Mental Health and Wellbeing
In many ways, mental health is just like physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it. Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year (1)
Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you’re frequently thinking, feeling, or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse. (1)
DSAuk were aware that the Mental Health and Wellbeing of its members may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. To provide support not only during those times but at any time, DSAuk approached one of its members, clinical psychologist, Dr Donna Walters, to write a series of articles covering various topics within mental health and wellbeing. There are six articles in the series which can all be read as flipbooks or downloaded below.
1. Routine and Daily Balance
As we begin to emerge out of the Coronavirus crisis, the ‘rules’ of the lockdown become more uncertain and potentially may cause us greater anxiety. We also have time to reflect on the past weeks and the journey we have been through – both positive and negative.
We may be trying to make sense of what has just happened and what it has meant to us personally and how we plan for a changed future.
Sleep is important for both our physical and mental wellbeing, helping us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion.
A good night’s sleep helps us to.
- Concentrate and be more active during the day.
- Eat more healthily. If we are tired, we tend to reach for the chocolates and caffeine to keep us alert!
- Improve our immune function.
Sleeping well is important as we try and make sense of the world.
In our busy lives we are often juggling many different tasks. Often thinking about what we have got to do or what we have already done, and we may lose connection with the present moment.
Mindfulness is about being present and fully engaged in where we are and what we are doing, without distractions. Being aware of our thoughts and feelings but not getting caught up or being distracted by them.
Everyone experiences challenges in life from those small daily events to larger events with more lasting impact. Each challenge affects everyone differently. Generally, we adapt well to these situations, due mainly to our resilience. Thus, resilience is our way of adapting to stress and challenges. It doesn’t mean that we won’t experience difficulties or distress, it’s about how we bounce back.
It has been shown that if we have greater resilience, we have a more positive outlook on life and greater satisfaction.
5. Breathing Techniques
Breathing is a necessity of life that usually occurs without much thought. Proper breathing is an antidote to stress. When we are worried or panicky, we breathe much faster and shallower to get more oxygen into the body. This is okay in the short term but can upset the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange and contribute to greater anxiety and fatigue.
Thus, learning and practicing breathing techniques is one of the simplest and most effective ways of supporting our well-being, improving lung function (great for sport and singing!) and can also help in the management of chronic pain.
How to Breathe Deeply
6. Working from Home
Since the outbreak of Covid-19 we have all had to adjust to new ways of living and working. Many people may have been working from home since the beginning of the initial lockdown in March 2020. Others may have been furloughed and have either already returned to work or are waiting to return, however in the current situation, government guidelines advise that we should continue to work from home where possible.
Whilst there can be many perks from working at home; organising work to fit in with our own schedules, saving money on commuting, being able to home cook and having access to our own space; it can also cause stress, boredom and uncertainty.