After 18 months of unprecedented events, periods of isolation and overall health challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is unsurprising that so many people have struggled with their mental health and wellbeing.
In fact, new studies have revealed that the fear of transmitting Covid-19 has led to an increase in psychological symptoms, such as low mood, confusion, stress, and anxiety among individuals who have never previously experienced mental illness.
In addition, 63% of Brits are revealed to be facing mental issues amid the pandemic, meaning there is a greater need for the nation to understand and manage their mental health on their own terms.
Dr Juliet Anton, chartered psychologist and founder of new self-help app AskDoc, shares her insights for those struggling with mental health difficulties and provides some top tips on how to understand and manage your mental health as well as how to recognise when further assessment and/or specialised support is required.
Recognise the symptoms
Keep a mood diary to help you recognise how your mood is affected on a day-to-day basis. Whether you’re feeling increasingly agitated, emotional, nervous, restless, or even lonely and isolated from others, these can all impact your mental wellbeing and shouldn’t be ignored. Self-help apps can be a great way of identifying these symptoms.
Be kind to yourself
Our inner voice can sometimes be quite cruel, as we tell ourselves we should be stronger or less emotional in certain situations – but we wouldn’t speak like this to our loved ones, so why do we say things like this to ourselves? Learning to be kinder to yourself is essential for those struggling with mental health as you can then work on lifting yourself up instead of putting yourself down.
Open up to someone you trust
Even though you may feel it sometimes, you are not a burden to your loved ones and your feelings are valid. Make sure to reach out to your support system when you’re feeling low, whether a friend, your mum or even a mental health professional.
Sometimes when our mental health falters we can feel like we are bothering people with our problems – if this is the case for you, there are many ways to manage your mental health including self-help apps where you can manage your mental health on your own terms. Alternatively, you can speak to a medical professional or GP if you don’t feel you can speak to your loved ones – so it’s important to remember that you always have someone there to help you.
Use cognitive behavioural therapy
Much like the rest of our body, when our brain is suffering, you need to seek help from a qualified professional. The AskDoc app aims to normalise seeking help even when you haven’t considered it in the past, using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you on your journey. CBT encourages you to talk about your difficulties in terms of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. People often assume their mental health problems aren’t bad enough to seek help, but it’s better to face them head on rather than to let them build up until you reach the end of your tether.
Feelings won’t last forever
When feeling sad or low, we often think it’s going to stay with us forever, but there is a reason we call them mood swings. Low moods rarely last forever and when you can feel a dark cloud coming over, it’s important to remember that by speaking to others, sharing your emotions and taking some time to relax, these things will help to lift your mood. It’s important to be patient with yourself and use the support systems around you.
And there you have it, five tips and techniques to help you understand and improve your mental health. Remember you’re not alone and it’s important to open up and speak to the people you trust who may be able to help you.
The AskDoc app is available to download for free through the Apple Store (for iPhone) and Google Play (for Android), with access to specialist courses from an expert psychologist, starting from just £5.