There are steps which you can take which may assist in maintaining a healthy mind:
What I do:
• Learn to relax – putting your body into a state of relaxation invokes the relaxation response, which has the effect of reversing the effects of stress – your pulse rate slows, blood pressure lowers, breathing becomes slower and muscles relax.
• Get enough sleep – sleep is critical for maintaining good mental health and for effectively managing stress. Chronic fatigue makes it difficult to cope with everyday life and we can very quickly start to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.
• Exercise – exercise releases chemical in your brain which make you feel good. This, in turn, can boost your self-esteem and confidence, improve your concentration and help you sleep better. It is also an effective in combatting feelings of stress.
• Eat well – a healthy diet makes for a healthier body. In turn, a healthier body will have a stronger immune system, which might make us more resilient in the face of stress and illness.
• Build up a strong support system – social support is an important antidote to mental ill-health. Social ties and relationships with others are emotionally satisfying and can help dilute the effects of stress, help us cope with stressful events and reduce the likelihood that stress will lead to poor health.
• Seek help when necessary – there may be times when it is not possible, on your own, to alleviate the difficulties you are facing. That is the time to seek professional help. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help if you are feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Talk to your GP or consult with a psychiatrist or psychologist.
How I play:
• Laugh – laughter relieves muscular tension, improves breathing, reduces stress hormones, regulates the heartbeat and releases endorphins into the blood. It is a good stress reducer and antidote do distress.
• Take a break – taking a break allows you to invest time in yourself. It affords you the time to relax, breathe and enjoy. It can be as simple as a 5 minute break away from your desk.
• Have fun – make an effort to have fun regularly whether it be socializing with friends, going to movies, reading a book or cooking a meal. Schedule fun activities into your diary and make them a priority.
What I think:
• Think positively – recognise that there are ways of interpreting a situation other than purely negatively. If we choose to see our glass as half-full we force ourselves to find the positive in the situation instead of focusing on the negative. Focus on your strengths and your blessings.
• Be grateful – take stock of all the good in your life even if your current circumstances might be difficult. It isn’t always ‘all bad’ and it is helpful to be grateful for the good.
Health society guide to stress
Caring for the mind Hales and Hales 1995