Category: Mental Health (page 1 of 12)

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.

 

Seize the Reins! How To Take Control of Your Life

Life is scary.

Often it can seem like so much is beyond our control, that there are so many things we ‘have to’ do and it can feel like we’re not the driving force behind our own lives.

Luckily, there are some simple behaviours you can adopt to take control of your life!

Take the wheel: Learn to take control of your life

Take the wheel: Learn to take control of your life

 

Treat Yourself As You Would Treat A Friend

We’re often much kinder to our friends than we are to ourselves: we’re much more likely to say ‘it’s not your fault’ or ‘everything’s going to be alright’ to other people. We also tend to give our friends good advice, and help them to follow it, whereas with our own lives we tend to either ignore or be blind to the best course of action.

This is because when it comes to our friends’ lives, we’re not ruled by our emotions. We can offer an objective viewpoint that allows us to assess the situation and find the best solution to a problem.

But when it comes to our own lives, our emotions – fear, anger, desire – can overrule our rational minds, meaning that even if we somehow manage to discern our best options, we go against our own advice because of what feels good at the time.

Treating our problems like they’re our friends can be a helpful way of taking back control over our emotions. If you can learn to address them by stopping and imagining that the problem is happening to a friend, then imagine what advice you would give them as an objective party, you can help determine the best course of action.

 

Say “No”.

There’s often an immense pressure to do every favour people ask of you, particularly if you’re put on the spot. The problem is, once you say “yes” a few times, people come to expect it of you. You can become forced into the role of event organiser for your friends and colleagues, or being the one who always takes on the extra hours or projects at work. People start to assume that you’ll do it, and the pressure can build.

Try and remember that you have the right to say “no”, even if you said “yes” in the past. You don’t have to justify “why not” and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

It’s fine to do favours for your friends, or take on extra work once in a while, but once it becomes expected of you, these things are no longer favours or extras – they’re just additional stress.

Once people accept that you will say both “yes” and “no”, they will keep asking, but will accept your decision making. Plus, you’ll come across as more confident, which is a big bonus.

 

Do The Most Important Tasks First

We almost never wake up with just one thing we need to accomplish in a day, and sometimes it can be tempting to put off the more challenging or highest pressure tasks until ‘later’.

However, our energy wanes as the day goes on, and this can mean either that ‘later’ never comes, or the task takes even longer and is even harder because we’re tired by the time we get to it. This can leave us feeling like we’ve not achieved anything at the end of the day, or that we’ve not worked hard enough. Getting into a cycle of good intentions and then failing to meet them can be hugely damaging for our confidence and mood.

A good way of combatting this is by writing a To-Do List first thing in the morning, and organising your tasks in order of priority, with a section of those which can wait until tomorrow if necessary. Do the most important first, then work your way down the list in order. That way, the most important things get done when your motivation and concentration is at its best, and if you don’t finish the list, it’s only the things that can wait that have been left out.

Doing this will mean that you’re more likely to go to bed feeling accomplished and capable, which in turn will spur you on for the next day.

 

Don’t Obsess About Other People’s Opinions

Some people will like you. Some people won’t.

It can be tempting to focus on those who don’t like us – we might ask ourselves why, or try to change their opinion. But this is largely pointless as a course of action, and is a huge waste of energy.

Consider someone you don’t like. If they went out of their way to try and make you like them, you would more than likely find it irritating and off-putting. This is because we can’t force people to change their minds about us, and sycophantic behaviour is generally considered a trait associated with weakness of character, which is hardly appealing.

Yes, sometimes someone may change their mind about you, but if it’s going to happen, it will happen organically and not through a forced attempt on your part.

Try to accept that there will be people who don’t like you – more often than not, it’s not because you’re a bad person, and it’s not even a reflection on your character. Everyone has different personalities and not all gel well together, and that’s okay.

And anyway, wouldn’t the world be a very boring place if everybody was the same?

 

Take Some ‘Me Time’

Life today is very busy – almost all of us have very full schedules of work commitments, family events and social ties, which can leave very little time for us to take time for ourselves.

Set aside some time each week that’s just for you to do whatever helps you unwind – yoga, sports, art, music – it doesn’t matter what the activity is, just make sure that you do it.

Taking time for yourself gives yourself time to think and focus on what you want without being distracted by the demands of everybody else around you. This is vital to taking control of your life, because how can you take control if you don’t know what you really want?

It’s easy to become convinced that what we want is what other people expect when we’re around them, but when you’re doing something that’s just for you, you have the time to reflect without all the external pressures and make decisions for yourself.

Plus, taking time for yourself will help reduce your stress and anxiety levels!

5 Things That Make Anxiety Worse

With anxiety affecting up to 16% of the population at any one time, and most of us at one time or other in our lives, it’s important to realise that our gut reactions to anxious thoughts aren’t always the best things for us.

5 Things That Make Anxiety Worse

  1. Trying to stop the thoughts – Trying not to think about it will only draw attention to the thing that makes you anxious. Saying to yourself ‘don’t think about x’ will only bring ‘x’ to the forefront of your mind. Instead, try accepting and acknowledging your anxious thoughts, and try to be okay with their presence.Man pressed between two walls. Concept of oppression, anxiety
  2. Avoiding the things that make you anxious – If, for example, social situations make you anxious, it’s tempting to avoid them altogether, but that’s actually counterproductive. If you get into the habit of avoiding the things that make you anxious, it reinforces the idea that there’s something to be afraid of. It’s far better to face your fear and prove to yourself that your fears are unfounded – if you go to that party, nothing bad is going to happen!Woman In Depressed Mood Sits On The Window
  3. Unhealthy coping mechanisms – The phrase ‘Dutch Courage’ comes to mind here. If you’re nervous about something, it can be tempting to have a drink to steady your nerves. Other people might have a cigarette to calm themselves down. But regardless of the negative impact these have on our health, they can actually make your anxiety worse in the long run. If you use alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, etc., as a coping mechanism for your anxiety, you essentially create a psychological crutch which you will come to rely on – and you’ll be less able to cope with your anxiety without your crutch.anxious woman hiding under a pillow, lying on her bed
  4. Isolating yourself or moping – It’s tempting when we’re anxious to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world, but when we do that we’re also shutting ourselves off from the things that can help make us feel better. If you’re alone, you will focus on the things that are making you feel bad, but if you’re with friends or doing an activity, you have something else to focus your mind and energy on. Plus exercise and positive social interactions encourage the production of those chemicals in the brain that make you feel good, helping to overcome that anxiety chemically.Panic business concept psychological health
  5. Unnatural breathing – Panic attacks are often accompanied with hyperventilation or heavy breathing, but it’s a two way street. If you start to hyperventilate or breath heavily, you’ll panic more because you’ll start to think that you can’t breathe normally. Instead concentrate on taking steady, controlled breaths to try and return your breathing to normal. This will help slow your heart rate and calm you down.

Young Minds Matter: Are We Neglecting the Mental Health of Children and Young People?

child depression

 

These statistics are unsettling.

10% of children will experience a mental health problem, but it most cases, intervention comes much later than it should.

There are obvious speculations to be made about why this is – often children’s responses to mental health problems get dismissed as mere ‘naughtiness’ until the behavioural pattern becomes significant (or even dangerous) enough to warrant escalation by teachers or parents.

So What Are The Risk Factors?

  • Long term illness
  • Parents with a history of mental health problems, alcohol or substance abuse, or problems with the law
  • The death of someone close to them
  • Parents’ divorce or separation
  • Being a victim of bullying
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Living in poverty
  • Experiencing discrimination for their race, religion or sexuality
  • Being a carer, or having other adult responsibilities
  • Prolonged educational difficulties

This list is, of course, not exhaustive, and it is not to say that children who don’t experience these things don’t develop mental health problems.

Monochrome portrait of a sad and lonely girl crying with a hand covering her face (with space for text)

What Are The Most Common Mental Health Problems in Children?

Children and young people can develop any of the same conditions that adults can, but there are some which have proved prevalent among children and young people. The following list contains some (though not all) of the most common, along with warning signs to look out for.

  • Depression – as with adults, children with depression may withdraw from social activities, or experience difficulty concentrating in school (sometimes resulting in a dip in grades)
  • Self-Harm – particularly common in teenagers, they may cut, scratch or burn themselves (often on the arms or legs)
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder – children may become reluctant to do particular activities, have difficulty concentrating, or become more fidgety or agitated
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – usually a response to a traumatic event or experience, which can be anything from a death in the family to abuse
  • Eating Disorders – this can be purposely under-eating, over-eating, or purging. Look out for secrecy about food habits (either secret eating or hiding uneaten food), anxiety at meal times, or rapid weight loss or gain.

 

10 Top Tips for Dealing with Exam Stress

Tired College Student Girl Studying For University Exam Worried

Thousands of university students across the country are preparing for their exams. It’s, understandably, a very stressful time, but what can students do to help keep on top of their stress an anxiety?

  1. Eat Well: A balanced diet keeps your body healthy, and is vital for you to perform at your best.
  2. Get Enough Sleep: You need a full night’s sleep (about 8 hours) for your brain to function properly.
  3. Learn to Recognise When You’re Stressed: If you can be aware of when your stress is starting to become a problem, you can take steps to control it before it gets out of hand.
  4. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others: Everyone is different – not only will everyone get different results, everyone studies differently as well. What other people are doing doesn’t matter. Focus instead on what’s best for you and doing your best.
  5. Exercise: Not only does exercise provide a welcome break from studying, it produces chemicals that help combat stress and leave you feeling positive.

Tired Student Surrounded By Books

 

6. Take Regular Breaks: Your brain can only focus for so long in one go. Take regular short breaks every 40 minutes or so, with longer breaks every few hours. Scheduling time where it’s ok to check social media (i.e. in your short breaks) will also make you less likely to procrastinate – bonus!

7. Don’t Get Drawn In To Exam Post-Mortem: Worrying about what’s already happened won’t change it. Focus on moving forward – think about what’s coming next rather than dwelling on the past.

8. Lay off the Caffeine: Stimulants such as caffeine can increase your heart rate and contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

9.Take Steps to Overcome Problems: Instead of panicking about something you don’t understand, ask for help! If you’re having problems, ask a friend or tutor to go through the course material with you. People would far rather see you succeed – help is there if you only ask!

10. Talk to Someone!: If you’re feeling stressed and struggling to cope, please do talk to someone – a friend, family member, or a counsellor. Most universities have student support service, and are well-equipped and experienced at helping students cope with exam stress.

That last point is perhaps the most important – it’s okay (and indeed, it’s the smart thing to do) to ask for help if you need it.

Good luck in your exams!

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