To mark World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10th October 2021, Rockliffe Hall’s Wellbeing Manager, Peter Bell, shares his top five initiatives to help safeguard your mental wellbeing.

1. Go Outdoors

The power of fresh air is easy to underestimate, but a quick stroll around the park can make a huge difference to your mood, try, and get out even if it only for ten minutes or half an hour pottering about the garden. Breathing the fresh air out in an open green space have many proven health benefits including helping lower cardiovascular disease and stress relief.

Staying outdoors can also help relax your muscle tension, which will further reduce your stress. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, but it also contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.

2. Improve Vitamin D Intake

It is well documented that low levels of vitamin D in the blood can lead to signs of depression and anxiety. The good news is that your body can produce all the vitamin D it needs, as long as you expose it to the sun.

However, due to lack of sunlight during the winter months we need to focus on getting our vitamin D intake from food sources, including fortified food and supplements. Vitamin D is found in a small number of foods such as oily fish, liver, red meat, and egg yolks. In the UK cow’s milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D as it is not fortified as it is in other countries.

3. Re-Learn Relaxation

Re-think your approach on how to wind the mind down and relax. There are plenty of relaxing strategies without leaving the house, some people may favour a hot bath, a good book, a pod cast, whilst others may refuge in hobbies such as cooking, art and crafts. Find what works for you, consider activities such as meditation and mindfulness.

A luxurious soak with your favourite bath salts or bubble bath is a simple way to warm up and pamper yourself. Warm baths during the colder months relax tight muscles, therefore relieving tension physically and mentally.

Catch up with a good movie, warm the room, light some candles, and buy yourself some treats, this is a great way to help you relax and switch off.

4. Eat Well

Unequivocally, the food we eat has a huge effect on our energy and this in turn has an effect on our mood. Try to get out of the habit of consuming takeaway and processed convenience foods, these are unhealthy choices, which will have a negative impact not only on your physical but also your mental wellbeing.

Research has shown that making those bad food choices specifically during the change of season to dark nights can have a significant effect on your mood. Explore healthy eating guidelines, this can help you make more informed decisions around food, and help you find out what you need to function as healthily and happily as possible.

5. Keep Active and Stay Connected

Regular exercise can do wonders for your state of mind, the hormones you release helps put you in a state of “feel good” there is unlimited amounts of exercise activities you can participate in, find what suits you.

Research found that individuals who participate in exercise in the gym environment over the winter months had a better sense of focus with exercise, improved compliance with their exercise routine and furthermore improved their mood levels.

Also visiting the gym gives you the opportunity to connect with people a develop a friendly rapport, it is well documented with regards to mental health experts that having a social connection with people improves mood.

This year’s World Mental Health Day takes place on Sunday 10th October 2021.

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