We all know how important it is to look after our physical health in order to stay fit and well. Taking care of our mental wellbeing is just as important.
"Wellbeing" comprises two main elements: feeling good and functioning well. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enjoyment, curiosity and engagement are characteristic of someone who has a positive experience of their life. Equally important for wellbeing is our functioning in the world. Experiencing positive relationships, having some control over one’s life and having a sense of purpose are all important attributes of wellbeing. The New Economics Foundation have identified five ways we can take care of our mental wellbeing. To read more about the Five Ways to Wellbeing, click the tab on the left.
Sometimes, our problems become more difficult to manage and the symptoms continue at a level that begins to impact on our daily lives. This is when the additional support of our GP, health professional or a specialist may be required. There is lots of help and support available for those experiencing symptoms and their carers, from national charities to local service. To find local healp and support, click the tab on the left.
The New Economics Foundation have identified "Five Ways to Wellbeing". These five tips can help us feel good and function well.
Connect with the people around you. with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the corner of your life and invest time in developing them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Social relationships are critical to our wellbeing. Survey research has found that well-being is increased by life goals associated with family, friends, social and political life and decreased by goals associated with career success and material gains.
Go for a walk or a run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and one that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
Exercise has been shown to increase mood and has been used successfully to lower rates of depression and anxiety. Being active also develops the motor skills of children and protects against cognitive decline in the elderly.
Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the usual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
In the US, research has shown that practising awareness of sensations, thoughts and feelings can improve both the knowledge we have about ourselves and our well-being.
Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Learning encourages social interaction and increases self-esteem and feelings of competency. Behaviour directed by personal goals to achieve something new has been shown to increase reported life satisfaction.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Studies in neuroscience have shown that cooperative behaviour activates reward areas of the brain, suggesting we are hard wired to enjoy helping one another. Individuals actively engaged in their communities report higher well-being and their help and gestures have knock-on effects for others. But it is not simply about a one-way transaction of giving.
At any one time, one in six of us will be experiencing a mental health issue.This means there are thousands of people in Greater Manchester who are living with, or caring for someone with a mental health condition.
Mental health disorders take many different forms and affect people in different ways.Common mental health problems are those that most people experience such as depression, anxiety, panic, sleep problems, obsessions and compulsions or phobias. Serious mental illnesses are less common and include psychoses, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, severe depression and dementia.
To find out more about mental health conditions visit the NHS Choices website.
If you, a friend or relative need urgent help, the Samaritans can help. They provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day.
I left my last job several months ago due to depression. I feel a lot better now and am hoping to get back into the job market but I’m worried that if an employer finds out about my illness it will count against me. Do I need to tell them?
Unfortunately you find yourself in a position that is all too common nowadays. There is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding about depression and other mental health problems, even though they are remarkably common. Fortunately employers are becoming more enlightened and it is now illegal to discriminate against people on health grounds.
Looking at your problem in particular, I think honesty is the best policy. That doesn’t mean that you have to advertise your difficulties, or immediately announce it at the interview. But if asked you could say that you have been unwell, that you have been helped by your doctor and that you are now well on your way to recovery.
It is clearly going to be difficult to deal with the more unscrupulous employers, who use pre-interview screening questionnaires to discriminate against those with previous health problems.
But it is better to fight this unfairness head on, rather that to lie and then worry endlessly over whether you are going tobe found out. In any case, would you want to work for an employer with those kind of attitudes? You can comfort yourself that they have missed out on a really valuable asset.
To read more from the experts, visit page 10 of October 2008's Supplement. (PDF 1.5 MB)