Death, taxes and mental health problems connect us all. Be it via the insidious creep, a breath-snatching blow to the stomach or somewhere in-between, EVERYONE has been, is being or will be affected by mental health issues at some point, be these their own or those of someone they care about.
There are 64.7million NHS prescriptions for anti-depressants, at a cost of £266million/year, contributing to the £7.5billion yearly bill that depression alone costs the NHS. Stress, the topic in question, correlates strongly with depression and other mental health problems.
The Mental Health Foundation champions better awareness of mental health and has produced this booklet which takes an in-depth look at stress, what it is, how to recognise it and what you can do about it.
Physiotherapists will often deal with clients suffering the effects of stress – whether these clients acknowledge or are aware of this effect or not. And stress and mental health issues have an indirect effect on many physical ailments so as Physio’s we always need to consider how the mental may be interacting with the physical.
And as we humans are classically poor at detecting what’s bubbling under the surface when it comes to our mental health, this MHF Stress Test is a clever little indicator of where you’re sitting on the scale.
2. BE AWARE OF SMOKING AND DRINKING ALCOHOL – problems masquerading as soothers; recognise what are acceptable levels for both
3. EXERCISE – potentially a medication-free prescription and so says a growing body of evidence here, here and here. Gaining the ‘exercise-mindset’ whilst dealing with low mood can be a challenge but recognising its potential value can help and a tip from this blogger: “the trick that has helped me… is allowing myself full permission to do some but as little (exercise) as I want”.
4. TAKE TIME OUT – find a time and a place to breathe…
5. BE MINDFUL – hippy nonsense? Apparently not; it’s growing in popularity and can help reduce stress and anxiety; bemindful.co.uk has more information on how mindfulness works and for a clearer, calmer head here’s a list of the ’10 best mindfulness apps’
6. GET SOME RESTFUL SLEEP – poor sleep can be a vicious circle in bringing your mood down so it’s worth investigating how to boost quality shut-eye time if you suspect that you’re not getting enough
7. DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF – remember Pooh & Piglet
And if you need help, speak to someone – someone you trust, a friend, your GP, a healthcare professional, someone who will care. The mental health behemoth is hauling its bulk out of the shadows. There are a growing number of lights being shone upon it, squashing the mindless taboo that it was and calling for us all to hear that getting good mental health matters. It may not be easy to achieve but the best things in life generally aren’t. And it really does matter.
As ever, thanks for reading.