Mental health issues such as anxiety and stress are currently rife in the UK’s workforce. In 2019, 602,000 people suffered from new or long-standing stress, depression, or anxiety according to a Labour Force Survey. This equates to 1,800 in every 100,000 workers suffering from work-related mental health issues, which led to 12.8 million working days being lost. Although stress, depression, and anxiety are more prevalent in public service industries, it can affect anyone in any sector. With Stress Awareness Month in April, we take a look at how best to calm your body and mind naturally outside of your working environment.
If you’re forutnate enough to have an outdoor space, taking part in gardening can be a great boost to your mind and body. If not, why not look into renting an allotment space? Gardening is a less strenuous form of exercise and, according to Mind, helps improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and enhances your confidence. It is also a great way to provide peer support to those who you may know you need it. Why not use some garden tools and grow some crocus bulbs and make it a hobby? It could be a great activity for friends or family and can be enjoyed by all ages.
Journaling is an under-estimated way to change your focus. Instead of focusing on the negatives, why not bring the positive aspects to the forefront? Write down whatever your grateful for in a journal and you can help to shift your attention away from little things that are causing stress. Well-being coaches often say that you should try to have a ‘positive’ day where you don’t complain about anything. Doing so could enhance your positivity levels and leave you in a better frame of mind.
One of the most popular and best-known ways to calm yourself, is to meditate. Stereotypically, those who meditate are perceived as being calm and collective. This is because practicing meditation techniques can lower your stress levels and release any pressure you may be feeling. Simple exercises, such as taking a deep breath and holding it for a little while before you exhale, are proven to lower stress in the body. There are many breathing exercises you can undergo to help relieve pressure, with the University of Michigan’s medicine department providing a great list.
We all indulge in a pizza, a portion of chips, or a huge slice of cake now and again. However, doing so in moderation is crucial to your wellbeing, both physically and mentally. Studies have found that poor physical health and can affect your mental health. A review in 2014 stated that children and adolescents who have a high intake of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and processed food products are more likely to suffer from poorer mental health.
Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg every day as they are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. We also know that fibre and protein are important to a healthy diet, and that all types of fat should be eating sparingly. But, if you are unsure of which foods should make it into your weekly shop, check out the NHS’s handy Eatwell Guide.
You need to speak up if you’re struggling. If the issue is causing anxiety or stress, talking to others can be a great way to alleviate the pressure you are feeling. A great place to start is a family member or close acquaintance. Recently, in English football’s FA Cup, third-round ties kicked off one minute later than usual as part of the Head Up campaign which encouraged fans to think about looking after their mental health.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Whilst delaying kick-off times by 60 seconds is a simple idea, it provides a powerful platform for us and our Heads Up charity partners to deliver a really important message on mental health. We know that men in particular can be reluctant to talk about the subject, so it is important that we use football as a vehicle to stress the importance of mental fitness.”
Fortunately, there are plenty of other charities out there who can help too, including Mind, Anxiety UK, and Young Minds, while the NHS can also provide help and assistance.
There are many other methods to help calm your body and mind. It’s key to remember that each technique may have differing results for each individual. However, it’s crucial to look after your mental and physical health both in your personal life and workspace.