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The third Monday in January has been dubbed Blue Monday and this year it falls on 20th January. As Christmas and the New Year celebrations become a distant memory and dark cold nights edge us into the depths of winter, for some it can feel like a very depressing time of year.
But hold tight and keep reading as many institutions like the Samaritans and The Football Association ‘Heads Up’ have some helpful actions to keep us all feeling much more positive at this time of year.
There are lots of different reasons why Blue Monday strikes a chord with people, such as spiralling debts from the festive season, or reduced sunlight causing vitamin D deficiencies and waning (if not non-existent) motivation for those poor discarded New Year resolutions.
Nothing feels as good as giving back, so the Samaritans have come up with a great idea running a ‘Brew Monday’ campaign. Workplaces can register and receive a free fundraising pack. What’s nicer than having a cuppa and a chat whilst also raising money for the Samaritans? Raising just £5 can pay for a call to help someone who is struggling to cope and could possibly save someone life.
The Third round of the FA Emirates Cup will be supporting the FA ‘Heads Up’ campaign by encouraging fans to ‘TAKE A MINUTE’ and think about taking actions to look after our mental health. The games will be all delayed by one minute to highlight mental health and the importance of possibly reaching out to a friend or family member with potential mental health issues. Companies could follow suit by running their own take a minute internal campaign on a special wellbeing event or day.
Free Sense Health Guide
One of the most popular New Year resolutions is to ‘get healthy’ or ‘lose weight’ and here at Sense we know the importance of taking care of the physical aspects of our lives. We have created a Self Service guide to help you to review areas of your life where you may want to make some changes. To get your free copy just sign up to the Sense Massage Newsletter by texting JOIN to 07520615399. We never share your details with anyone else and you’ll receive occasional health news and exclusive special offers. You can unsubscribe at any time.
There are a myriad of ways to take care of your physical body from gyms to a personal instructors, weight social groups to physiotherapists as well as many more, but the importance of looking after ones mental health is only recently being seen as an important issue.
Unfortunately, western culture has developed in a way that we only tend to think about mental health when there is a problem. We know that maintenance of the body is important for good physical health and this can also be true for mental health. Good daily habits and choices make huge differences to our health, such as healthy food plans, taking exercise, sleeping well and reducing unhealthy lifestyle choices. Keeping healthy and active is also good advice for those dealing with stress.
So, how do we understand our mental health better and can we take preventative measures to keep a healthy mind? There is much research to be done in this area and it is now becoming increasing worrying just how many people suffer from mental heath issues. Organisations such as, Every Mind Matters, CALM, Heads Up, Sporting Chance and Samaritans as well as many others are addressing and helping persons suffering with mental health issues. Highlighting mental health in the workplace is one easy thing to implement, by asking staff to take a minute to talk to anyone who they may suspect is struggling with issues by listening and supporting them.
It’s important to seek professional advice if you feel you are suffering from depression or anxiety. Every Mind Matters has a short quiz you can take that will provide you with some helpful advice.
It is sensible to take control and start to think about creating your own individual mental health plan.
Sense has seen a large uptake in mindfulness sessions in the workplace and for good reason. Understanding mindfulness and meditation are steps in the right direction towards creating your own mental health plan.
Below we have listed just a few things to consider when making a mental health plan:
- Initial Problems – it is important to ascertain if you have any current mental health issues and if you need outside support from a medical professional to help you.
- Do you have any specific problems, such as finance, health or stress issues that are causing you mental anxiety?
- Are there any positive steps that can be taken to help reduce the specific problems facing you at the moment?
- If you feel low and can’t attribute it to anything specific could you be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, (SAD)? Could a daylight box be beneficial for you?
- Keep a diary and check your thought processes. It’s common knowledge that if you practice something you get better at it. How many times a day are you having negative thoughts? Ask yourself, are you drawn to negative thought patterns and is this an area you need to change? A diary will help give you an understanding of how often you think negativity and what you are thinking about. Monitor the negative and the positive. We rarely stop in this way to actually consider what we are thinking about, it’s a valuable exercise that can be helpful to change patterns of behaviour.
- Do you have someone you can share your thoughts with in an open and honest way? Having a friend, family member, health care professional or help lines such as the Samaritans to talk to is very important. Having a close bond to another human being is essential to good mental health, we all need to share, talk and listen and if learning how to connect and bonding is something you need to do start as soon as possible as this will be hugely beneficial to you.
Exercise the Mind
Mindfulness and meditation can help to refocus the mind particularly if you are becoming overwhelmed and the mind is racing. Learning how to meditate can teach you how to have more control over your thoughts. Either by calming the mind or by re-focusing and slowing down over active thoughts. Breathing can be used to realign the mind, think of it as switching the computer off and on again – resetting to get things working better.
On a morning the mind is fresh and alert and it’s typically believed that this a good time to prioritise tasks for the day ahead. In the same way try prioritise your thoughts and what you need to think about. Segment out what needs your mental attention and think about how will you deal with disruptions. Planning is helpful in all aspect of life and trying plan and organise your thoughts is no exception. What needs your attention today? How will you manage distractions? When will you take a mental break and what will you do? How will you re-set and rest the mind when you need to?
As mentioned earlier, physical activity is not only good for the body but also the mind. In the same way, the mind and the thoughts we allow effect our body. It’s no surprise that negative thoughts have been shown to have a negative effect on the body. Having an optimistic outlook can reduce the risk of degenerative diseases according to Harvard professor T.H Chan. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-your-attitudes-affect-your-health
Compassion and Kindness
Giving and kindness have been shown to be very beneficial for good mental health. Some people may feel that they are not in the right frame of mind to be able to offer help to others and this is absolutely fine. However, it worth thinking about why compassion and kindness are so effective towards good mental health. It’s important to understand that giving true compassion to another human being will help define a very deep connection and this can be accomplished with anyone even a total stranger. An enormous amount of happiness can be felt by the giver when their actions have brought joy to another human being. Giving brings great joy and a peaceful mind. A short footnote is necessary to stress that they way we give and the frame of mind we are in when we give is very important.
We would love to hear your thoughts on our article and if you have any additional advice to share this would be most helpful.