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Mental health and wellbeing

Having good mental health means feeling positive about yourself and being able to cope with everyday pressure.

It is important to take time to invest in your mental health and wellbeing:

  • Try to maintain good social networks, keep in touch with family and friends who can support you in times of stress. Having someone to talk to can help you to cope better.
  • Religious beliefs and spirituality can be a great source of comfort and support to many people
  • Continue to take time to pursue hobbies and interests and importantly keep doing the things that you know you are good at. We all get enormous self satisfaction when we do things well and are praised for our efforts
  • Research suggests that caring for others including pets is beneficial to our health
  • Being involved in the community as a volunteer doing things such as calling in on elderly neighbours who may not be able to get out can give a sense of purpose and satisfaction
  • Keep learning – learn or do something new, even if it is only trying out a new recipe. Continue to exercise your brain, reading, doing crosswords and keeping abreast of current affairs keeps your mind healthy and active

Boost your mood

Everyone feels sad from time to time and our moods are constantly changing, this is normal.  However if you feel in low spirits for several weeks you should think about contacting your GP for advice. Getting help is a sign of wisdom not weakness and is not wasting your GP’s time.

There are many ways to boost your mood and get more enjoyment out of life.

  • Eat well – have a varied and balanced diet. There are some studies that suggest depression is linked to a low intake of fish (particularly oily fish which is high in omega 3 fatty acids).
  • Keep as active as possible – hormones called endorphins are released when we exercise and these energise and lift our mood.
  • Use alcohol sensibly – alcohol can be a depressant
  • Try to get enough sleep and rest. Most people need 7 -8 hours each night.

There are many community organisations in your area, older people’s support groups, church groups and luncheon clubs, that can help boost your mental health and wellbeing.

Please refer to our Older people section for further information on advice and support groups.

Take Five Steps to Wellbeing

The Take Five steps to Wellbeing campaign is designed to encourage individuals to think about what we can do to look after our own mental health and well-being.

A research group New Economics Foundation carried out research looking at the ways we think and behave in relation to our mental health and well-being. The results showed there are five steps we can all take to improve and promote our mental health and well-being.

These steps can be easily remembered using ‘CLANG’ with your fingers, to start the first word.

  1. Connect: Meet your friend’s eye, smile, it’s contagious! Connect with the people around you: family, friends, colleagues and neighbours at home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
  2. Learn:  Learn new things, they will follow you around forever! Don’t be afraid to try something new, rediscover an old hobby or sign up for a course. Take on a different responsibility, fix a bike, learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun to do.
  3. Active: Move more, sweat is magic! Go for a walk or run, cycle, play a game, garden or dance. Exercising makes you feel good. More importantly, discover a physical activity that you enjoy; one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
  4. Notice: Life is beautiful, sit up, take notice and be grateful! Stop, pause, or take a moment to look around you. What can you see, feel, smell or even taste? Look for beautiful, new, unusual or extraordinary things in your everyday life and think about how that makes you feel.
  5. Give: Throw Kindness around like confetti! Do something nice for a friend or stranger, thank someone, smile, volunteer your time or consider joining a community group. Look out as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.

Models are being developed to promote ‘The Take Five Steps to Wellbeing’ in Schools, Workplaces and Communities.

Further information

Take 5
Northern Trust Mental Health Services
Mind Your Head

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