Mental health issues affect one in four of us - and often the beginning of a New Year can be a particularly challenging time for many people.
Some of the most common mental health conditions that people can suffer include experience depression, anxiety, grief, stress and loneliness during this time, and these are all things that can affect a person’s mental well-being.
That's why local health and social care partners from across Liverpool have developed 10 top tips to help people to improve their mental health and beat the winter blues this January.
- Speak to someone about how you are feeling: If you don’t feel like you can talk to a friend or family member, you can also contact the national charity Samaritans on: 0151 708 8888 or Talk Liverpool, a local support service run by Mersey Care, on 0151 228 2300 for free, confidential advice and support over the phone 24/7 or at: www.talkliverpool.nhs.uk
- Try talking to a Woebot: You can also download Woebot, which is an app that offers day-to-day mental health tips. This chatbot can help you think through situations with step-by-step guidance using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It helps you learn about yourself with intelligent mood tracking and hundreds of exercises for you to try out. For more information, visit: https://woebot.io/
- Get active: There's lots of evidence that physical activity can help you feel better, sleep better, and be more healthy. If you haven't exercised for a while, why not start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day or trying out a local class? Even small changes can add up to a big difference. Visit www.fitforme.info for lots of ideas to help get you started.
- Eat healthily: Eating a balanced diet of fruit and veg can really help improve your mood too. There's lots more NHS advice on how to get a balanced and healthy diet here.
- Reduce your alcohol intake: Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt that balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings and sometimes our long-term mental health, so cutting down or stopping drinking can really help improve our emotional well-being too. Read some NHS tips on cutting down on alcohol or visit http://drinklessenjoymore.co.uk/
- Cut down or give up smoking: We all know that stopping smoking improves your physical health, but it's also proven to boost your mental health and wellbeing too. It's a common belief that smoking helps you relax. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension, and smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time too. For a range of free online tools to support you to quit, visit: https://www.smokefreeliverpool.co.uk/
- Try something new: Why not try something new, such as joining a group, taking a class or starting up a new hobby? It's a great way to meet new people, develop new skills, and feel better too. There's lots of ideas and advice to help you identify what you might enjoy here.
- Stay in touch: It's really important to make sure that you connect with others plenty, even when you're not feeling great because socialising can help us feel happier and more secure. It also gives us a greater sense of purpose and someone to talk to when we are feeling low.
- Do things for others: Evidence shows that doing something for others can make you feel happier, more purposeful, and more satisfied with your life - and even small gestures count. So why not pop in for a cuppa with an elderly friend or family member who might feel a bit isolated during the cold weather, or ask a neighbour if they need any help? Not only could this improve your own mental health, but it could also brighten someone else’s day too.
- Ask for help: If you are in a crisis and or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts ask for help. You can call NHS 111 or visit a local emergency department where a mental health support team will be on hand to help you.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by a long list of ideas and advice like this, but don't forget that you needn't try them all at once. Even just having a go at one or two of them could really help you to keep the January blues away this year.
For more support, you can also talk to your local GP at any time, who will be able to offer further advice and treatment which is specific to your needs.