Today the discussion around mental health is no longer taboo – or at least, not anywhere near the way it was a few short years ago. Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge talk about it, celebrities are far more open about their spectrum of mental health problems, and businesses are beginning to recognise mental as well as physical health as a vital part of employee wellbeing that cannot be ignored or taken for granted.
The term ‘mental health’ covers a vast and varied spectrum of things, some of which have small, somewhat undermining names like ‘stress’ that do little to convey the seriousness with which they can take hold. Such a little word for such a potentially damaging feeling.
Other mental health problems have been chronically misunderstood historically, such as Bipolar, but hopefully we are moving towards a more compassionate society that’s better equipped to support rather than discriminate.
“Maybe we all have darkness inside of us and some of us are better at dealing with it than others.” ― Author Jasmine Warga, My Heart and Other Black Holes
The bottom line is that we all have mental health, and looking after it isn’t something we can allocate to an hour a week. Like all aspects of our wellbeing, it’s something we need to pay attention to in an ongoing capacity.
There’s no quick fix, and nothing is a constant, as with so many things, we need to treat ourselves as a work in progress and sometimes we will get lost. But what can we do on a regular basis to help?
Stress can cause tension in the body and over time we get used to it and stop noticing, but it can lead to chronic aches and pains. If you slowly tense and release your muscles, one group at a time from your toes to your teeth, you’ll learn to let go… it’s the basic principle behind using a stress ball.
Take five minutes to go on a mental holiday when the real variety is out of reach. Close your eyes, go to your happy place, and try to get as many senses as possible on board… try it!
An oldie but a goodie, deep breathing is such a powerful antidote to stress that The American Institute of Stress named it the best stress reduction technique… and if the smell of city fumes or your colleague’s tuna lunch is disrupting the mood then it’s a good excuse to carry a little bottle of essential oils with you to encourage that deep inhale and exhale with a little aromatherapy for good measure.
No one will find this a groundbreaking suggestion, but from gurus to the NHS, regular exercise is a powerful way to help clear your head, boost endorphins and maintain perspective.
Meditation can take many forms – for some, exercise in itself is a form of meditation. In its traditional form though, one of its strengths is that you can do it any time, any place and for however long you’re able to.
Grayshott Spa has a wealth of knowledge at its fingertips, not least when it comes to nutrition, and there is a lot of science that shows a well balanced diet can have a big impact on stress management. For example, B vitamins are fundamental to a healthy nervous system, while vitamin C helps to protect our cells from the damaging free radicals caused by stress. On the other hand, sugary snacks, cakes and biscuits can over stimulate the adrenal glands and cause stress and caffeine can also overstimulate the production of stress hormones and cause heart palpitations.
The essential oils used in your spa treatments aren’t just there because they are pleasant. Each one encourages a different response, but you don’t have to be in a treatment to reap the benefits. For example, rosemary is good for the memory and peppermint is good for brainstorming – so maybe keep a little bottle on hand just in case.
Complementary therapies are known for helping to manage and relieve stress on the mind and body for a variety of reasons. For example, reflexology is designed to stimulate the body’s self healing properties.
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