information, advice and support on the causes of loneliness and potential associated health problems here.
Experiencing feelings of loneliness can be incredibly isolating, and often it is difficult to know where to turn. We've collated a list of fantastic organisations and charities that offer different ways to help.
If you'd like to support us to alleviate loneliness and and help enrich the lives of older people, you can by making a donation. Thank you for your support.
Join the conversation
Join the conversation on World Mental Health Day using #WorldMentalHealthDay and #WorldMentalHealthDay2020.