It’s okay to not be okay. Here’s how you can make a difference today, and tips on looking after your own mental health

World Mental Health Day 

The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is Suicide Prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. This is why it is so important to let people know, and to know yourself, that it is okay to ask for help and to reach out. If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation please call the Pieta House 24-hour Freephone helpline on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444. You’re not alone, there is always hope.

Take 40 seconds today to make a difference. Take those seconds to check in with yourself and breathe, or take that time to ask someone if they’re okay. 

Everyday wellbeing 

Mental Health Ireland recommends five simple actions to help you feel and function well, and its worth checking in to see if these small gestures are a part of your everyday life. 

  1. Connect: 

Social contact is essential to our wellbeing. Make sure you have a community around you: 

  • Make a conscious effort every day to connect with your family, friends and colleagues. 
  • Arrange an outing with someone you don’t get to see often enough. You both will appreciate it and feel better.
  • Put the phone down when you’re in company. 
  • Smile or chat with someone beside you on the bus or in a queue. You don’t know how much that little bit of interaction might mean to them. 

2. Be active: 

Physical activity causes a chemical change in the brain that can change your mood, lift your self esteem and protect against depression and anxiety: 

  • Start the day with a walk, so it doesn’t happen that night falls and you haven’t been outdoors. 
  • Plan exercise into your day as a non-negotiable activity in your diary. It’s an important appointment with yourself, so you should show up! 
  • Sign up for something fun with a friend. You might love it, you might be terrible, but you’ll probably have fun and feel that endorphin high. 

3. Take notice: 

Mindfulness is a valuable tool to improve your wellbeing. Try:

  • Connecting with your breathing, noticing when it’s rushed and when it’s calm. 
  • Get outside into nature and acknowledge the changing of the seasons. 
  • Take your time eating a meal with no distractions. 
  • See how your body feels at the end of the work day, and do something that will help you ease the tension of the day. 

4. Keep learning:

Engaging your mind will give you confidence and help boost your self esteem and sense of purpose. Try: 

  • Look up a new recipe and prepare it for loved ones.
  • See if you can take on a DIY project you were going to hand off to someone else. 
  • Have a craft day at home and make something pretty for your home. 
  • Learn a new language, even just some handy phrases you wish you knew last time you were away. 
  • Put down the gritty thriller for now and read a book on a non-fiction topic that interests you. 

5. Give: 

We all know it feels good to help others, but somehow days can go by without us reaching out. Try to incorporate these gestures into your day: 

  • Ask a colleague to join you for a stroll or a coffee. 
  • Offer to help a family member with some housework.
  • Clear out some clutter for the local charity shop. 
  • Look up your favourite charity and actually sign up to help them out. 

Before you go…

It’s Not Okay To Feel Blue (and other lies)

Edited by Scarlett Curtis

Out this month, this collection of essays is something to dip in and out of when you’re looking for hope. This book sees a huge number of inspirational people open up about their mental health. It is full of people who have felt and thought the worst, and know what it is like to hold on and fight to feel better. This hefty tome is at times funny, sad, devastating and brilliant. If you’ve ever felt ashamed about your mental state, or felt alone, this book is an invitation to open up and feel well.