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HEALTH COLUMN: World Mental Health Day - a time to check how you are doing
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HEALTH COLUMN: World Mental Health Day - a time to check how you are doing
on 05 October 2018
Leo Powell gathers together 10 points to consider ahead of World Mental Health Day on Wednesday

WORLD Mental Health Day is observed on October 10th every year and Wednesday sees the 2018 version. The day was established with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health.

The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

With the support of Devenish Nutrition and the encouragement and support of Dr Adrian McGoldrick, The Irish Field began a fortnightly series of health columns last year, and topics have in the main been about issues which affect directly, or indirectly, the mental health of our readers.

In the week that is in it, try these tips to keep your balance, or re-balance yourself, and most importantly seek help if you need it. A full list of contacts is published on this page and all offer support, counselling and advice in the strictest confidence. No problem is beyond solving and sharing your worries with someone you trust and respect is a great first step towards sorting any issue.

1. Value yourself

Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favourite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language. Any activity will help.

2. Take care of your body

Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:

  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Avoid cigarettes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise regularly as this helps to decrease depression and anxiety and improve your mood
  • Get enough sleep. Research has shown that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression, especially in younger people.
  • 3. Surround yourself

    with good people

    People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans to do things with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

    4. Give yourself

    Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need – and it’s a great way to meet new people.

    5. Learn how to deal with stress

    Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills. Try various activities such as Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humour in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

    6. Quiet your mind

    Try meditating, mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. There are many apps for your mobile that can offer guided meditations and help you relax.

    7. Set realistic goals:

    Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realise your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule or over-stretch. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal.

    8. Break up the monotony:

    Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant. Ensure at work that you take a few minutes out between projects to refresh yourself.

    9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs

    If you consume alcohol, use it in moderation as it is a known depressant. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to ‘self-medicate’, but in reality these only aggravate problems.

    10. Get help when you need it

    Seeking help is a sign of strength - not weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.

    Thanks to Dr Adrian McGoldrick for his continuing support and encouragement for this series on health matters.

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