We asked you what steps you take to improve your mental health and you responded in kind. Whether you experience depression, anxiety, stress-related illness or other challenges, below are some suggestions you might want to explore.
‘I listen out for the warning signs’
‘I don’t take my mental health for granted. I’ve had periods of my life when I’ve struggled to cope. Now I listen out for the warning signs. If I start to struggle I explore the strategies that I know work for me. I find exercise really helpful. It gives me an opportunity to shut the world off for a bit, clean the cobwebs out and think clearly about what’s troubling me and what the solutions may be.’ Matthew Hodson, Executive Director, aidsmap
‘Open air walking’ GZ
‘Before going to sleep, I turn my phone off and spend a good 30/60 minutes practicing mindfulness by watching and listening to ASMR videos on YouTube. ASMR videos use sounds, or even role play, to promote calm and relaxation.’ Dan Beeson
‘Love can help a lot. But learning to accept yourself is what is most important.
For me, music and singing helps me calm down from anxiety.’ AAM
‘I take psychiatric medication and get counseling 1-2 days a week – I have SMI [Serious Mental Illness], and it is manageable, it just takes a lot of work.’ Dean Manning
‘I bake something every weekend. During the week, I tend to fall back on convenience food, so the simple act of cooking feels like I’m taking care of myself.
‘I know it might sound odd, but I feel my mood go down if a weekend passes and I feel I’ve not done anything with it, and baking something – cake or whatever – just seems to help keep that feeling at bay. I feel like I’ve produced something. Regular exercise also helps.’ DH
‘Switching off from social media apps really helps my anxieties’
‘I find switching off from social media apps really helps my anxieties. I use the app Quality Time to help me keep an eye on how much I use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram every day. Our obsession with these apps often comes from the dopamine release we get from each like, share and reaction.
‘When you learn to pick up the notifications when you want, rather than them interrupting your day; you get an element of control back. It really helps me manage my anxieties and have a healthier, happier relationship with social media platforms.’ JW
‘Family and the support of consistent, compassionate friends is important. Regular physical exercise not only builds physical resilience but underpins mental resilience. Regular meditation practice is vital and may in turn reveal wounds and trauma that could be addressed via therapy. It’s also important to make a note of online and telephone support such as Mind and Samaritans for periods of crisis.
‘It’s important to recognize without judgment that all human beings experience variable states of being, there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed. When this happens we may withdraw and shut down, instead we should be reaching for help in whatever form we can access.’ Shaun Dellenty, Positive LGBT+ inclusion advocate
‘Celebrate the small victories’
‘Getting to a counselor or psychologist will do you wonders almost instantly.
‘But if you’re not able to get help just yet, remember to celebrate the small victories: You got out of bed today? Amazing! You managed a shower and a change of clothes? You’re brilliant!
‘And if you can get out and do a quick walk around the block, you’ll feel like you’ve conquered Mt Everest.’ Shannon Power
‘Reminding myself that I can’t always make other people happy is important. Trying not to please too many people too much of the time is good for my mental health. I’m a people pleaser and it’s just exhausting.’ DK
‘Music, gaming, shopping for yourself, watching what interests you, everything depending on what you love to do.’ Shayne Kevin
‘Meditation. I also don’t try to change what I cannot.’ Susan Seales
‘I try to live my life as I did at the point I think I was most happy’
‘There is no quick, single fix. Talking to friends has not worked for me because of the shame of drug addiction and depression, and I feel they are not qualified to deal with it.
‘To deal with my mental health and improve it I talk to my doctor every quarter. I have had counseling three times in three years to deal with specific issues.
‘I go to a self-help group to deal with my drug addiction of which I am now seven months in recovery. Ultimately, I try to live my life as I did at the point I think I was most happy. I work out what was rewarding and got/get rid of all the negatives. I work in a job I now love; whereas I hated my previous employers.
‘I meet up with friends and go out for meals, cinema, events, theatre, talks. Which is what I did before I fell foul of the “black dog.” I do not unburden myself with my friends. That’s between me and the professionals.
‘I go to the gym to remain healthy, not to make myself look attractive. I eat clean, i.e. no processed meals, therefore, avoiding excess sugar, salts and preservatives, and finally I write about my past life experiences in diary/blog form about an hour a day.’ Roger Taylor-Brown
‘When I’m having a bad day, I’ll always go for a walk whether in one of the parks or the woods I live near. Surrounding myself with nature forces my brain to ground itself, which in the process allows me to take a moment to calm. I’m then able to sit down, do a few breathing exercises and think through my problems in a relaxing setting.’ Charlie Mathers
‘Anything to physically change my surroundings will have a knock on effect on my mental wellbeing’
‘The more I’ve experienced depression and anxiety, the easier it is becoming to recognize the signs. I’m getting more aware of an encroaching period of doom and fear – and I’ve discovered, quite organically, a few tools to try to fend off the beast.
‘Very quickly changing my environment is the basis of those tools. If I’m inside, go outside. If I’m in an open space, get somewhere more secure. Jump in a shower, put on some loud music – anything to physically change my surroundings will have a knock on effect on my mental wellbeing.
‘Transcendental meditation on a twice-daily basis helps raise the base level of my general day to day well-being. But there is one absolute, fail safe remedy for the blues in my house: Gotta Go Home by Boney M, at full volume! Sorry neighbors.’ Tom Urie