This current era has been described as a mental health crisis. We are seeing high rates of unemployment, soaring costs of bills, meanwhile incomes are becoming stagnant. The winter months are dark and gloomy and the less said about the pandemic the better. As mental health diagnoses rise, the NHS mental health helpline as seen a record-breaking 3 million calls. These times are unprecedented, meaning we need to find new and innovative ways to maintain our wellbeing, in addition to knowing where to look for effective support.
It is a brand-new year, and time for new beginning. Vytaliving are dedicated ,to helping you to make 2022 your best year of wellbeing yet. You can find the rest of the articles in the Full Body MOT series on the Vytaliving site. This article covers, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Mental and Emotional Wellbeing and tips and tricks for better wellbeing.Common Mental Health Problems
- ¼ people have experienced a mental health problem of some kind each year in England
- On an average week the following diagnoses were given:
- Mixed Anxiety and Depression – 8/100 people
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder – 6/100 people
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder- 4/100 people
- Depression – 3/100 people
- Panic Disorder- 1 in 100 people
- Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 3/100 people in the UK at some point in their life.
What Can You Do To Support Your Mental Health?
You are what you eat is a saying that can be applied to mental wellbeing nutrition. Studies have demonstrated the link between what we eat, and our mood. Featuring Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, and Probiotics.
Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin. This is because the body’s main source is sunshine. During the winter months getting our daily dose of vitamin D is not always possible. This is thought to lead to the onset of seasonal affective disorder or winter depression. Multiple studies have found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and seasonal depression. The UK government recommends that every adult in the Uk should take a minimum of 400iu/10mcg of Vitamin D per day to maintain overall health and to help with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
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Vitamin B6 has the approved health claim to ‘contribute to normal psychological function'. Vitamin B6 acts as a cofactor for the conversion of mood enhancing hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. Without sufficient Vitamin B6 this conversion is not possible.
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Pre- and Probiotics
Recent research has suggested that our gut is associated with our mood and mood disorders. A 2020 study published by the British Medical Journal suggested that Probiotics or combined with prebiotics may help ease depression. An initial review of 7 studies, some featured probiotic strains included Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidium. Although the studies design varied the agreed outcomes suggested the same, that probiotic supplements either alone or in combination with prebiotics may be linked to measurable reductions in depression. Every study showed a significant fall or improvement in anxiety symptoms.
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Improvements in mood occur via a biochemical pathway in the brain. During exercise, serotonin is stimulated. Serotonin is known as the ‘happy hormone’. Moreover, this inhibits stress hormone production such as adrenaline and cortisol. Thus, reducing the feelings of anxiety and poor mood. This elation of mood is often called ‘runners high’ or the ‘post-gym buzz.’ In addition, regular exercise increases endorphin release. The role of endorphins within the body is to act as a natural pain reliever, but they have the beneficial side effect of helping the body to feel energised, engaged and even euphoric. One study found that just 30 minutes of treadmill walking for 10 consecutive days was sufficient to produce a clinically relevant and statistically significant reduction in depression.
Here are some lifestyle tips to support your wellbeing:
- Invest in an LED Lamp – this mimics the suns light to boost mood. These are seen to be particularly effective for seasonal depression.
- Try journaling your highs and lows.
- Come of social media for a week.
- Invest in your sleep with better pillows, a new mattress or a white noise machine.
- Create an exercise routine that works for you.
- Connect with others around you, make sure you find supportive friends and work colleagues.
- Find a hobby that brings you unbridled joy.
- Practice mindfulness
- Be patient with yourself, do not expect yourself to feel better straight away.
- Find a relaxing hobby such as knitting, yoga, or swimming.
- Prioritise better sleep by maintaining a sleep schedule.
- Only consume caffeine before 2pm. Caffeine has a long half-life meaning that any caffeine drunk after 2pm will still be in your system when you go to bed.
- Prioritise gratitude journaling to remind yourself what you are grateful for.
- Try to pinpoint triggers for poor mental health and manage these better.
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Find your Tribe
We are seeing a rise in mental health influencers, often connected with mental health services within the UK to encourage people to take better care of their mental wellbeing. Below is a list of influencers you may connect with:
- Dr Alex George - @dralexgeorge
- Dr Joanna Konstantopoulou - @healthpsychologyclinic
- Beth Brawley - @life_without_anxiety
- Claire Eastham - @claireeasthamuk
- Therapy By Robert - @therapybyrobert
- Balance Life Well-@balancelifewell
- Your Daily Dose of Therapy - @dailytherapydose
- Stabilising Serotonin- @StabilisingSerotonin
- Defying Mental Illness- @defyingmentalillness
- Fiona Thomas- @fionalikestoblog
What Can Others Do To Support Your Mental Health?
It’s not always possible to just do it on your own. Sometimes we need a little helping hand.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." – Helen Keller
If you are in need of additional support, do not hesitate to reach out to your Doctor, GP or healthcare practitioner. In addition, listed below are UK-based mental health services:
- Mind UK
- Together for Mental Wellbeing
- Mental Health UK
- Time to Change
- CALM - Campaign Against Living Miserably
- Anxiety UK
- OCD UK