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Ways to Improve Mental Health in Your Local Area

Ways to Improve Mental Health in Your Local Area
By News reporter Eleanor Clavin
As we move away from 2020, it is easy to think that things will be completely different in the new year as if old fears and troubles will float away. With winter slowly passing and recent approval of coronavirus vaccinations, there is hope for the future. However, worries about the future are still very much present and valid. Realistically, mental health is something that is in continuous need of delicate care and attention. It does not magically vanish with the chime of Big Ben. If you are left feeling low in the New Year then know that you are not alone.

If the New Year offers anything to mental health, it is that it presents an opportunity to place focus on improvement and self reflection. The bustle of Christmas is over and the quieter months of January provide time for self reflection and organisation. Taking time to focus on your mental health is often wrongly perceived to be selfish and time consuming when this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that self care is vital to sustain a positive and productive mindset and it only requires a small change of daily routine. Now is the perfect time to utilise your local community to build healthy habits and focus on your wellbeing.

One of the most significant ways to improve mental health is to improve physical health.  With many of us now working from home, we have little reason to leave and this makes it easy to neglect the outdoors. Natural daylight and exercise can be significant in boosting mood and reducing stress. Pinner offers some particularly scenic green spaces including Pinner Memorial Park and Pinner Village Gardens which can help shift our focus away from feeling trapped in the same indoor cycle.

Additionally, eating a healthy diet can help to regulate mood and increase focus. If you are someone who seeks convenience, there are plenty of healthy takeaway options in the Pinner area. For example, Daisy’s in the Park has a range of delicious healthy breakfast and lunch options. In particular, reducing caffeine can help lower stress levels. If, like me, you’re someone who loves going to local coffee shops then consider switching to low caffeine alternatives like tea. Independent local business TAG Drinks in Eastcote specialise in blending tea and boasting a range of health benefits as well as aiding relaxation.

Alternatively, if you are currently unable to leave your house then focusing your energy on something creative can be the perfect outlet for stress whether that be photography, music or painting. Adult colouring has become hugely popular in recent years due to its ability to relax and refocus the mind. Some of my personal favourites include Millie Marotta’s Brilliant Beasts and Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden both of which can be found at your local bookshop: Brooks online at https://uk.bookshop.org/shop/brooks.

You could also try the practise of mindfulness which involves becoming aware of overwhelming thoughts and helping to create a more focused head. This can be done via guided meditation apps such as Headspace or journaling which acts as a wonderful self therapy method. Writing down our worries and acknowledging positive things about our day can help to clear the mind and in turn, aid sleep and improve productivity.

Lastly, it is vitally important to tackle loneliness in your life. If you are unable to see family and friends then keep in contact where possible. We are lucky to live in a modern world where technology makes communication so easily available. However, if you’ve grown tired of Zoom calls perhaps consider using the old fashioned method of letter writing. The spontaneity of receiving handwritten cards certainly feels more special. It is nice to know that someone is thinking of you without having to be scheduled into the day. 

A significant number of elderly people do not have access to the internet and according to Age UK over a million people in England say that they go for over a month without talking to a friend, neighbour or family. Dropping messages and checking in on neighbours during this difficult time is key to battling loneliness which if left unsolved can lead to a range of mental health issues. 

Pinner Print shop have recently launched an online shop (https://printshine.co.uk/) where you can design personalised cards and postcards for friends and family. Sharing kind words and photos with neighbours and loved ones will provide lasting memories and help to tackle loneliness during this period of isolation.

To learn more about mindfulness visit https://www.headspace.com/mindfulness

Or if you require more specific or emergency mental health advice visit

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

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