Mental Health Tips

Looking after your mental health: 

In times like these, our mental health can suffer.  We don’t always know it’s happening.  You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless or sad.  You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or want to completely avoid any reminders of what is happening.  For those of us who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.

If you are struggling, here are some things you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty: 

Exercise. 

Get into the fresh air even if you don’t feel like it, whilst avoiding contact with others.  Brisk walking  will raise your pulse and refresh the blood supply to your brain which will improve your mood.

Stay hydrated and eat regular meals. 

Low blood sugar and dehydration can make us feel more anxious.  Small regular snacks can help.  Make an extra drink for someone you live with.

Breathe.

 If you start to feel anxious, take three slow deep breaths.  Try breathing out slowly on a count of five.  You might like to try these breathing exercises shared by Brighton Yoga Teacher Rachael Chung.

Relaxation.

  is a simple way to reduce anxiety.  Regular daily practice, even just 5 minutes  makes the biggest difference.  As you body learns to recognise the difference between tight and relaxed muscles,  you will become be more aware of those moments of when you are tensing up.  Stopping, breathing and releasing can become second nature.

We recommend progressive muscle relaxation.  This simple technique involves tensing and releasing the various muscle groups in your body.  The NHS have resources online.  Try: Female Voice Muscle Relaxation. or Male Voice Muscle Relaxation

You might like to try yoga in the comfort of your home. Brighton Yoga Teacher Peter Blackaby has shared this 30 minute yoga lesson suitable for beginners.

Keep in touch.

  call someone you feel close to at least once a day.  We all need contact with others to stay well.  Reach out to people you enjoy and can be open with.  We are all much happier when we Humans are social and even a informal chat makes us less anxious.   Instead of social distancing, try distant socializing  – make use of remote technologies to keep in touch with others.  See this link on distant socializing.

Manage conflict.

 If you are getting triggered by those close to you,  try giving yourself some space – take some time out with headphones or finding a quiet place.

Catch up regularly with those you live with.  

Make a regular time to meet and catch up : talk over food or set aside a daily or weekly time.   Try taking 2 minutes each to let everyone know how you are getting on.  It can be surprising how little you can know about those who you live with and how they are actually experiencing day to day life under lock-down.   Saying how you are and being heard can be very helpful.  If you start a regular catch up meeting now, you will be better able to manage conflicts  if they do arise as you will be used to talking in this more structured way.

Do things you enjoy. 

Use the opportunity to rediscover old hobbies,  card games,  board games, dancing to music.  This will be different for everyone, and it’s important not to compare yourself to others.

Challenge yourself to stay in the present.

 Perhaps your worry is compounding—you are not only thinking about what is currently happening, but also projecting into the future. When you find yourself worrying about something that hasn’t happened, gently bring yourself back to the present moment.  Notice the sights, sounds, tastes and other sensory experiences in your immediate moment and name them. Engaging in mindfulness activities is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.

Stay connected and reach out if you need more support. 

Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly anxious or if you are struggling with your mental health, it’s ok to reach out to a mental health professional for support.  You don’t have to be alone with your worry and it can be comforting to share what you are experiencing with those trained to help. BTC offer a 50 minute initial consultation by video call,  at very low cost.  You will be invited to talk about the issues that are bothering you and we will then recommend what type of therapy will be the best fit.

Managing conflict between those you live with.   

A row between two people in a shared house or family has an impact on everyone. Most of the time, these things blow over and things move on. However, if not, you could try suggesting that you all get together to see if you can improve the atmosphere in the  house and work things out together.  We all need a safe and relaxing home where we can unwind.  Try these simple stages.  Nominate a neutral member of your house group to start the meeting.  Agree some basic ground rules.  e.g :  respect each other, don’t interrupt,  no threatening behaviours,  what is shared in the group stays in the group.  Agree on the length of your meeting.  Don’t rush it – these things can take time.  You will need at least 30 minutes even an hour if everyone is going to get a chance to speak.  Make sure that everyone in the meeting has agreed to these ground rules before you start.

  1.  Clarify what has happened :  invite those closest to the events to describe their experience.
  2. Share how it has affected each of you: Allow time for everyone to share how these events have affected them.  Has it upset them,  do they feel less relaxed in the house ?
  3. Share ideas as to what would help to reduce tensions: take turns to say what you each think might help going forward.  These can be really simple things  eg.  if someone has been shouting,  agree to talk not shout.  Agree to take time out rather than get into fierce arguments.  eg.  if arguments are about cleaning up, what about a rota.
  4. Agree on what steps you will take;  include details as to what you will do and when.  If you have agreed to meet again the next day, make sure it is clear what time you are meeting, who will remind everyone, who will get the meeting started.
  5. Review your solution:  hopefully your solution will work well.  Even if it all seems fine,  agree a follow up meeting in a week or a few days to check how everyone is doing now  – have things improved and if so what has changed since you last met ?