In the UK one in six adults experience a common mental health problem every week and sadly suicide is now the biggest killer of young men. It is now more important than ever that we all have a better understanding of this issue that affects so many of us. By taking a proactive approach to tackling this problem we can help ourselves, our friends, our family and our colleagues to live happier lives and even save lives.
My experience of depression
I myself suffered from an episode of severe depression many years ago which had a significant impact on my personality and my relationships at the time. The thought of it coming back really frightens me so I purposely engage in behaviours that help reduce the risk of my depression coming back. It has now been seven years since I last suffered from depression so I wanted to share with you the three significant behaviours that I changed to manage my own mental health.
Now some of you reading this may be thinking that exercising every day is not good for you. However, I’m not talking about going to the gym every day, doing a HIIT class or engaging in high impact activities like running. I do run and I do go to the gym but not every day but what I do every day is walk. Any chance I get I sneak off to clock up some steps. I don’t walk to get fit or to lose weight I walk because I know my day is better when walking is part of it. Personally I like to start my day with it as it clears my mind and gives me a really positive start to the day. I feel energised by it and I’m more productive once I’ve been for a walk. I also know whatever else happens that day at least I got my walk in. I also like to listen to podcasts and audiobooks whilst walking which I struggle to do when running hard or lifting weights. Find some light exercise you enjoy doing, and do it every day, such as:
In the past when I became too busy with work I would not find the time to see my family, my friends and would be so focussed on getting work done that I would pretend to listen to my colleagues and continue with my work. Little did I know that those actions and my lack of physical activity were leading me into a pit of depression. You can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely. I was was definitely lonely. I now make time to see my friends, my family and have quality time with my other half. Things I do now that I did not do before:
- Ring friends for a chat
- Meet friends for coffees
- Drop-in on my parents
- Arrange baby sitters for monthly date nights
- Talk to strangers
- Hike with friends
- Camp with friends
- Ask for help
Manage your stress
Some stress is unavoidable and even necessary but a lot of things that contribute towards chronic stress are within our control. In the past when I was offered work I would never turn it down. I figured that the work may not be available again so I better say yes while it is available. I would get busier and busier and eventually have an unmanageable amount of work which meant I was experiencing work-related stress and as I didn’t have time to exercise or connect with anyone it snowballed and turned into severe depression. I also use to catastrophise a lot and think the worst-case scenario was always likely. So what do I do differently now:
- Say NO! If I have enough work then I do not take on more than I can manage.
- I prioritise exercise and train first thing in the morning so if my day becomes busy or something unexpected comes up my training does not get neglected.
- I challenge my thoughts on how likely the worst-case scenario is, it usually isn’t that likely, and I ask myself can I handle the worst-case scenario, the answer is always YES!
- If I can help it I don’t watch or listen to anything or anyone that I believe brings negativity into my life.
Just remember we work to live, we don’t live to work. Time is a commodity you cant buyback so if you’re unhappy with work then take it from me your better off making some changes before it is too late. I know from my own experience that stress can lead to severe depression so I do everything I can to manage this.
Level 2 Award in mental health awareness
In the next few weeks, I will be releasing a new nationally accredited qualification called a level 2 award in mental health awareness. If you want to have more awareness of your mental health and the mental health of those around you, and how to offer support to those that need it, then register your interest via the form below and I will contact you with more information.
Stay safe, stay positive and stay active 💪