Looking after your mental health and wellbeing

15 January 2020

Dr Allan Johnston, Consultant Sports Psychiatrist, Spire Leeds Hospital, tells us how we can look after our mental health:

“Mental health challenges can affect anyone – around one in four people in the UK will be affected by mental health conditions over their lifetime. From the age we learn to walk and talk we are encouraged to look after our physical health, however it’s equally important to look after your mental health. Making simple changes in your life can make a big difference.

"Mental health includes our physical, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act, can determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

"Having good mental health can help us sleep better, feel better, motivate us to do the things we want to do and help us to have more positive relationships. It can not only help us now, but it can also enable us to deal with difficult times in the future and it may also reduce our risk of physical health problems.

"One thing we can do is to be aware of, and to challenge, negative thoughts and take steps to see things differently. Noticing our thoughts and feelings can help us to gain a better perspective. Sometimes this is known as being more mindful. Mindfulness can help us feel calmer or just simply taking a little extra time to notice the world around you – a blue sky, the wind in the trees, the support of friends and colleagues.

"Good quality sleep can make a big difference to how we feel mentally so it’s important to get enough. Spending time with friends and family and talking to someone about how we are feeling can also help improve our mental health and wellbeing.

"Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem. Being active, enjoying the outdoors and having a healthy, balanced diet – the brain needs nutrients to function well too! These all impact how we feel and have a positive effect on our mood. Try to engage in an activity or hobby, learn something new or do something that makes you happy.

"If you find that you are still struggling to cope or feel anxious or depressed, don’t internalise your feelings, you should never have to deal with problems alone. Seek professional help. Talk to your GP and tell them how you are feeling. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.”

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