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Mental Health Awareness Week 2022: Time to Talk's wellbeing top tips

Date: 09 May 2022

Time: 08:00

Mental Health Awareness Week is taking place this year from 9-15 May. This annual event, which focuses on improving good mental health across the nation, is hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.

This year’s theme is loneliness and how we can tackle it. Long-term loneliness is closely linked to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, so Time to Talk, our talking therapies service, have put together their top tips to help focus on your wellbeing this week.

Our top wellbeing tips

1. Put yourself first

Often in life we might feel we have too much to do, or need to look after others first. This means we put ourselves at the bottom of the pile. We often see self-care as selfish, however, this couldn’t be more wrong. We see self-care as essential. We can’t pour from an empty glass, so there is no space to complete our daily tasks effectively or look after others, if we aren’t looking after ourselves first. Remember, when you’re on a plane, whose mask do they tell you to put on first?

2. You’re not alone if you feel lonely

Did you know over half of us have reported feeling lonely at some point? If you’re struggling with loneliness, there is a lot of support out there for you.

For people over 50, Age UK offers a range of supportive services. This includes: home from hospital support, home visiting services and dementia support. They also provide many activities, at their centres and community clubs, such as Zumba and Tai Chi. Older people can also use SilverLine, a confidential, free 24/7 helpline. Their specially trained helpline staff offer information, friendship and advice, link callers to local groups and services, offer regular befriending calls, and protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect.

For all adults, Pathfinder provides advice, information and support for people affected by mental health problems, as well as carers, friends and professionals. If you or someone you know is struggling, Pathfinder can give you a single point of contact in their local area.

Under-25s can use The Mix, a free, confidential helpline and online peer support on any topic. Formats include helpline, webchat, discussion boards, email and telephone counselling.

3. Work out what works for you

Self-care can take many forms – it might be watching your favourite film on the sofa that relaxes you, or an energising dance class that clears your head. Take some time to think about what activities fit into your life as part of your ‘wheel of self-care’ – from the physical and professional to personal and emotional. Getting a good range of different self-care activities will keep you feeling well and fulfilled.

4. Be present

Our minds are often running at 100 miles per hour – what’s coming up this week, what do we have to plan for in the coming months? Or maybe you’re preoccupied with things that have already happened, maybe how you would do things differently if only you got the chance? Mindfulness is a practice that helps you counter these thoughts and encourages us to live in the present. There are lots of ways to practise mindfulness, from this mindful breathing exercise to using an app like Headspace for meditation.

5. Self-care isn’t selfish

Our lives are very busy, and if you get a spare moment, you might be thinking about what’s next on the to-do list – maybe you need to write a shopping list, or reply to an email. But what if you added self-care to that to-do list? Looking after ourselves should be a part of our daily lives. If the idea of embracing self-care makes you feel like you should be doing something else, you’re not alone. Guilt is a common feeling and we often let guilt control what we do. We become controlled by what we are 'supposed' to do, instead of embracing the fact that it’s okay to leave the vacuuming for another day. We shouldn’t feel guilty about putting time aside for ‘me’ time. Self-care isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity!

Mental Health Awareness Week is a chance to think about our wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us. If you’re finding it hard to cope with loneliness, or if you’re feeling down or anxious, Time to Talk can help. They provide free, confidential talking therapies to all adults registered with a GP in West Sussex. You don’t have to speak to your GP first – you can self-refer today. Find out more on the Time to Talk webpages.

If you are struggling to cope and you have certain long-term health conditions, Time to Talk have a specialist service, Time to Talk Health. They can support adults in West Sussex with a heart condition, Asthma, COPD, Diabetes, IBS, Long Covid or a MSK condition. Find out more on the Time to Talk Health webpage.