Our Top Mental Health Tips!
Here at Little Bird HQ, we’re big believers in being open about mental health and how it affects us. As a team, we’re supportive of one another & encourage self-care when needed. Since this week’s Wordy Wednesday post goes live just a few days before World Mental Health Day (October 10th), we felt it was the ideal time to share some of our top tips for keeping your emotional well-being on an even keel.
These ideas are easy and free to try and whilst we can’t promise that they’ll make all of your problems magically disappear, we do find that for us, they make life a little less stressful.
Listen To Music
You may not know this, but music is actually the glue that initially stuck the Little Bird duo together! We met through singing at a local women’s barbershop chorus and we’re still there, warbling our woes away each week…
Music soundtracks the highs and lows of our lives and helps us to express ourselves. As Hans Christian Anderson once said: “where words fail, music speaks.” Whether you’re putting on a sad song when you need a good cry, or turning up a happy tune to chase the blues away, music is a great way to explore your feelings and, ultimately, boost your mood. In fact, research has shown that music can actually be used to ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
What better excuse for breaking out your favourite albums?!
We all know that walking outdoors is good for our physical health, but did you know that it aids your mental well-being, too? Fresh air helps to send oxygen through your blood and this rush of oxygen to your head actually increases brain power, meaning that you can think more clearly and perform better when you return to work. Combine that with the increased levels of Vitamin D you get from being outside (deficiency in this vitamin has been shown to negatively affect mood) and the simple fact of having your senses awakened by the sights, sounds and smells all around you, and it’s no wonder that a stroll can do wonders for your mental health.
We like to stretch our legs in the afternoon and take a wander together, admiring the nature we’re surrounded by. That little change of scenery can often be just what we need to inspire us and we return to the office rejuvenated and ready to crack on with the rest of our day!
Talk To A Friend
This may seem like an obvious one, but keeping things bottled up is a major cause of stress. Talking to a trusted friend or family member can lighten the load and lead to solutions to problems that you’d never have thought of on your own.
Anyone who knows us will tell you that we’re almost never out of contact. We talk constantly and whether we’re discussing the deep and meaningful or nattering about something trivial, sharing our thoughts is a great way of de-cluttering our minds and keeping our mental health on track. Just knowing that someone is there to listen when things do get tough is really important.
Opening up can be hard, so choosing the right person is important. If there’s not someone in your life that you feel able to talk to, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 for free at any time of the day or night. You can even email them via firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a response within 24 hours. Your GP can also help to arrange counselling if you feel you’d benefit from longer-term support.
The bottom line is if you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, don’t keep it in. Help is out there.
Take A Break!
Sometimes, life can get on top of us. With the advent of mobile phones and social media, we’re never far away from work or current events. Whilst this can be a great thing, it can also be detrimental to our well-being if we’re finding it hard to switch off. There is absolutely no shame in going off the grid for an hour or two if your mental health requires it. Even the shortest of breaks can be beneficial.
At Little Bird HQ, we try to remember to regularly take screen breaks (so much of our work is computer-based, we’re in danger of developing square eyes most days…) and to simply sit outside with a cuppa for twenty minutes or so, with no phones to distract us. You might want to find half an hour to curl up with a book or to take a hot bath. Just remembering to take a little time away from work or other distractions can be really good for you.
Which leads us neatly onto…
In its most basic sense, mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in the moment, aware of where we are, what we’re doing and how we’re feeling, without being overwhelmed by anything going on around us. It might sound complicated or difficult, but anyone can do this with practise.
The simplest way to bring a little mindfulness into your life is to focus on your breathing. You can do this whilst seated at your desk, whilst having a walk in the fresh air, or even when lying in bed before sleep. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply and notice any sensations going on in your body. Sometimes distracting thoughts might pop into your head – that’s totally normal and doesn’t mean you’ve fallen at the first hurdle!
Mindfulness is about being aware of our thoughts and feelings as they happen, so acknowledge any thoughts that come into your mind.
Wherever you are when you choose to try mindfulness, just be aware of any physical or emotional sensations around you. If you’re outside, notice the temperature of the air as it hits your cheeks. Listen out for any sounds in the room, if you’re indoors. Just try to be as “present” in the moment as you possibly can.
There are lots of mindfulness meditation videos available on YouTube, which can help you to get started. Little Bird Emma likes to play one of these each night before bed, to calm her noisy mind down before sleep!
These are just a few ways that we try to stay on top of our emotional well-being. If they work for you too, then we’re happy to share them! Remember that if you’re really struggling, reaching out for help via a GP or mental health charity is a good step in the right direction. It can and does get better with help.