// 26th June 2019
Mental Health Matters
By The Evolve team
As big supporters of Mental Health Matters we are focused on ensuring we promote ways for our team to look after themselves. Mental health matters is an opportunity to spark global discussions about mental health issues and mobilise efforts in support of mental health. We want to recommend a variety of ways that you could take more time for you, allowing you to focus on things that take you to that happy self. We don’t want to lose you here, so we’ll quickly point out that this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym! You could take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football, really, it’s all about finding an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
As we were brainstorming this morning, we thought we would share our favourites for self-care and helping us to channel our own mental health in a positive way!
Some of us are big garden lovers and research actually shows that gardening can reduce mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and it can also reduce stress and combat high blood pressure, as well as improving overall physical fitness. It also improves confidence and helps with concentration. Ask any gardener why they enjoy gardening, and many will say that it "makes them feel good". So, what is it about pulling up weeds, pruning unruly shrubs and tending to seedlings that makes us feel so good? Well growing plants gives us responsibility. Having a living thing to care for gives us a sense of responsibility – if we don’t prune, water or otherwise care for the plant, it may die. It connects us to nature by helping us to feel more at one with the world. Our favourite is that plants don’t judge! For those suffering with conditions such as anxiety or paranoia, going out into a social setting can be intimidating. But spending time in the garden doesn’t have the same connotations.
Another firm favourite with us is Art and creativity. When it comes to art, there's no secret that it certainly has its share of misconceptions. Some people feel that in order to consider yourself a real artist, you have to create something such as a sculpture or painting, while others believe that you either are or are not born with talent. However, in Evolve we believe that every is born with the desire and ability to express themselves, and art is a great way to achieve this, especially in terms of our mental health. Being creative relieves stress, encourages creative thinking, helps to boost self esteem and provides us with a sense of accomplishment and most importantly it encourages brain activity. Best of all, you don’t have to be Picasso! It can be as simple as a colouring book, getting out and taking photographs or even starting a home DIY project! Whatever you choose, be as creative as you dare and most of all, enjoy.
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Slicing and dicing vegetables for dinner is something some people find very therapeutic. The steady chop, chop, chop of my knife against a cutting board can quieten the mind and soothe the soul. Cooking can be a meditation, with the promise of a good meal afterward! One obvious link between cooking and mental health is nutrition. It’s easier to control the quality of your diet when you prepare much of the food yourself. Research has established a link between brain health and several nutrients, including omega-3 fats, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids. To make sure that your brain is getting enough of these vital nutrients, it helps to know exactly what you’re feeding it.
Thinking out loud it became apparent that a change of scene or a change of pace can be as good as anything else for encouraging positive mental health. This can be as simple as a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Don’t forget to give yourself some ‘me time’ - connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing and maintaining these relationships.
Above all, remember that none of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things don’t go to plan. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. Local services are there to help you.
The Evolve Team