Mental Health Awareness Week 2021: Top tips for taking care of your mental health
In the finale of a three-part series, Charlotte Banks shares what she has learnt over the last few years and the tips and resources she uses to support her education.
I am no expert in the most effective methods of dealing with mental health issues, but as someone that has faced some really tough situations personally and, from a work point of view, worked in a very demanding industry. I have learned that baby steps and doing a little something every day for your own wellbeing is the key. Don’t set yourself up for failure by forcing yourself into 7 days a week gym plan, or to clear your task list in a day. Everyone will have different methods of self-care but the most effective methods for many people include the following:
Exercise! From running to half an hour of yoga, it doesn’t need to be a long session or training for a marathon but something you enjoy.
Meditation – From 5 minutes to an hour, it is really up to you how much time you put into this.
Spending time outside – Walking during lunch or sitting in the garden to get away from the noise of life.
On that note…taking lunch – Becoming counterproductive will likely only add to your issues.
Getting enough sleep – Prioritising extra sleep over that Netflix binge!
Taking a break from social media – Don’t compare your lowest lows to someone else’s highest highs. People on the whole don’t advertise their lows on social media. Unfortunately, the strive for ‘Perfection’ is a big issue in the increase of anxiety and depression in today’s society.
Doing something you love that is purely for you – Reading, walking, dance classes, spa session, etc.
Eating a bit healthier – Don’t promise yourself that you’ll become vegan overnight but maybe drink more water, eat more home cooked meals, and order less Deliveroo.
Talking to people outside of work and your family – The two biggest commitments we have usually. Meet up/video chat with your friends and be just you for a while.
I’m ok but how do I help someone else I think is struggling?
This is tough because there is a fine line between helping and causing someone to withdraw further. It might be helpful to let them know you are happy to help or listen where you can, and then put the ball back in their court. It is important not to make the person feel like a burden or a lesser person, or to provide advice where it hasn’t been asked for. Instead, offer a listening ear and help if they ask you to. It is critically important not to judge them.
In the workplace, be mindful of ‘jokes’ that surround mental health. This can include comments like “I think I need sectioning”, “Weather’s a bit bipolar today” and “This person will have a breakdown when I give them the news”. They may be intended as innocent jokes but we wouldn’t ever make such jokes about physical disabilities, so we shouldn’t be downplaying mental health issues either.
The Equality Act 2010 covers mental health as a disability and therefore we have a professional duty both in and out of work to not discriminate against mental health issues as much as we have a duty to not discriminate against race, religion, gender, sexuality etc. For me personally, I believe that the best way of doing that is to educate ourselves around these topics and to steer away from judgement. I have listed below some of the resources I have used which you may find helpful for taking care of yourselves and others or just to educate yourself around any topics that are unfamiliar.