Saturday, December 10, 2022
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NHS – 5 steps to mental wellbeing

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nhs-5-steps-to-wellbeing

In these troubling times we are all trying to manage what we now call the new norm. As we adjust we try to cope and some have managed to adapt better than others but as with any change the impacts can be life changing mentally and physically.

The following evidence from the NHS suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

1. Connect with other people

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They can:

  • help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
  • give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
  • provide emotional support and allow you to support others

There are lots of things you could try to help build stronger and closer relationships:

DO

  • if possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together
  • arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
  • try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family
  • have lunch with a colleague
  • visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
  • volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group. Find out how to volunteer on the GOV.UK website
  • make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart

search and download online community apps on the NHS apps library

DON’T

  • do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It’s easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people

2. Be physically active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your self-esteem
  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

Find out more about getting active

DO

DON’T

  • do not feel that you have to spend hours in a gym. It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

3. Learn new skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
  • helping you to build a sense of purpose
  • helping you to connect with others

Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.

Some of the things you could try include:

DO

  • try learning to cook something new. Find out about healthy eating and cooking tips
  • try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills
  • work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online
  • consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing
  • try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint

DON’T

  • do not feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you. It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

4. Give to others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
  • helping you connect with other people

It could be small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.

Some examples of the things you could try include:

  • saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
  • asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
  • spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company
  • offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project
  • volunteering in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital or care home

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Read more about mindfulness, including steps you can take to be more mindful in your everyday life.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Brain Power Be Happier And Even Lucky

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Brain power be happier and even lucky

It is common in self-help literature to hear that being more confident, believing in yourself, and regularly thinking positive thoughts can all help you to feel happier and to even influence your life in a positive way.

But here’s another factor you might not have considered: brain power. Did you know that mental focus, creativity, sharpness, and more can help to make you happier and even luckier?
Those who are more positive and happy tend to notice opportunities more because they are less stressed. But by the same token you could notice even more opportunities by being more alert and switched on.

Likewise, effective use of CBT requires mental discipline which in turn needs energy and focus. The last section on health will deal with this to an extent but on top of this you also need to ensure your brain is just loaded with energy and that it’s functioning better. If you’re groggy and easily distracted you won’t be able to exert the necessary discipline to change those negative thoughts.

So how do you boost your brain power?

A Quick Guide to Upgrading Your Brain

One way to quickly upgrade your brain is to give it more energy. We’ve seen how sleep can help with this but you can also do it through the right diet and supplementation. Omega 3 fatty acids for instance help to improve brain cell permeability which in turn aids rapid communication and thus brain power. Similarly, studies have shown that creatine – a supplement that athletes use to increase cellular energy – is capable of improving focus and IQ.

Reset Your Mind

Brain training ‘games’ haven’t been conclusively shown to work with the exception of the ‘Dual N-Back’ test which can increase ‘working memory’ and thus pattern recognition – critical for seeing and noticing those opportunities.

Most important of all though is to learn how to get into a ‘flow state’ which is that mental state where everything just seems effortless. In this situation your brain floods itself with the neurotransmitters dopamine, anandamide and norepinephrine which work together to further enhance pattern recognition, reflexes, attention and creativity.

How to trigger these flow states? You convince your brain that what you are doing is hugely important. And you can achieve this through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (which you now understand) as well as by simply being highly passionate about what you do – by loving your job and your partner. People who love what they do are happier, more focused and much happier.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

After Lockdown Consider Microworkout’s For A Healthier You

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As we come out of lockdown and return to a fresh way of life, our thoughts return to a healthier self. It may not be easy to return to the gym or exercise as often as before and therefore microworkout’s should be consider as an alternative approach.

What is a microworkout?

A microworkout is a tiny spell of exercise that lasts just 1-5 minutes. It is often mentioned with the term “kaizen.” Kaizen is the Japanese word for “improvement,” which has been co-opted to mean “making tiny changes to a process in order to yield huge results.” The philosophy is that a small action, when repeated daily, can add up to something profound.

This is the concept of the microworkout. While many people attempt to start 4 hour training programs to no avail, working out for just 5 minutes a day is far more achievable. Will the results be as great? Not to begin with no, but the point is that you’ll use this to form new positive habits that you can then be used to introduce hardcore training.

Likewise, you can use microworkouts two, three, or five times a day and that way distribute your training throughout the day. The result is that you will exercise a lot more, but in a palatable manner. Your metabolism remains high throughout the day, and you won’t feel those long, unhealthy periods of uninterrupted inactivity.

A new daily routine

But there’s a similar concept that is even more effective. That is to train as a part of your daily routine. In other words, you’re turning your regular activities into microworkout’s. For example, that means you’ll be performing calf raises on a curb while waiting for the bus, doing curls while carrying bags, or even doing tricep dips on the couch while watching television.

This training completely solves the issue of time. You don’t have to “fit in” your exercise, because you’re doing it at the same time as something you already would have done.

Better still, it takes the idea of continually exercising throughout the day even further. This is actually how the human body has evolved over time based on the needs to train. As you may know the body should not go through lengthy periods of complete inactivity.

But can it be as effective? That depends on your approach and your goals. For weight loss, calorie burn is calorie burn no matter how the activity is distributed.

COVID-19, Sleeping Patterns and My Fitbit

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Sleeping Patterns

We are living in very strange times due to COVID-19 forcing us to adjust to new daily routines. One of the specific areas of impact is our sleeping patterns which are now more irregular than ever before due to the lockdown, working from home and no longer having to commute to work.

We all have evenings when we find it hard to fall asleep or find ourselves waking up in the night. How we sleep and how much sleep we need is different for all of us and changes as we get older.

The main thing to note is longer stretches of bad sleep can start to affect our lives. It can cause extreme tiredness and make usually manageable tasks harder and over time we may experience insomnia. Insomnia can last for months or even years, but usually improves if we change your sleeping habits.

Fitbit my game changer

Sleep has always been a concern of mine due to working globally and changing my working pattern to stretch across several time zones. In addition, my commute at times has also been long and impacted by delays and strikes where my travel would have amounted to five hours in a day.

I started practicing mindfulness and meditation to address the lack of sleep and to understand more about the “self” from a psychology perspective. From a psychology perspective we have had many leaders state how they only have four to five hours sleep and entrepreneurs suggest that time is money and you can’t make money while sleeping.

Having purchased several low-cost devices to measure the breath and blood pressure my daughter Paris suggested purchasing a Fitbit to align my sleeping pattern. The Fitbit is a game changer for those that are considering improving their wellbing with regards to improving their sleep patterns and addressing stress and anxiety.

I have shared the following points from a Fitbit blog written in 2017 but highlights the references to sleep.

Deep sleep is important

average fitbit user

Fitbit data confirms that sleeping 7 to 8 hours gives you the highest combined percentage of deep and REM sleep. In fact, 7.5 hours of sleep is the point at which you typically start getting less percentage of REM and more light sleep.

People who sleep 5 hours or less a night deprive their body of the opportunity to get enough deep sleep, which occurs near the beginning of the night. Deep sleep is important for many physical processes such as cell regeneration, human growth hormone secretion, and feeling refreshed.

Sleep stages

Fitbit data shows waking up earlier than usual is what impacts REM sleep, which occurs more at the end of the night. Not getting enough REM sleep can negatively impact your short-term memory, cell regeneration, and mood.

Sleep schedule

Light sleep seems to act as a filler: You get more when you log less than 7 hours or more than 9 hours of sleep a night. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing—a lot of body maintenance happens during light sleep. Generation Z goes to sleep the latest, but they sleep longer, putting their nightly average of total hours asleep on top. Baby Boomers sleep the least, averaging 6 hours and 33 minutes per night.

REM and light sleep stay pretty stable throughout a person’s lifetime but deep sleep takes a hit, decreasing from an average of 17 percent at age 20 to 12 percent at age 70.

Read the Fitbit blog

In summary

In summary to improve your health and wellbeing during these challenging times and after focus on your deep sleep using meditation, exercise and the Fitbit relax app.

Life-Balance – Wellbeing – Life-Empowerment

“A healthier life for busy lives”