Food and health

Eat better; some small changes to improve the way you feel both physical and mentally 

Strawberry Dessert, Strawberries

When you talk about healthy eating you are likely to think of dieting and calorie counting. Here at Therapies4Forces we don’t think that life should be all about painstakingly paying attention to what you are eating; after all, life is for living. 

Ice Cream, Dessert, Sweet, Food, Frozen

We have some top tips for eating better that will not only have you feeling better but are not huge changes to make to your lifestyle!  

Cuisine, Food, Italian, Antipasti

Drink more water 

It isn’t news to most of us, water is good for you. But despite knowing this many of us still do not drink enough water on a daily basis. Whilst sat working you may absent mindedly grab for your cup of coffee or tea but how often do you grab for the water?  

Water, Drink, Detox, Detox Water, Lemon

This is likely to be because you simply do not have it there. Instead of filling up your mug every time you pop away from the desk, fill up a bottle of water instead and pop it where your mug would be. Before long you will swigging from it without even realising. 

Eat from smaller plates 

Saje, Muffins, Crumb, Eaten Up

When you serve up your dinner you are likely to pile up your plate. When you serve on a big plate this means that you will be eating bigger portions. Studies have found that smaller plates mean that people will reduce their calorie intake without even realising it and by switching to a 2 inch smaller plate than you usual use you could reduce your food intake by around 22% over a year.  

Make healthy snacks easy to reach 

Bananas, Tropical Fruits, Fruit, Exotic

If you are feeling hungry but are in a rush you are going to grab the closest and easiest to reach thing to keep you going. Rather than having biscuits, crisps and other unhealthy snacks on the low shelf make sure that you stock it with nuts and fruit instead. That way you are more likely to go for a banana than a digestive.  

Have a meat free day 

Vegetables, Avocado, Vegan, Veggies

There has been plenty in the media recently about how meat isn’t all that great for you in excess; however, it still seems to be something that many of us are not keen to give up. So why not set yourself the goal of having one meat free day per week. Whether you have a meat free Monday, Veggie Thursday or perhaps a healthy Sunday make sure that you spend one day enjoying some of the other great sources of protein. You never know, you might even start to look forward to your meat free days!  

Think healthy 

Eye, Brow, Brown, Day Dream, Thinking

Ultimately, making changes to how you eat can only come from you. Change your mindset and remember that treats, such as sugary or fatty foods are just that. Enjoy life and enjoy eating but always tell yourself that everything should be in moderation in order to keep you feeling extra healthy!  

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Exercise and mental health

Exercise and mental health

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Each year thousands of pounds are spent on medications to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression. These medications often have negative side effects. Exercise is an alternative treatment that is low cost and has few side effects.

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Physical activity can have a positive effect on aspects of mental health and psychological well-being, such as depression, mood and cognitive function.

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There are various ways in which exercise can benefit mental health. Firstly, exercise can prevent or reduce the extent of mental illnesses such as depression. Secondly, exercise can enhance mood and reduce stress levels, thus allowing us to tackle daily challenges in a more positive, optimistic and constructive way.

Action, Adult, Athlete, Audience

There is no one theory or hypothesis that has been universal accepted to explain the link between exercise and mental health. Instead several different hypotheses have been proposed. Which can be dived into two categories: Physical or bio-physical and psychosocial.

Nobody is suggesting that to help improve your mood you need to start training like an Olympian, cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes a day such as a walk in the park maybe with friends can have a huge positive impact. For those who are unable to walk 30 minutes in one go this can be divided into manageable bite size times just enough to get your heart beating at a faster pace and too feel a little warmer.

So, with proven statistics of exercise having a positive impact on mood and overall health. Go for it, its free no special equipment needed. Don’t think it will work for you? Why not try for 4 weeks keep a mood diary and see if it does have a positive impact, remember not to stop any medication without discussing this with your GP.

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Member lived experience

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One of our members has kindly and very bravely shared her lived experience of the impact of her husbands service related mental health. This is totally unedited and the words as written.

When I was asked to write this blog for mental health week I did have to have a think about doing it because I wasn’t sure if I ready to talk about the struggles I faced behind closed doors.  I will leave things out that I don’t feel ready to share but this is my story.

I met my husband when I was 21, he had been out the army a year and wasn’t in a good way and I was 21 with no idea what PTSD was and the effects it would have.

When we first got together we had both been working full time he tried so hard as many do to hide the night terrors away from me. He struggled in the jobs he was working so he swopped and changed quite a bit. He was also just starting with combat stress who later turned out to be useless.

The last time my husband worked was 2012 he lost it when used a scape goat to get back at my father. He tried to pull the supervisor through a hatch window in the office. Little did I know then that I would have to give up work, he started to forget to turn the cooker off and having pan fires or dissociate leave the house and forget who or where he was. I was frightened and had no clue what to do or who to turn to and actually felt quite alone.

I ended up having to give up work for 6 years.  Fought to get him the help and support he needed. Combat stress wouldn’t help as he was to complex for him. NHS didn’t really understand and some things that he just could not discuss. Our relationship with our family struggled as he was so up and down and again I felt like I had to choose them or us, even though he said I didn’t need to choose them.  I would attend family gatherings by myself most of the time and if he came I couldn’t really relax I was always watching for things which may set him off, we always have 2 fronts the normal one we want people to see and what is really going on when its just me and him. I think it changed me as a person. I think during this period my mental health got effected aswell and didn’t really have time for myself or give myself time. So I do what most people do and comfort eat putting on a shed load of weight. He also gambled a lot and we would struggle for money.

I couldn’t have a carers assessment because he wouldn’t talk to them so I couldn’t have the extra to be able to do nice things for me.

Back in 2015 I pushed him to join a group activity that he would enjoy made him go by himself and put himself out there and little did I know this would have a massive impact on both of our lives. He started to get a purpose back attending every event didn’t matter where in the county or Europe it was.  I also met a lovely lady who became one of my best friends whose husband suffered like mine. He then also did another activity run for veterans which helped him even more.

In 2016 I decided it was time to do something for me and I trekked the Great Wall of China with help for heroes. This was for me a very tough experience and looking back I should have done more training but I managed 3 days before my lack of confidence got the better of me and I gave up (this is the first time I am really admitting it), I felt guilty for letting the team down and being to slow which effected my mental health and I think if it wasn’t for my friend back home talking to me I would have done something silly.

I then went on to complete my training for complimentary therapy. I have also managed to go on holiday by myself with my best friend and also spa days and just generally taking more care of myself.

 It was there I decided I wanted to go into healthcare and applied for a job which I didn’t think I would get and now a year in I am loving it and looking to better myself, all with the support of my husband. Although he has struggled with his own problems he has always been my biggest supporter.

I would not say he cured of PTSD as I don’t think that will ever get better but I would say we are in a better place now. We still have our bad periods but I have taken a “put on your big girls pants” approach. I will always fight to get him the help and support he needs and fight for others to.

Something I have learnt along the way is its important to have time to yourself to switch off and enjoy being normal and not “wife” or “carer” and to remember I am not on my own there are others who will support you.

Hands, Heart, Couple, Woman, Man, People

Mental Health Impact of bullying at work

Bullying at work

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There is no legal definition of bullying. However ACAS define workplace bullying as “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the person being bullied” The Health and Safety Executive emphasises this is a pattern of behaviour rather than an isolated instance, happening “repeatedly and persistently over time”.

There is also the concept of “harassment” which, unlike bullying, is defined in the Equality Act 2010. This specifically amounts to unwanted conduct relating to a protected characteristic that has the purpose of violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person. The relevant protected characteristics are: age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. A one-off incident can amount to harassment.

What Forms can bullying take?

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  • Overbearing supervision
  • Constraint criticism
  • Gossiping
  • Making up lies about colleagues  
  • Being rude
  • Demanding
  • Deliberating showing constant insubordination eg not following chain of command
  • Causing trouble for people
  • Making colleagues feel uncomfortable
  • Shouting at people
  • Being overworked, with impossible time frames
  • Physical e.g. slamming a door in someone’s face, hitting someone

What forms can harassment take?

Gossip, Girls, Group, Portrait, School
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or touching, standing too close, the display of offensive materials, asking for sexual favours.
  •  Being frequently teased and humiliated about a disability that you have.
  •  Receiving homophobic comments.

What are an employer’s responsibilities?

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Employers have a duty of care for all their employees to prevent bullying and harassment. They also have responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for the welfare of employees.

What should you do if you feel you are being bullied or harassed?

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It can be really difficult to speak out about being bullied, especially if you feel you will not get listened to or given lip service, you should firstly consider whether the situation can be resolved with your line manager informally, never feel you have to deal with the bully yourself, if it suggested by a manager that you should stand up to the person, then this is not dealing or taking any responsibility for the situation this is putting the onus back to you to sort out, and this is not the action of a manager who cares.  Find someone to talk to about never bottle it up.

Pressure, Suppression, Stress

If the matter cannot be resolved informally, you may wish to escalate matters and lodge a formal grievance, which your employer should investigate and then hold a meeting with you. The grievance should be logged with HR. If the grievance is not upheld, you have the right to lodge an appeal. If it is upheld, the person bullying you could be disciplined or even dismissed.

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If your health (whether physical or mental) is so adversely affected by the bullying, your GP may sign you off work for work related stress and/or anxiety. Indeed, in many cases, individuals find they simply cannot return to work while the continuing threat of bullying remains. Those who are bullied, have an increased risk, of stress, anxiety and depression and decreased levels of self-esteem and future optimism. If someone’s behaviour is making anyone feel, bullied in anyway it is not acceptable

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To alleviate bullying, it would be helpful if employers adopted policies encouraging employees to speak out, together with providing appropriate assistance. They should also be discouraging any culture of bullying and harassment in the workplace. Encouraging bystanders who join in work gossip or stand by and listen should be discouraged, all staff need to be encouraged to report anything like this immediately to their line manager.

Dislike, No, Not, Hands, Woman, Upset

We unfortunately may come across someone at work who ruins it for everyone, making work an awful place to be, with bullying, lies, insubordination, malicious rumours. Often work bullies have great delight in tormenting staff, yet are the first to lodge a complaint should anyone stand up to them or say something they don’t like, often bullies will use this as a form of bullying trying to get staff members into trouble. Good managers will address this is a professional and diligent manner, so that the bully is the one who is in trouble for causing trouble.  With the right support from management and serious consequences for all bullies, the work place should be a supportive, nurturing place to be. We spend a lot of our lives at work and it should be somewhere we enjoy going and can be free of harassment and bullying of any kind.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will …… and can have a truly detrimental impact on my health and wellbeing

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Who Cares for you?

It can be so easy to forget about your own care when you are responsible for another person’s care.  But what happens to them if you get sick because you forgot to schedule in some personal care?  Let’s not think about it now and focus on keeping both your health and emotional wellbeing on the right track with some easy to follow tips. 

 Sleep 

When we sleep our bodies start to repair the physical and emotional damage of that day; essentially recharging our batteries.  If we start to cut down on these hours, then our bodies will have less and less energy to rely upon and then a simple cold will linger on and on until it turns into something a little more serious.  The experts say around 7-9 hours’ sleep a night is recommended as a ‘good night sleep’ but if that proves difficult, try and take some time out of the day to fit in a couple of power naps to top those energy levels.  It’s amazing how revitalised you will feel after just closing your eyes for 10 minutes. 

Eat 

Trying to fit in three healthy meals a day can be quite a challenge when someone else’s needs supersede your own.  But why not try and use their routine to your advantage?  Eat when they eat (not always easy but you might find some days are better than others). Where possible start the day with a decent breakfast that is going to keep you going to at least past lunchtime and always have to hand a quick and healthy snack to fill the gaps between one meal and the next.  If you can prepare some or even all of that day’s evening meal the night before that means you can just pop in the oven whilst you take care of whatever needs taking care of.  Maybe once a month or even a fortnight you might even get a chance to bulk cook some easy to freeze meals.   

Take a break 

When you are the main carer, it can be impossible to take a break from your responsibilities, but even an hour or two can make all the difference.  Just do not use the time put aside for your own care to catch up with chores.  Take a break from everything and do something that only involves you; take a long lingering bath, go for a nice walk along the beach, finish that book you’ve been trying to since Christmas.  No one is going to begrudge you a little ‘me’ time after all the care you give to others.   

It can be so easy to forget about your own care when you are responsible for another person’s care.  But what happens to them if you get sick because you forgot to schedule in some personal care?  Let’s not think about it now and focus on keeping both your health and emotional wellbeing on the right track with some easy to follow tips. 

Keep a healthy balance 

It can be so easy to pile too much upon your plate and find yourself overstretched both mentally and physically.  No one can do it all.  Know your limits and be sensible with your time.  Keeping a weekly schedule will allow you to keep track of the days ahead and spot any gaps in your calendar that you can put to good use (power nap, ‘me’ time, hobbies).   

Help! 

Asking for help can be a difficult thing to do and near on impossible when there is only you to do the caring.  But what if it is just someone else’s opinion or advice that you need?  In today’s society the internet allows us to get just that at the touch of a button.  Being a carer doesn’t mean you are on your own, there are thousands upon thousands of carers doing exactly what you are doing and know how hard it can be at times.  There are so many support groups online that offer carers a place to go without having to worry.  Take full advantage of this virtual world and share your worries with people who know how you feel.  Taking care of yourself does not just mean your body, your mind is just as important.   

Motivation

Motivate yourself and reach your goals

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As much as you are responsible for your own happiness, you are also responsible for your own success too. Reaching your goals, whether they relate to a career, education or perhaps fitness is yours and yours alone to achieve.  

The key is to keep motivated no matter what crops up along the journey. Here are our top tips to keep feeling that drive to get to exactly where you want to be!  

Know where you want to be 

Steps, Staircase, Climbing

How can you reach your goals if you don’t even know what they are? Taking the time to think about exactly what you want and how to get there is one of the best ways to stay on track.  

You could even keep a list of all the steps you need to take and tick them off as you go. Seeing how far you have come is going to keep you driving to finish the list.  

Keep the goal in mind 

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It is likely that most of the time your goals will involve a long process with plenty of obstacles on the way. By always focusing on the end result you will be motivated to jump over those hurdles and get ever closer to the finish line.  

Try not to focus on those negative pitfalls and be positive about the journey that you are about to experience instead.  

Celebrate on the way  

Balloons, Party, Girl, Happy, Walking

This leads us into our next tip; celebrating those little wins. Reaching a milestone in your plan is an achievement in itself and should be rewarded. They are also great indicators that you are another step closer, another obstacle overcome to reaching your goal and of course the positive vibes will do wonders for your motivation. 

Know when to change your path 

Wanderer, Backpack, Hike, Away, Path

There is a chance that even with the best plan laid out you will hit an obstacle that will have you scratching your head and feeling less than positive.  

Perhaps it is time to think about another route. There is no shame in changing direction on the way, think of it as a detour on the road to your goal. Sometimes traffic jams just happen and it is how you reroute yourself that will have you wanting to keep going rather than turning back.  

There is no shame in changing your mind 

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Whilst a goal is there for a reason, you might find that your lack of motivation is simply because your own vision has changed. Finding out that something that you thought you wanted is no longer your dream can be disappointing, but think of it as a chance to re-evaluate what you want to achieve.  

Take a deep breath and picture yourself in the future. It might be the case that your new goal is along the same lines and you have already put in some of the hard ground work to get you there.  

When you reach your goal there really is   feeling. So at the times when you are feeling at your lowest ebb just remember why you are doing the thigs you are and how great it will be when you finally get there. This should have you driving yourself forward!  

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What is depression

What is depression? 

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Life has a habit of bringing you up only to knock you down. In fact, there are all times that we feel a bit low.  

It is common at these times to say that you are feeling “depressed” and whilst this is an accurate description of how you feel, it doesn’t mean that you are suffering from depression. 

We have put together these guides to explain more about depression so that you can understand how it can affect you and those around you.   

What is depression? 

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Depression is an extended period of low moods. These low moods will affect your ability to take pleasure and interest in everyday activities. 

One in ten people will be diagnosed as having depression at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common types of mental illness in the world.  

Anyone can get depression at any point in their lives and best of all, it is completely treatable once it is recognised and diagnosed. 

You cannot simply snap out of depression and it is not a sign of weakness or inability.  

The different types of depression 

You may not realise it but there are several types of depression; whether these are diagnosis or simply a term, they are all things that you may hear if you are diagnosed by your doctor. 

The most common forms of depression include: 

  • Clinical depression- this is often the term used by doctors 
  • Depressive Episode- used to example a short term period of depression often after a traumatic event and can also be related to reactive depression 
  • Recurrent depressive disorder- more than two depressive episodes will be categorised as recurrent depressive disorder 
  • Bipolar disorder- periods of extreme highs and lows 
  • Psychotic depression- this form of depression can go alongside hallucinations and delusions 
  • Postnatal depression- a common form of depression that 1 in 10 women will have after having a baby 
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)- a form of depression that affects you at the same time of year (often the winter)  

What are the signs of depression? 

Sad, Sadness, Person, Depression

Now you know more about what depression is we are going to discuss the signs and symptoms that you or someone you love might be suffering. Here are the most common indicators: 

  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Lacking interest of usual daily activities 
  • Appetite changes 
  • Insomnia  
  • Irritability 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Reckless behaviour 

Hopefully this guide will help you to understand depression further and how you can look out for those tell-tale signs.  

If you are concerned about depression, then it is important to make sure you speak to a GP to discuss this further. They can provide you with guidance and advice which will help you to live your life fully and stop it having minimal impact on your everyday activities.

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Mindfulness what it is and why it works!

Mindfulness; what it is and why it works!  

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Mindfulness is a term that many people interested in mental wellbeing will have heard of, but not everyone is aware of what it is and the great benefits that you can see from just taking the time to put it in place.  

Let’s look at the power of mindfulness and just what it can do for you!  

What is mindfulness? 

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Mindfulness is simple; it is being aware of the moment that you are in and enjoying every feeling, thought and sensation that happens.  

So many us spend our daily lives rushing, not experiencing all the beauty of the world around us. This “automatic pilot” mode will of course help you get through some of the multi-tasking aspects of life, but does it allow you to stop and appreciate all those amazing things that are around you?  

How can it help? 

Meditation, Mindfulness, Nature

Mindfulness is a method of slowing down enough to pay attention to the world around you. It allows you to focus on the positive rather than feeling anxious about the negative and whilst it can’t stop the pressures of everyday life it can help you to respond to them in a better way.  

What are the benefits of being mindful? 

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There are a variety of different benefits to being mindful. These can be broken down into benefits for your mental health, physical health and wellbeing.  

Mental Health 

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Being aware of yourself and the world around you is one of the basic treatments for a wide range of mental health issues. Therefore mindfulness is known to be able to help with: 

  • Depression 
  • Addictions 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Anxiety 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders 
  • Stress 

Physical Health 

Woman, Girl, Walken, Go For A Walk

There are also a range of illnesses and physical complaints that mindfulness can help relieve. These include: 

  • High Blood Pressure 
  • Chronic Pain 
  • Insomnia 
  • Gastrointestinal issues 

Wellbeing 

Solo, Reader, Old, Park

Finally, mindfulness can have a huge impact on your wellbeing.  

It increases feelings of satisfaction in your life and can make it all the easier to enjoy those moments of pleasure as the arise. It is also thought that those who take a mindful approach to life will deal with negative situations when they happen and have fewer regrets about their past as well as worries about the future.  

So now you know more about mindfulness and what it can do for you. Why don’t you learn more about this powerful mental tool and bring a touch of clarity to your everyday life. 

There is a very good chance that you will never regret slowing things down and taking the chance to enjoy life.  

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The power of happiness

The power of happiness; why the simple hug or laugh can be great for you!  

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When you think of hugs and laughter what do you see? Is it an expression of happiness or joy? These two things may just seem like something we all do on a day to day basis, but the truth is that both hugging and laughing can have a real impact on the way you think and feel. 

Here we have some of the best reasons that you should crack out a smile and grab the person closest to you for a bit of hugging and laughter therapy (just make sure that they want to be hugged or you could have an awkward situation on your hands).  

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A boost  

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Oxytocin is important to us at it reverses those feelings of anger, isolation and loneliness and hugging is an instant booster to your oxytocin levels.  

Lowering blood pressure 

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Laughter is known to reduce your blood pressure and lower blood pressure reduces your chances of stroke or heart attacks. 

Make it linger 

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If you take the time to really enjoy a super long hug then you will see a rise in your serotonin. Serotonin brings your mood up and leads you to feel happier! Vanilla Moon say always be the last one to leave a hug. 

It’s a workout 

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Believe it or not but laughter can burn as many calories as you would walking at a slow pace. Not only is it a great cardio workout, but laughter can also tone your abs as it makes your stomach muscles expand and contract with every chortle you let out!  

Relax 

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How do you feel when you are hugging someone? Less tense? Relaxed? Hugging relaxes those tight muscles and can increase circulation to soft tissues. This means that any aches and pains can feel all the better! 

Reduce your stress 

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Laughter is known to take down the stress hormones that your body produces. This in turn cuts anxiety and stress which can only have a positive impact on the way you feel! 

Enjoy yourself 

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Both hugging and laughter is a great way to let go and just enjoy the moment that you are in. Hugging gives you the chance to show love and be loved and laughter reminds you that no matter how hard things can be, that there are happy times just around the corner.  

Give your immune system a helping hand 

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Feeling like a cold is on its way? Then pop on a funny film. Laughter activates T Cells within your body which are your immune systems first defences against illness. Perhaps this is where the saying that laughter is the best medicine came from? 

Laughter, hugging and smiling are all ways to improve your mental wellbeing and get yourself on the path to feeling great. Best of all, none of them cost a thing. So take the time to laugh loud, hug hard and really relish every minute of your life!  

Fashion, Happy, Men, People, Smile

What is mental health?

Mental Health is a term that has been become used more and more over recent years. Whilst many people may have a vague understanding of it, there are not many who can claim to fully understand what is meant by mental health. 

Mental health encapsulates emotional, social and psychological well-being. It can have an effect on how we feel, think and of course act on a daily basis.  

Mental health is important during every stage of our lives; from early childhood right up to elderly life. It can impact on how we relate to other people, make choices about our lives and handle stress. Everyone has mental health. 

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What type of mental health issues are there?

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Mental health issues/illness covers a wide variety of different issues that all come with varying symptoms and treatments.  

These include:  

  • Depression 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Dementia 
  • Schizophrenia 
  • Anxiety 

Who is at risk?  

Audience, Crowd, People, Persons

Mental health problems can affect you at any point in time and you may not have shown any signs of mental health issues before it. It is thought that as much as 1 in 4 people in the UK, will develop mental health issues in their lifetime, a rather surprising statistic for some.  

It is believed that women are more at risk of suffering from mental health issues than men, with many of these women developing issues such as post-natal depression after the birth of a baby.  

Are there any factors that increase your chances of suffering from mental health issues?

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The answer is yes, there are some factors to take into account that may make you more life to struggle with poor mental health. This include: 

  • Traumatic or abusive life experiences 
  • Family history of mental health problems 
  • Biological factors  

What are the warning signs of mental health issues? 

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Whilst it may feel that mental health problems can come out of the blue, there are often some early indicators that may show that the person is suffering from a problem. Whether it is in yourself or in a family member or friend, these are the early warning signs to look out:  

  • Eating too much or too little 
  • Sleeping more or issues such as insomnia 
  • Removal from usual activities and social situations 
  • Feeling low and lacking energy 
  • A numb feeling 
  • Unexplained aches and pains  
  • A feeling of hopelessness 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Confusion, fear, anger or worry 
  • Increased irritation and arguing 
  • Mood swings 
  • Hearing voices 
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or others 

All of these things can be difficult to pick up on, especially if the person is hiding them from people closest to them. If you can, try your best to talk to the person and get them to share their feelings with you.  

Sometimes, simply acknowledging that they need help is the first step towards recovering from mental health problems.  

The important thing to remember with mental health issues is that it is important to get help as soon as you can. There are treatments available to help people through these difficult times and ensure that they continue to live out their daily lives as best they can.  

If you are worried about your mental health speak to a professional such as the GP, Health Visitor or District nurse, they will be able to help. 

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