This year Mental Health Awareness Week brings even greater focus on our mental wellbeing. With many people finding lockdown hard for a number of reasons – fear, loneliness, anxiety, illness – we’re dealing with even greater challenges than normal.
For people with pre-existing mental health issues, the sense of anxiety associated with lockdown can be overwhelming. Self-care becomes harder. Depression more prevalent. For those of us who care at home for sufferers of conditions like Alzheimer’s – and for those who suffer – the walls feel like they’re closing in. Fear is everywhere. It’s hard to stay upbeat.
Time to be kind
This year’s theme is ‘Kindness’. And never before has it been so important.
Kindness is a simple thing we can all engage with. It can transform someone else’s day – a simple smile and a wave can mean the difference to someone between a dire day, and a day with a sense of kinship.
And we can engage in being kind in many ways – donating money or time to causes; delivering food to people who can’t get out; or simply by making that phone call and brightening someone’s day.
Maybe it’s just a case of taking a deep breath when someone else is out of order and trying to understand they’re just having a bad day. It happens to us all, and kindness can simply be not biting back in that moment.
Exercise and eating is a big part of mental wellbeing
Physical activity is a huge part of staying mentally well, which is also affected at the moment. Many of us are missing our regular classes, for example. Which means not only are we missing the benefits of exercise, we’re missing our classmates, the camaraderie too.
The benefits of exercise on mental wellbeing are widely documented. Everything from the endorphin boost to the sense of achievement helps to bump up the happy vibes. Studies have shown that regular exercise helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
And obviously eating healthily is important. If you don’t put decent fuel in the engine, it’s not going to work properly. Unfortunately, it’s not always fun cooking for one. Or trying to cook meals from scratch every single day. We know. We feel it too.
Your outdoor exercise right now is still really important, but it’s not the same, is it. And the dog isn’t going to do a spin class with you – the most spinning your dog engages with is probably chasing her tail.
Technology can help
Fortunately in this age of technology we have tools we can turn to for support. No, it’s not ideal. And no, it doesn’t replace human interaction. But when it comes to looking after your OWN mental health, there are plenty of options to try. Here’s a few great apps to help work on that mental health wellbeing during this difficult time…
7 APPS FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
So not really an app, this is more of a bonus. First of all, the NHS (god bless the NHS) has a great list of mental health apps used within our health service here in the UK. Some of these apps are only available by referral, so it’s worth knowing that before you start reading through these. But it’s a really good directory for finding out if there are some out there that would suit you. Talk to your GP if you fancy these. And if it’s hard to get referred right now, there might well be similar apps you can find online/in the App Store. This is a good place to browse, anyway.
This award-winning app is a great all-rounder, with support for sleep, meditation, and even masterclasses. It has stories to help calm the mind at bedtime, and guided meditations. There’s a premium version but the free version offers loads, including a ‘Daily Calm’ and sleep stories. Up to six people can share the premium version, so might be worth looking at a share? The music and background sounds are worth the download alone. Very calming. iOS/Android.
Keeping your brain limbered up is just as important as your body. Lumosity is a free app used by over 90 million people with a vast range of mental challenges to keep your noggin busy. Daily exercises, brain games – and now a new mindfulness app too.
EXERCISE PLAN FOR SENIORS
Okay, don’t be put off by the name – frankly that could do with some work. But the app is great for offering some incentive around exercise. There’s a range of different exercise options on here and you can choose your fitness level. There are different programs and challenges, and lots of yoga and stretching. Only on Apple at the moment unfortunately.
Exercise Plan for Seniors
This is a mental health app that deploys CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and ACT (acceptance commitment Therapy) methodology. It addresses depression, anxiety, stress etc. Using tools it help with things like overcoming negative thinking patterns, helps to track your thoughts and feelings, offers breathing techniques etc. And has forums for sharing your experience with other people. iOS/Android.
This is a great all-rounder with step counter built in, and a super simple interface for setting up your personal profile and goals to help you keep fit and healthy in body. We love the really easy calorie counting option, where you can simply scan bar codes. And it gives you detailed info on macros and the balance of your food intake. Add exercise to earn a few more calories on your daily allowance! And there’s plenty of blogs and recipes. A great app that you can sync with the desktop version. iOS and Android.
LISA50 – DATING & CHATTING
Loneliness can be mentally crippling. It’s great to stay in touch with other people and we are all missing hugs and love. But what about flirting and chatting too! Dating app Lisa50 has currently switched off all costs for people who are isolating alone and over 50. Founder David Minns said, ‘As some of our members are the most vulnerable during this outbreak I wanted to provide a platform that made self-isolation more manageable. Maybe when we are through the other side we might be able to celebrate lots of new relationships and even some marriages.’ iOS and Android.
If you’d like to know more about Mental Health Awareness Week you can click the link.