With the added pressures of lockdown taking their toll on people in Swansea, the term Blue Monday carries extra weight this year.
But, if lockdown, darker evenings and January bills are bringing you down, help is on hand, and there are lots of things you can do to help yourself through this difficult time.
Of course, many people are struggling at the moment far beyond the reach of Blue Monday, which falls on January 18 this year, but the date, in normal times, has become recognised as the day when a ‘perfect storm’ of factors combine to be what is considered many people’s lowest day of a normal year.
And having a designated day does give people an added opportunity to discuss and support each other with their emotional health during the difficult winter months, especially this year.
The Welsh Government is encouraging people in Swansea to ‘help us, help you’ by practising self-care and adopting small changes to help protect and improve mental well-being, particularly at a time when levels of anxiety are higher than before the pandemic.
It comes as research (YouGov) reveals that more than half of people in Wales (55 percent) say their mental well-being has deteriorated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Welsh Government spends more on mental health than on any other aspect of the NHS – with more than £700million invested annually.
This has been supported recently by additional funding of almost £10million in a range of initiatives including SilverCloud, an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy service; the CALL mental health helpline and the BEAT eating disorders helpline. The support is easy to access and doesn’t need a referral from a GP.
Professor Jon Bisson, Deputy Director of the National Centre for Mental Health (NCMH) and Director of Traumatic Stress Wales, said: “There are several important ways to help reduce the risk of developing mental health consequences due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Eating healthily, taking exercise on a regular basis, keeping regular sleeping patterns, establishing a good structure for our days, and engaging in relaxing activities are always important to promote health and wellbeing.
“During this time of severe isolation for many, social support is a key part of staying well. Thankfully, we have lots of ways to maintain contact with people even if it can’t be in person.
“And we have a number of resources available on our website that we hope will help you be informed about your mental health, and help you stay well during the pandemic – at www.ncmh.info.”
The advice from the Royal College of Psychiatrists for self-care and staying well are:
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- Eat a balanced diet
- Get regular exercise every day (using online exercise classes if the weather is bad, YouTube has lots of free options)
- Set a daily routine to provide structure to your day
- Set a to do list, with easily achievable goals
- Stay in touch with people over the phone or internet
- Keep taking medicines if they have been prescribed for you
Professor Bisson added: “I would like to stress that if you are experiencing a mental health crisis or feel the need for additional support, please do ask for help.
“Some of us will need more formal input and services remain available and are keen to provide this.”
For free advice and support on how to look after your mental wellbeing please visit: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/how-are-you-doing/
For children and young people please visit: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/how-are-you-doing/children-and-young-people/
(Lead image: Alex Green / Pexels.com)
People in Swansea Give Their Self-Care Tips That Help Them Get Through January
We asked people in Swansea for the tips on what they do to help lift their spirits in January, and during lockdown.
“Catch up on sleep. I’m using the dark nights in January to catch up on my sleep. It’s much easier to feel positive if I’m well rested.”Sarah from Bonymaen
“Still have some fun! I miss going to gigs, but there is an online radio show I tune into every Friday without fail. I look forward to it all week and I treat it like a gig – I dress up, I do my makeup, I Tweet about the show, I might email a request in to the presenter, I dance. It is only me and the dogs in the house. They are used to this behaviour now!”Kate from Penlan
“Practice mindfulness and being grateful every day. I’m working from home and home-schooling, so life is very hectic for us all. But, despite the pressures, I take some time every day to think about how the children are enjoying having so much more mum and dad time, and how in some ways, we are learning from them to find enjoyment from doing things together at home, as a family, rather than going out for an evening with other people.”Jane from Mumbles
“Learn a new skill. I have learned to bake. There has been some trial and error involved but I’m making quite elaborate cakes now that I wouldn’t have attempted a few months ago. It gives me a real sense of achievement; I share the photos online and people are very positive about them and my boyfriend likes having a steady supply of treats in the house!”Rebecca from Birchgrove
“Stay in touch with friends and family. My family all live abroad but I make sure I keep in touch with them every day, just so we can chat about our day, and I watch one of the TV programmes, online, that I know my mum will be watching, so I feel we are doing something together.”Steve from Uplands:
“Focus on giving and making connections with new people. I have volunteered to be a telephone befriender for a charity that looks after isolated older people. I call John once a week and it is my job to keep the conversation positive and enjoyable, to create a genuine friendship and to steer the conversation away from any topics that might bring him down. It has really helped me to focus on the positive and to keep my own outlook as bright as I can, and I have made a good friend, who I find really interesting, in the process.”James from Clydach
“Get outside in the daylight every day. I have been following an online exercise plan, which is making me feel better, but I also make sure I get outside while it is light, with my crazy dog. Dogs make you laugh several times a day. If you don’t have one, borrow one from a friend or neighbour!”Huw from Mayals
“Meditate. I am dipping in to the Headspace.com daily meditation sessions. They only take a few minutes and they make me feel more in control of my emotions and my day.”Lisa from Morriston