“Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see differences of the colours, but where exactly does one first blindingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.”
This quote from Billy Bud, Sailor by Herman Melville beautifully illustrates the idea that mental illness may exist as a continuum of varying severity among many of us.
Good mental health allows us to feel, think and behave in a way that enables us to thrive – enjoying our lives, but many of us will be affected by poor mental health in some way at some point in our lives. It can be debilitating to a point of not being able to leave the house, and can steal all enjoyment from our activities.
It is a topic that is being more widely spoken about, and the Royals only made the conversation louder by leading the Heads Together campaign. Mental health is a tricky topic to discuss for lots of us, with a huge stigma still attached to it, but it is something that gets better when spoken about.
With only a small minority of people reporting good mental health (Mental Health Foundation), it is important that we speak about it more and also engage in positive steps to improve our mental wellbeing. After reading various mental health charity websites and documents I thought I’d make a list of a few things that we can do regularly (if not every day) to improve our general mental wellbeing. I have also included a list of the resources I used for information on mental health.
- Spend time with friends and family – this increases our sense of belonging and can improve mental wellbeing
- Going for a walk (or being physically active in any way)
- Spending time on your interests (maybe this is gardening, painting, cooking etc.) – as well as giving us relaxation time this can also become an opportunity to join groups and meet people with shared interests
- Getting enough sleep – poor mental health can cause poor sleep, and poor sleep can influence mental health
- Eating healthily – this can improve mood and energy levels, increase positive feelings and enable clearer thinking (my post ‘Improving mood through diet’ can be found here)
- Learning new things – this can help us appreciate the ‘small wins’ such as trying out a new recipe, or reading about a new subject, making us feel proud of ourselves and increasing our self-esteem
If you are struggling with mental health problems please seek help from friends and family, your GP (or other health professional) and or by visiting some of the following websites for more information. You don’t need to suffer in silence.
BDA Food Facts – https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/foodmood.pdf
CALM – https://www.thecalmzone.net/
Heads Together – https://www.headstogether.org.uk/
Mental Health Foundation – https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
Young Minds – https://youngminds.org.uk/
Laura Thomas also recently focused on mental health on her podcast, Don’t Salt My Game. You can find the episode here.