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Quick Lane

Exercise

Doing regular exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels. It doesn’t have to be very strenuous or sporty to be effective – the important thing is to pick something you enjoy doing, so you’re more likely to stick with it.

Learn to accept yourself

One of the most important steps in maintaining mental wellbeing is to learn to accept yourself. If you value yourself, you are more likely to have positive relationships with other people and find it easier to cope with difficult times in your life. Here are some tips to help you increase your self-esteem: 
• Try not to compare yourself to other people
• Acknowledge your positive qualities and things you are good at
• Learn to identify and challenge unhelpful thinking patterns
• Be assertive – don’t allow people to treat you with a lack of respect
• Engage in hobbies that you enjoy

Sleep

There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep – don’t try to force sleep, get up, go to another room and try to relax there. Do something soothing, such as listening to music, until you’re tired enough to go back to bed. If you are awake for long periods, repeat this process as many times as you need to.

Are you having too much caffeine?

Caffeine is a stimulant. Having too much can make you feel anxious and experience low mood, disturb your sleep, or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. Caffeine is in: tea, coffee, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks. You might feel noticeably better quite quickly if you drink less caffeine or avoid it altogether.

Relax

It is important to make time for yourself and relax. In order to look after others you need to first care for yourself. Selfcare is not self-indulgent, it’s essential. Do something you like, or even just take a five-minute break to look out of the window. Learning a relaxation technique, such as yoga, meditation or mindfulness (find out more at bemindful.co.uk) can also help you relax and reduce stress levels.

Identify mood triggers

Try keeping a track of your mood using a mood diary. This may help you recognise what affects your mental wellbeing and spot changes that may otherwise be difficult to identify. 
 
For example, you may realise that seeing a certain person has an effect on your mood. Knowing what affects your moods can help you take steps to avoid these situations or mitigate against the negative impact a certain situation may have on you. 

Diet

Explore the relationship between the food you eat and your mood. Improving your diet can help give you positive feelings, clearer thinking, more energy and calmer moods. Think about how regularly you eat, if your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and experience low mood. You need to eat regularly to keep your sugar level steady, and choose foods that release energy slowly like protein, nuts and seeds, oats and wholegrains.

Build healthy relationships with people

Building and maintaining constructive relationships with people is an important part of staying mentally well. If you spend time talking with positive and supportive people, you are more likely to have a better self-image, be more confident and feel able to face difficult times. In return, if you are caring and supportive to other people, you are more likely to get a positive response from them. This is particularly important if working alone is a significant part of your job.

What can I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed?

1. Try a breathing exercise. 
For example breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.

2. Take a break
If it’s possible, step away from what you are doing. You could read a book or a magazine, even if
it’s only for a few minutes.

3. Picture yourself somewhere you feel calm
Even if you can’t physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhere you feel calm. Think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful. You might choose a memory of somewhere you’ve been, or a place you have imagined.

4. Listen to music
Really listen to the music. Can you hear a drum beat or a certain rhythm?
Focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away.

5. Try a grounding exercise
To reconnect you with your surroundings. Look for and find one thing you can see, one you
can touch, one you can hear, one you can smell and one you can taste.

6. Stay safe
If your feelings become overwhelming, and you have suicidal thoughts or you think you may self harm, remember that you can pick up the phone at any time of night or day and talk to the Samaritans on their 24 hour Freephone helpline: 116 123

Need support?

Samaritans
24-hour emotional support for anyone struggling to cope. 24-hour freephone helpline: 116 123
Email: jo@samaritans.org

MIND for better mental health
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information is vital. If you need non-urgent information about mental health support and services that may be available to you, please call our infoline on 0300 123 3393 or email info@mind.org.uk. If you feel more comfortable texting, you can now do so. Send your texts through to 86463.