Talking to Your GP About Mental Health

There’s a lot of rhetoric in the media about mental health being just as important as physical health, but when it comes to talking to a GP, we’re much more likely to talk to them about our physical problems than our psychological ones.

Patient Having Consultation With Male Doctor In Office

Often people can feel like they’re wasting their GP’s time if they book an appointment for mental health complaints, for example they may feel as though they’re wasting NHS time by going on account of emotional or psychological problems. Mental health issues are often perceived – even by sufferers themselves – as something patients should work through on their own, and people have a tendency to downplay the severity of their mental health problems, for example, dismissing depression as ‘feeling a bit sad’ and therefore not worth wasting their doctor’s time over.

So how do you go about talking to your GP about mental health?

WHEN

One of the most common problems people face when talking about mental health is that they feel that their problems aren’t severe enough to be worth ‘bothering’ a doctor with.

As a general guide, you should see your GP if your mental health is having any kind of negative impact on your day to day life, particularly if it’s limiting your capacity to function normally. This might be not enjoying things you normally would, having difficulty sleeping, or feeling unable to cope.

 

HOW

Once you’ve made your appointment, you may find it useful to write down all your symptoms and feelings, or ask a close family member to write down what they see. This will help you remember everything you want to say when the time comes, as well as giving the doctor a rounded picture of the problem at hand.

Most importantly, be honest. People have a tendency to downplay their mental health problems because they’re embarrassed, but this can prevent you from getting the most appropriate help and treatment.

 

WHY

There’s a misconception among the general public that doctors can only treat physical ailments, or that if you go to the GP for mental health issues, they’ll just throw pills at the problem, but in fact, GPs can refer you to a range of treatments and services. It may be that medication is the right treatment for you, but as well as this, GPs can refer you for CBT and other talking therapies, refer you to local charities who specialise in your issue, as well as advise on general well-being such as diet and exercise.

5 Ways To Be More Positive

Telling anyone to ‘cheer up!’ or ‘think more positively’ will often result in an icy glare.

And rightly so – whether you’re just in a bad mood, or suffering with a mental health problem, thinking more positively isn’t as easy as such flippant remarks make it sound.

Nevertheless, there are a few pro-active things you can do to improve your mood and outlook – yes! There are ways to be more positive!

Think Positive Written On Sand Beach - Positive Thinking Concept

 

The Power of Music

Listen to whatever music puts you in a good mood, whether it’s 80’s power ballads or heavy metal. Music is a stimulant for our brains, and listening to something upbeat can be effective in lifting mood.

 

Set Goals, And Focus On Them

When you’re feeling low, it can make you feel detached and directionless. Having goals gives you something to focus on and work towards, giving you a sense of doing something constructive, and looking forward to a better future rather than concentrating on what’s making you unhappy in the present.

 

Fill Your Life With Positive People

Do you have a friend who brings you down? It could be someone with whom the friendship is mostly one-sided (i.e. someone who needs a lot of attention and support but isn’t prepared to reciprocate), or it could be someone who’s generally negative in their comments. You don’t need people like that in your life.

You don’t need to be mean, but find a way of filtering negative people out of your life and you’ll find that you feel lighter and more positive as a result.

 

Ask Yourself “Does This Really Matter?”

Whenever something gets you down, ask yourself this question. If the answer is ‘no’, then let go of the issue. Accept what has happened and move forward.

If the answer is ‘yes’, then you can focus on constructive ways of fixing whatever is making you unhappy. By asking yourself the question, you can save yourself the wasted energy spent on problems not worth worrying about!

 

Remember, You Always Have A Choice

If you’re in a situation that makes you unhappy, be it work or a personal relationship, you have the choice to exit that situation. It doesn’t always feel like it, but you do have the choice to quit the job that makes you miserable, or leave the partner who puts you down, or leave the party when you’re not enjoying yourself.

The only person who can make that choice is you, and while the choice may be a difficult one – maybe you rely on the income, or live with the partner, or have social obligations – but you do have the power to put your own well-being first and leave.

 

4 Easy Life Hacks: Small Changes to Make a Big Difference

Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make the biggest difference!

A tiny change to your behaviour or organisational system can make your day go so much smoother – and cutting out those little irritations can have a huge impact on your mood!

So here are our four favourite ‘life hacks’ – quick and easy changes to improve your life.

Hand writing the text: Life Hacks

 

Put Your Keys, Phone and Wallet in the Same Place, Every Day

How much time do you think you’ve wasted over the years looking for your phone or your keys? And why can you never find them when you’re in a hurry?

Set aside a place in your house (and handbag too!) where you know you keep these items. It will make getting out the door so much simpler in the morning – and we all know how early morning stress can set us up for a bad day!

 

Create and ‘Emergency Card’ for Your Wallet

Simply take a business card-sized piece of white card and write the following information on it:

  • Emergency Contact
  • Blood Type (if you know it)
  • Allergies
  • Medications

If you’re ever in an accident, this information could save your life!

 

Colour Code Your Keys With Nail Polish

Do you have a load of different keys on the same key chain? It can be difficult to tell one from the other, and it’s very frustrating when you can’t find the one you want.

With this simple hack, you can identify them easily – just paint the round end of each key with different coloured nail polish for an easy colour coding system. Never get the wrong key stuck in the lock again!

 

De-Clutter

Not worn an item of clothing in 3 months? Send it to a charity shop.

Got a pile of magazines you’re never going to read? Recycle them.

Got a load of papers on your desk? Shred them.

De-cluttering your home and work environment not only makes things easier to find, it will improve your mood. Coming home to a messy house gives you an instant reminder that you have chores to do, coming home to a clean one will give you more time to relax!

5 Top Tips For Getting Motivated!

Are there things you want to achieve in your life, but have trouble getting started?

You’re not alone.

Motivation is an elusive thing, and sometimes it can be hard to summon up the energy to take us where we want to be.

But it can be cultivated – and, to that end, we’ve put together our 5 top pieces of advice for getting motivated!

Man about to walk over precipice on SUCCESS word bridge. Dream s

 

1. Commit Publicly

Tell people about your goal – post it to Facebook, tell your friends and family – do whatever you need to do to make yourself accountable to others as well as to yourself, even if the goal is a personal one. You’ll find that the desire not to look bad in front of others will vastly outweigh your desire to give up, even on your off days.

 

2. Start Small

A big, overarching goal can be daunting because it seems so far off and unattainable. Instead, try breaking it down into smaller, more achievable goals – the kind of things that can be achieved on a daily or weekly basis. This makes your goal seem much more realistic, which will make making excuses for not doing things much harder!

 

3. Find Inspiration

Look up stories of people who have done the things you want to achieve. Read them over and over again. Print them out and keep them in your desk drawer for when you need them. Read them especially when you’re feeling like your motivation is lacking. If they can do it, so can you!

 

4. Build Anticipation

This one is for before you start on your journey. Setting a start date a few weeks in advance not only gives you time to prepare, but also time to get excited about the changes you’ll be making. Excitement can be a valuable tool in getting motivated in those first few months and weeks.

 

5. Remember That Motivation Isn’t Constant

You will have days where you feel really motivated, completely focused on your goal and raring to go. But equally you’ll have days where you aren’t, where you can’t be bothered to do whatever it is you have to get done that day. But don’t give up. Motivation comes in waves, and it’s only a matter of time before the next one comes along – just be ready to ride it!

 

4 Ways To Improve Memory

Everyone forgets things now and again, but if you’re regularly forgetting things – appointments, commitments, things you’d said you’d do – it can become a problem.

You might think that there’s nothing you can do – maybe it’s ‘an age thing’, or ‘just how you are’ – but like so many things that we might think are beyond our control, there are things you can do to improve memory.

Inside Human Neurology

 

1. Don’t Multi-Task

When we have a lot to do, it can be difficult to focus on just one thing at a time, but focusing on multiple tasks leads to:

  • Having multiple unfinished tasks and nothing completed
  • Forgetting to do some of the tasks because you’re too busy trying to do everything at once
  • Poor quality work
  • Confusion because you keep forgetting what you’re supposed to be doing

It’s much better to focus on one thing at a time – make a to-do list if you need to – but finish each task before moving onto the next one. You’ll find you’re much better at staying on track and remembering what you need to do if you relax and stop trying to do everything all at once ‘while you remember’!

 

2. Get Better Sleep

(See our blog on getting better sleep here)

If you don’t sleep well, your brain won’t function as well. We all know we forget things when we’re tired and groggy, so consistently poor sleep habits are not going to help improve your memory, especially if it’s already a problem.

Most people need about 6-8 hours of sleep per night, and it’s important that it’s good quality sleep. So watch your caffeine intake, and make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, dark and quiet.

 

3. Stimulate Your Brain

If you don’t keep your brain active and challenged, your cognitive function can start to deteriorate – so you’ll find it more difficult to concentrate and remember things.

The good news is, there are plenty of things you can do to stimulate your brain and keep your mind sharp. There are plenty of apps you can get on mobile devices with ‘brain games’ designed to challenge you with logic puzzles. You can also do more conventional puzzles such as sudoku – anything with a logical, problem solving focus.

You will find that if you do these things regularly, you’ll get better at them, and your memory and problem solving abilities will improve.

 

4. Use Mnemonic Devices

The devices we use to teach our children can be used just as effectively by adults to help them remember things:

  • Acronyms – You may have used something like ‘Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain’ to remember the orders of the colours of the rainbow – this is an acronym. You can make one up by using the first letter of each word of whatever it is you need to remember to create a sentence, so that rather than trying to remember something abstract and disjointed, all you need to remember is a simple phrase that can be used as a memory trigger.
  • Visualisations – This technique requires you to imagine yourself in a situation and play through step by step what you did or what you need to do. So if you’ve lost your keys, you might imagine yourself coming home and play in your mind where you might have gone; or if you have to remember a procedure, particularly if you’re good at knowing what to do in the moment but struggle when it comes to explaining the theory, you would imagine yourself in the situation and take yourself through each stage.
  • Rhymes – There’s a reason music and songwriting uses rhyme – it sounds good, and it makes things memorable. You may have learned ‘Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived’ to remember the history of Henry VIII’s marriages – it’s the same basic technique.
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