World Mental Health Day 2020 Twitter Takeover Q&A Pt. 2
Emma McDonald answers your question on alleviating stress amidst the second wave of Covid restrictions
As part of our Twitter Takeover for World Mental Health Day, WWTW Head Start Therapist, Emma McDonald answered your questions about coping with bad news, ways to alleviate stress, and keeping mentally fit during the increase in Covid-19 cases.
Q. What advice do you have for someone who struggles with ‘taking on all the world’s problems’, and getting overwhelmed with all the bad news?
A. It is overwhelming this year, I would absolutely encourage people to consider limiting media exposure and choosing more factual sources as opposed to newspapers or news channels where possible.
Also bring it back to focus on what is inside my control e.g. I can’t control COVID but I can control my actions. I can’t control the Government, but I can sign petitions/speak to my MP.
Q. Is there any scientific correlation between mental health and sporting activities?
A. Yes, there is evidence that Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphins are released during exercise which has positive impact upon our mental health, in particular our mood.
A study in the Lancet found individuals who exercised had 1·49 (43·2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise.
Broken down further, the study showed, the largest associations were seen for popular team sports (22·3% lower), cycling (21·6% lower), and aerobic and gym activities (20·1% lower), as well as durations of 45 min and frequencies of three to five times per week.
Q. On the day I exercise, I’m fine in the evenings. However, when I’m not able to exercise my mind tends to be more active at night. Is there anything I can do to help me relax a little more?
A. I'm definitely hearing exercise helps you buts its so tough as we cannot exercise 24/7! You can make yourself a soothing playlist of sounds or music tracks or check out some free meditation and mindfulness tips here.
Q. Can you recommend any activities people can do at home to alleviate stress?
A. As the winter draws in this will be important. Listening to music, watching your favourite feel good film, watching comedy, having a bath, making the environment cosy e.g. with candles, time with pets, drawing, finding a free learning course online!
Q. Do you know of a useful place to find resources to help some understand that it is normal to get overwhelmed at times?
A. Yes the programme, Togetherall, offers a safe space for civilians and/or Armed Forces to speak to others who are struggling with the presence of Counsellors monitoring to ensure such is a safe space, you can remain anonymous too.
Q. What advice would you give to someone supporting a person who says they hate everything about themselves?
A. I’d say first of all listen and be there. I’d avoid providing reassurance as this is counterproductive, use alternative ways of soothing such as touch if they are in your support bubble.
Compassion Focused Therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be helpful. Here’s a guide that may help with the appearance related distress. Also, you can find a resource here on self-compassion.
Pandemic Response: My thoughts are racing. Coping Strategy: Soothe worried feelings by decreasing sensory information—set boundaries with media consumption and identify negative thinking patterns https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/docs/UnhelpfulThinkingHabitsWithAlternatives.pdf
For more self- care resources click here
Find out more about our Head Start programme here