Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and the theme this year was Nature and connecting with nature to improve your mental health. Our mental health includes our emotional psychological and social well-being. I feel as though when I was at school the importance of mental health and maintaining good mental health was not emphasised enough. Now as an adult, I hear people openly talking about their mental health as well as advocating for good mental health and how to maintain good mental health. I would like to share with you things that have worked well for me which are worth a try even if you feel as though you have excellent mental health.
Get a therapist
As daunting as getting a therapist may be a therapist can support you when you would like to learn about yourself, achieve goals, have more fulfilling relationships and overall improvement in all areas of your life. It can help if you are experiencing issues, which are making stressed, anxious and depressed.
Here are a few techniques to help you find a therapist:
- Different therapists use different techniques, you will need to find what therapeutic techniques suits you, this will help you narrow down the therapists when looking for one. An examples a technique is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is a talking therapy to help manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. An integrative therapist is one that draws on different techniques to help you approach your issues.
- Budget- The pricing of therapy varies, a trainee therapist can cost around £15.00-£20.00, a therapist who is a supervisor can cost over £50.00. Some therapist’s subsidise for students or those on low income. If you can’t afford a therapists and are experiencing issues which is affecting your day to day life, you can speak to your GP and self-refer yourself for therapy. Another way of getting free therapy is if your employer has an employee wellbeing scheme, this will require you to contact the wellbeing services and self-refer. Other things which affect the price include whether it is online or face to face and how many sessions you would like.
- You can find a therapist through a number of different websites these include:
The Black, African and Asian therapy network: https://www.baatn.org.uk/
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy: https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists
UK Council for Psychotherapy: https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/
Remember you are not glued to the first therapist you speak to. If you have your first session and feel as though they are not for you, politely let the therapist know and change to a new one. You can try as many therapist as you like until you find the one that is for you. Keep in mind that some let you have the first session free and some charge.
I have only started journaling this year and it has honestly changed my life. Journaling is the practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings. It is a form of self-help and can help you become more self-aware, feel more in control of your feelings, offload negative feelings, realise goals and help you develop an understanding of yourself and more compassion to have with yourself.
I use two techniques of journaling, the first technique is one that I use when I am feeling overwhelmed or negative. I give myself 10 minutes to write down all of my thoughts and feelings, I use the paper as a brain dump. When the 10 minutes is up, I rip up the piece of paper. The feeling of ripping up the piece of paper feels as if I am releasing the negativity energy and it is quiet therapeutic.
The second technique is using a wellness journal from www.papier.com. In the morning after I have meditated, I write down my intentions for the day, how I slept, what meals I would like to eat, my activities for the day and my self-care for the day. In the evening before bed, I conclude with what went well, any thoughts and feelings and what I am grateful for that day. The journal also includes goal setting, a gratitude list, a self-care brainstorm and much more. I find this type of journaling much more forward thinking, outcome orientated and positive, I look forward writing every morning and evening. Although I have touched upon these two techniques of journaling through research online, you can find a technique that works for you, as there are so many different types.
Move your body
It is proven that 30 minutes regular exercise everyday can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression, improve your mood, and make you feel good overall as well as the physical benefits of exercising for the body. Moving your body, does not have to feel like a chore, dance workouts are particularly fun and cost nothing. I have recently tried meditation combined with yoga or just meditation by itself. I meditate using an app called ‘Insight Timer’, this includes a 7-day tutorial on how to meditate, another app that is useful is ‘Headspace’, and it is also available on Netflix. Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube is particularly good and has helped me learn different breath work techniques and yoga moves.
Talk to others
A problem shared is a problem halved, as cliché as this may sounds it is very true. You would be surprised at how many people go through similar issues and problems that you are experiencing. Opening up to family and friends about how you feel can be hard however, these are people who love and care about you. If you are struggling to open up to a loved one as suggested earlier a therapist may be more helpful. They can also help you with speaking to a loved one as long as you are comfortable.
Touching on nature
As this year’s theme is nature, I thought I would share how I like to touch on nature to improve my mental health. I love going on walks, I literally feel the good endorphins in my body doing so. Sometimes I like to walk from my house to a family or friend’s house, in a park and in my neighbourhood. Walking is particularly nice when you have someone with you, you can have a catch-up with a friend and grab some nice food and drinks to enjoy whilst on your walk. Taking pictures of nature using my phone or Instax Mini is another way of connecting with nature. Another way of connecting with nature is by having my houseplants and a pet cat, I feel like taking care of the plants is therapeutic and I love tracking there growth. My pet cat Monsoon keeps me thoroughly entertained and it is nice to have company the house.