The term ‘mental health’ covers a number of aspects relating to our happiness, emotions and overall wellbeing.
Our mental health can be affected by almost everything in our day to day lives. From our careers and work/life balance, the foods we eat, the company we keep, things we view online and even down to past traumas and childhood experiences.
Approximately 1 in 4 of us will suffer with our mental health here in the UK every day, and it not only affects the sufferer, but the loved ones around them too.
There are a number of coping strategies you can use, as and when you need to. Like anything, mental health and coping mechanisms are not a ‘one size fits all’, so try a few different things and see what benefits you the most. It may be that one day something works, and another day something else will, and that’s absolutely fine.
One of the visualisations that I like to use in my sessions, is a ‘Toolbox’. Your personalised toolbox can include anything useful to you to help you through a negative thought or difficult situation. Your tools can be anything and everything! Some ideas include:
Create a happy music playlist
Your favourite book
Some pictures of happy memories and loved ones
Cosy socks and comfy clothes
Lighting candles or diffuse essential oils
A sweet or savoury treat (sucking on a mint can be really helpful when suffering with anxiety or upset tummies!)
Book of positive affirmations, or why not make your own in the ‘notes’ section on your phone
A feel good movie
Packet of tissues
A fidget toy (a bracelet or hairband on your wrist works great for something more discreet)
You can choose whatever you feel helps you and brings you comfort. Sometimes you may not even have to use the items that are in it, but knowing they are there and available to you can be a great source of comfort.
What would you put in yours?
If you find yourself suffering from anxiety or panic attacks, it can become quite debilitating. Sometimes, doing the most ‘normal’ of tasks can feel huge. Some days may be better than others, and it’s not always possible to hide yourself away from the world, despite how much you may want to.
Here are some great coping mechanisms to help support you through the days when your anxiety may be heightened:
Carry a small stone or crystal, something with a smooth surface
Have an aromatherapy rollerball that you can rub onto your wrist. These can be available in a variety of essential oils to calm, relax and ground you
Recite a mantra or a positive affirmation that you know makes you feel good within yourself. The power of your voice when you speak the words into reality, can overtake your negative intrusive thoughts and set you back onto the path of positivity
Count backwards from 100 skipping 3 numbers – this is great for distracting your overthinking mind and giving it something to focus on
Clap your hands or click your fingers
One of the best things you can do in a situation like this, is to get outside in the fresh air and take a nice big breath. Make sure that your ‘out’ breath lasts longer than your ‘in’ breath. This is called conscious breathing. How often do you stop and pay attention to your breath? I bet it’s not often! You can significantly lower your heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels by taking just a few big, deep breaths.
Another tactic is to talk to yourself like you are your own parent or best friend. What reassurance would you give someone who was stressing out or even having a panic attack? Remember that speaking the words into reality will overtake your negative thought patterns.
I know that I am not going to die
I will be ok
I will let it in, I will go with it. I move with the ebb & flow of life
I feel the emotion and this will end
It will end much quicker if I let it in
Talking things through either with someone else or yourself will help you to see a situation much more rationally. Listen to the fear, sit with it. Ask yourself, ‘is it from your mind or is it an outside fear?’
It’s so important to schedule some time to ourselves within our busy lives. If you can do this daily that’s great, but if not, just 10 minutes or half an hour a week will do your overall wellbeing the world of good! If someone could gift you an extra hour a week to spend however you wish, what would you do?
When you wake, spend an extra 5 minutes in bed
Don’t look at your phone for the first half an hour of your day… yes you really can do it! We absorb SO much negativity from social media, and you just don’t need it the second you open your eyes
Do a 10 minute meditation
Have a cup of tea/coffee in bed
Spend time with your pet or take the dog for a walk
Spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower, let the water wash over you and visualise all your worries and cares running down the plughole. You can even adjust the temperature to then charge your energy up with positivity once you’ve finished the cleansing
Get outside, close your eyes, take a deep breath and connect with nature. Even hug a tree!
Have a catch up with a friend
Listen to your favourite songs
Do some 5 minute stretches or yoga poses – especially if you spend a large amount of time sitting down at work perhaps. Get your body moving!