Managing your stress

Supporting your mental health

Stress is what takes place when the brain releases the hormone cortisol in response to situations it deems intimidating or dangerous. It is a normal part of daily life and can occur due to things like professional pressures or problems in your personal life. Small doses can even be beneficial to your productivity and ability to meet tight deadlines. However, prolonged stress can have a negative impact on your wellness if left untreated, leading to decreased immune function, a lack of energy and a higher risk of developing serious mental health problems. As such, being mentally healthy is vitally important to your health overall, supporting your physical wellbeing and helping you better enjoy life.

We turned to NHS doctor, Asha Padhiar, to discuss how to support your mental health and get the most out of life... 

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Our Q&A with Asha

Why is it important to have good mental health?

Mental health is an important part of our general wellbeing, no matter how old or young we are. It contributes to the way we think, feel and act in our day to day life. If our mental health has been suffering, it not only affects our physical wellbeing, it also affects our lives at home and work. This can lead to poorer lifestyle choices, reduced functional abilities, slower recovery from physical illness and an overall reduced quality of life. Individuals struggle to cope, adapt and solve problems to help lead a happy and productive life. Unfortunately, suicidal rates rise if mental health problems are left untreated. This is why it is so important to tackle mental health problems early on.

How can I better care for my mental health?

There are a number of ways we can care for and boost our mental health and wellbeing. These include: Physical activity/exercise - even a walk in the fresh air can work wonders Guided meditation and relaxation A healthy and varied diet - allow yourself some treats too! Having a social media detox! - There is a lot of negativity on social media which can be detrimental to our mental health. Good sleep hygiene - Having a good bedtime routine and aiming for 6-8 hours sleep has shown to improve mood and mental health Talking to friends and family Take time out for yourself to do the things you love - some ideas which are painting, gardening, cooking, reading

What do I do if I’m worried about my mental health?

If you are worried about your mental health, the first thing to do is seek help. This can be from your GP or even people you are close with, like family or friends. Other points of contact are support groups and helplines. Some examples are the mental health helpline via NHS, Samaritans, SANEline and CALM. If you are having suicidal thoughts and are at risk to yourself or others, it is important to get immediate help. You can visit your local A&E department who can keep you safe and refer you to the psychiatric liaison team or crisis team.

What causes mental health problems?

There are many factors that contribute to our mental health. These are Biological factors, which includes our genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain Life experiences like trauma and abuse Social circumstances and lifestyle, such as substance use, diet and physical activity Family history of mental health issues

How can I help someone else who is struggling with their mental health?

If you notice someone may be struggling with their mental health, please ask them how they are. Many people are not always asked this simple question, which means mental health problems are often neglected and left untreated for long periods. Take the time to sit down and have a conversation about any issues they may be experiencing. A good chat can make such a difference and lift up a person's mood. This can also be the motivation they need to seek help. If you feel they need additional help and support, advise them to visit their GP, who can assess them and direct them onto the appropriate services. If this is someone you are close with and they are worried about going alone, offer to accompany them to this appointment.