Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week this year runs from Monday 9th May through to Sunday 15th May. Hosted by The Mental Health Foundation for the last 22 years, their chosen theme for 2022 is loneliness, and being aware how mental health is affected by it. With this in mind we should all realise the importance of working towards reducing loneliness in our communities. People ought to use this week as an opportunity to share their experience of loneliness and the impact it can have on mental wellbeing, offering their advice, support and knowledge, including the practical steps we can take to help tackle this growing concern.

Loneliness affects millions of people across the UK every day, and is of key significance to the development of poor mental health. It is of no surprise to learn through research that loneliness is a growing problem that has been heightened through the Covid Pandemic, and negatively impacts both physical and mental health. Lockdowns resulted in many people feeling an increased sense of isolation, state of distress, and disconnect from others. A lot of us now recognise that connections with others and our community is fundamental to our mental health, and that loneliness is an issue that needs to be addressed. We all have a part to play in this.

It is important to recognise that loneliness and being alone do not always equate to the same thing. Some people may choose to live alone and do this quite happily, feeling content without much contact with others. Alternatively some people may have lots of social contact, be part of a relationship or family but still feel loneliness, often this can be the case if a person is not feeling understood or cared for by the others around them.

 Loneliness can have lots of causes such as life event, circumstances or time of year. It can be described in lots of ways and is different for every person. One psychological definition being that a person’s social relationships are perceived by them to be less in quantity and/or quality than they desire. Put more simply, it is a feeling or a state of mind we get when our needs for rewarding social contact and relationships is not being met, and everybody’s needs are different.

Mental health and loneliness are very strongly linked. Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, sleep problems, low self-esteem and increased stress. But mental health can also increase the chance of feeling lonely, for example social anxiety could lead to a lack of social contact and cause feelings of loneliness.

Here are some tips below to help manage loneliness:

-          Join a group or class in your local area. E.g. A book club, art class or exercise group. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests.

 art class

-          Join online groups and activities.

-          Various charities offer telephone or face to face befriender services where volunteers are put in touch with people that are feeling lonely.

-          Join an online community – they provide a space where people can offer support, share their experiences and listen to one another. A lot of these are free and are available 24/7, so if you are struggling they are there any time you need them.

 laptop

-          Try volunteering, for example helping out at a local food bank or charity shop, this is a good way to meet new people and can feel like a very rewarding and productive way to fill in your free time, which can really improve your mental health. Check your local area for volunteering opportunities.

-          Spend time with animals – many people find adopting a pet, particularly cats and dogs reduces the feeling of loneliness, providing companionship and giving them purpose. Walking the dog is a great excuse to get outside in green space and can also help you to meet new people. You could volunteer to walk neighbours dogs locally if it is not possible for you to have a pet of your own.

 dog walking

-          Try to strengthen existing relationships. Open up to friends and family about how you feel. Reach out to them, if they are aware then they can do more to try and help.

-          Take care of yourself: Prioritise getting enough sleep, take care of your diet – eat regular balanced meals and limit alcohol consumption, get regular physical exercise, spend time outdoors in the fresh air – All of this will help with your mood and energy levels.

-          Tackle your anxiety. Try talking therapy or CBT if social anxiety is playing a part and resulting in your feelings of loneliness.

One supplement shown to help with anxiety is Ashwaganhda. For some people social situations can be a source of stress. Stressful environments can increase the levels of cortisol within the body and increase anxiety levels, which can impact a person’s participation and feelings of loneliness. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen known to promote homeostasis, which helps the body to maintain its fine balance in order to cope and promote calmness. One study suggested that a high-concentration full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual's resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life. To find out more information, or to order KSM-66® Ashwagandha click here.

ashwagandha

Supplements recommended for loneliness are those that people take generally to support their mental health and cope with the related difficulties such as anxiety, stress, low mood, poor sleep and depression. These include B vitamins for energy, Magnesium for relaxation effects and Vitamin D of which deficiency has been linked to an increase in depressive symptoms. To order Vitamins and minerals click here.

For additional health news, articles and product information visit Hellenia’s health hub here.