When it comes to promoting positive mental health, there are some basic habits and behaviors that can really help - from eating more healthily, to being physically active, getting outdoors and away from screens, and spending quality time with friends and family.
But they’re not the only things you can do.
To mark World Mental Health Day 2021 (Sunday 10 October), we thought we’d take a look at some of the more unusual and fun ideas that can help relieve stress and provide a good mood boost.
How do the Koalaa team deal with stress?
For starters, we thought we’d ask the Koalaa team to share what makes them happy and how they personally deal with the stresses and strains of daily life.
Nate (head honcho)
“For me, it’s long walks near trees and preferably water. I live near a canal and the sound of water saved me during lockdown! I also use the Headspace app when things get really foggy, or a problem is praying on my mind more than it should. And I always feel good and energised for the day if I do 10-15 minutes exercise at home in the morning. Other than that, it’s just protecting time in the evenings and weekends to hang with the people I love and that usually does the trick.”
Amy G (Limb Buddy)
“When I'm stressed out, I still use a breathing technique I learnt when giving birth! I close my eyes, focus on any sounds around me and then breath slowly in for 4 seconds and then slowly out for 6-8 seconds. I do this four times and suddenly the world is a calmer place!”
Elena (designer and super organiser)
“As well as running, which is always good for relieving stress, I like to spend time being creative. Crochet is something I particularly enjoy, and I make a lot of toys and baby clothes for friends and family. I also like painting - usually animals and trees.”
Nicole (marketing supremo)
“When I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I go to the beach and dip my feet in the ocean. Summer or winter, this is what grounds me.”
Sanish (product designer extraordinaire)
“If I’m stressed I’ll usually binge-watch a new Netflix series, or catch up with some friends at the pub or for a game of tennis.”
Amy A (all things comms)
“I’ve never been great at managing stress but some of the things that work for me are making sure I get enough sleep, playing sport (highly recommend checking out korfball if you haven’t come across it before), reading and I’ve recently become addicted to playing Uno. We also started having a weekly video call with our friends when lockdown hit and we’ve continued with that. We’ll play games, catch up on each other’s news and generally do a lot of laughing! A very welcome escape from the stresses of the week.”
Ideas for giving yourself a good mood boost
· Indulge in some pet therapy – Studies show that interacting with animals can help decrease stress. That’s because playing with or petting an animal increases levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol. If you can’t grab a cuddle in person, here’s a video that may help in the meantime.
· Be brave - Do something unexpected that pushes you outside your comfort zone. Setting yourself a challenge and going for it can be an exhilarating experience. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a little thing, start small and then build up to something bigger.
· Book in a daily 10 minutes of calm – Locking yourself away for 10minutes everyday purely to focus on being calm can be a great way to clear the mind. Different types of relaxation will suit different people, so don’t be disheartened if the first thing you try isn’t right for you. Test out a few different methods. For example:
· Have a laugh – Laughter really can be great medicine. When was the last time you had a full-on belly laugh? While we can’t guarantee they’ll achieve that reaction, they may cause a smile, so check out these top rated jokes from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
· Think of a random act of happiness – Surprise a friend or loved one. It’s amazing how good it can make you feel to do something kind for another person. And who doesn’t love a surprise!
And finally, embrace your inner 5-year-old!
o Live in the moment
o Sing at the top of your voice
o Dance like a crazy thing
o Get messy (baking, painting, anything goes!)
o Head outdoors for some play time
o Book in some playdates with friends
o Hit the library and get lost in a book
o Get your Blue Peter skills on by making something
o Use your imagination
o Talk, talk and talk some more
Help and support
If you’re struggling, please remember you’re not alone. A great place to start is contacting your GP and you’ll also find some fantastic support organisations, listed on our Resources page. You may also like to take a look at our blog: Shining a light on the issue of mental health and the limb difference community.
In times of crisis, the Samaritans are always just a phone call away. Dial 116 123. It’s free, anonymous and they're always open.