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Home — Self-Care: Prioritising Mental Health in Your Daily Life
16 May 2023
Self-Care: Prioritising Mental Health in Your Daily Life
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Air Ambulance Week
It is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is anxiety. According to the Health and Safety Executive, an estimated 822,000 workers are affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety every year. It can affect us all, but in different ways.
You may have difficulty sleeping, struggle to concentrate, or notice your heart rate increasing. So much of what may trigger anxiety is not within our control, but it’s important to try to recognise and respond when you feel anxious so that it does not become overwhelming.
The shift from the two years of covid to a surging cost-of-living crisis has undoubtedly made it more challenging to take the time to focus on self-care and prioritise our mental health – with more than a third of adults feeling anxious about their financial situation (according to the Mental Health Foundation). That said, there is a growing realisation that managing our mental health is just as important as our physical wellbeing, and that’s precisely why this week is so important, providing opportunities to reflect on how we can make small changes in our everyday lives that will make a positive difference now and in the future.
Our top tips for managing anxiety
Below, we look at just a few steps you can take to ease your anxiety levels and practice self-care. We also detail some of the steps Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) is taking to help patients, families, crew and colleagues manage any anxiety and prioritise their mental health.
Being active and exercising doesn’t necessarily mean pushing yourself hard at the gym – it can be something as simple as enjoying a brisk walk in the park or trying out yoga. The key is to get your body moving. Exercising outdoors helps to boost serotonin levels, which promotes feelings of happiness and relaxation. Even just a few minutes of your day can make a big difference.
We all feel better after a good night’s rest. It is vital to staying healthy, however, anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping issues. Excess worry makes it more difficult to fall asleep, but there are some simple actions that can encourage better sleep and help your body get the rest it needs to flourish. Meditating before bed can help you ease your thoughts and settle your body, bringing sleep on gradually and naturally. You may also want to try sticking to a regular bedtime routine and avoiding screentime during the evening – which is something we’re all guilty of. Remember, the blue light emitted by your device will always work against you, making it harder for you to relax and switch off.
Developing a conscious mindset creates balance and peace. By taking a few minutes to be present in the moment, focusing on your breathing and observing each inhalation and exhalation, you can gain greater awareness of your body and any areas that may need relaxation or attention. Whenever your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to breathing.
Spark Social Connections
Having a strong support system is essential for our mental health. Connecting with friends and family or joining a local group can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and help provide an outlet for when times are tough. If you can talk to people about how you feel and express your worries aloud, you can diminish the hold these negative feelings have on you, providing a sense of relief and empowerment.
What we eat impacts how we feel, so how can we ensure we are getting the nutrients our body needs? Generally speaking, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats contributes to a balanced nutritional intake. At the same time, making conscious choices can help prevent reliance on unhealthy substances.
For example, the caffeine in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can negatively affect mood and sleep patterns, so it’s best to consume these in moderation to minimise sleep disruptions and mood fluctuations. You certainly don’t have to feel guilty for savouring indulgent treats, but enjoying them in balanced moderation will help you feel more energised.
We often feel overwhelmed in our daily lives, so it’s vital to step back, set boundaries and stick to them. This means understanding your limits and speaking up when those lines feel blurred. Learning to say ‘no’ can be tricky at times, but doing so can be powerful and rewarding – especially in terms of protecting your mental wellbeing and maintaining healthy relationships with family, partners, friends or colleagues.
Explore Creative Pursuits
Expressing ourselves creatively can bring us joy and help us to stay connected to our inner selves. Whether painting, writing, playing an instrument, baking or making music, taking time out of your day to explore your creative side can help boost your mood and bring a sense of achievement.
At EHAAT, we’re proud to have a growing army of volunteers playing a crucial role in raising awareness of our life-saving work across Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. From learning new skills to gaining confidence, boosting self-esteem and making new connections, you can be a part of a supportive and compassionate community while positively impacting the lives of those in need. When you volunteer for a charity close to your heart, you encourage feelings of purpose, meaning and satisfaction, which can counteract any feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Nurturing Mental Wellness: EHAAT’s Approach
We place a strong emphasis on the wellbeing and mental health of patients, families, crew, volunteers, the wider team and supporters. To create a nurturing environment on all fronts, we have developed a wellbeing working group represented by all teams within EHAAT. This group collaborates to shape strategies and initiatives that improve and support wellbeing across the charity, recognising all team members are unique, with diverse needs and experiences. We are also proud to announce that we are training our first cohort as Mental Health First Aiders next week, with another course planned for September.
“By equipping our team members with the necessary skills and knowledge, we aim to create a supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking help and support when needed.” Helen Grace, People Manager
Empowering Understanding and Support for Patients and Families
Our patient and family liaison clinicians are highly sensitive to the fact that many of our patients, their friends and families may have been faced with a significant life-changing event that can lead to anxiety, or the incident may have been the result of mental illness. As we’ve highlighted above, anxiety can manifest in many ways and being able to recognise this, and support people through this can be a great help.
Our Patient & Family Liaison Team attentively listens to patients and their families. They take the time to understand their needs and strive to offer close support as part of the comprehensive aftercare we provide. We also recognise that navigating the healthcare landscape can be overwhelming, which is why we are committed to guiding individuals towards services that can genuinely benefit them.
We hope this article serves as a valuable resource, shedding light on the importance of prioritising mental health. You can find further resources for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 here, including reports, articles and downloadable resources.
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