With ‘Blue Monday’ fast approaching, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services is encouraging us to focus on positive change for 2017.
‘Blue Monday’ is the name given to the Monday that falls in the last full week of January. It’s been suggested this particular day is the most depressing of the year.
However, research shows that it’s not the actual day that gets people down and makes them feel gloomy but simply the shorter days and less sunlight we have in January and throughout the winter months.
Edel Fortune, Day Services Programme Manager at St Patrick’s, says, “New Year should be a time when we think of change, of moving forward and of renewal. It is an ideal opportunity for us to focus on positive changes we can make to ensure we are as healthy and happy as possible.
In order to achieve success we must focus on a few achievable changes that will guarantee we can succeed in becoming as mentally healthy as possible for the coming year.”
7 Steps for Positive Mental Health
1. We don’t need to embark on an all singing, all dancing detox routine which involves preparation, expense and cutting out whole food groups. Instead practice the motto ‘everything in moderation’; cut down on highly processed food e.g. sugar, caffeine, white flour, fizzy drinks and alcohol, and increase your intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and water.
2. Make small changes to how and when we exercise. Pick a time that suits; early morning, lunchtime or evening, and build it into your routine. Keep it simple and achievable, if you are not used to exercise start by walking or swimming. Aim for 10,000 steps per day, you can use a tracker or your phone, or measure it by distance, 10,000 steps is about 5 KM.
3. Sleep is so important. Reduced sleep can be a cause or effect of poor mental health. It is therefore important to focus on a healthy routine by maintaining a regular time to go to bed and get up, relax before bedtime and keep electronic devices out of the bedroom!
4. We all need to take time to ourselves to relax and unwind. When we are very busy it is easy to lose sight of that, so it can be useful to make an appointment with ourselves as part of our day, factor in time to have that bubble bath, watch a favourite TV programme, catch up with friends or just ‘be’.
5. New Year is an ideal time to assess where we are in life; renewal and rebirth can apply to anything including our work, relationships or health. If there is an aspect of your life that you feel needs attention;
- Write down what the problem is.
- Make 2 lists, one list of the benefits of making a change, the other list is the negative impact that change may have e.g. if you want to change job the pros may include: more job satisfaction, more opportunities etc., but the cons may include; less money, longer hours.
- Once you have your list you can weigh up the pros and cons and decide which will influence your decision.
- Then, break down the transition into small achievable steps; do your research, and be as informed as possible before making any major changes and give yourself a realistic timeframe.
6. Spot the signs. One in four of us will experience a mental health difficulty at some point in our lives. Signs that everything is not ok include;
· not sleeping,
· racing thoughts,
· overindulging in alcohol or food,
· feeling very sad, tearful or suicidal.
7. Seek help. Why not make 2017 the year that you decide to prioritise your mental health? The sooner we get the help we need, the quicker the difficulty can be resolved.
Confide in someone- talk to a close friend or family member, it often helps to put things in perspective if you talk it through. See your GP and he or she can advise on the best course of action or contact a Support Service.
St Patrick’s Support and information line is staffed by experienced mental health nurses who can advise on any mental health concern you or someone close to you may be experiencing. The Support and information Service can be reached on 01 249 3333 or firstname.lastname@example.org