World Mental Health Day is a moment for us all to stop, breathe, and turn our attention to something deeply personal yet universally shared – our mental well-being. It’s a day where we come together, each with our own stories, struggles, and triumphs. We break the silence that often surrounds mental health, offering our own experiences as bridges to understanding, compassion, and support.
On this day, we are reminded that we are not alone, that our mental health matters, and that together, we can face the challenges, tackle the issues concerning us and celebrate the victories that come with the journey to mental wellness. Every voice matters, every story counts, and every individual has a place in this global conversation.
With these issues being very much in the media, it is not surprising to find that 2/3 of people in the UK have suffered due to mental health concerns. What makes the problem worse is that a lot of people are still loathe to talk about their problem. In fact research shows that older people are far more likely to keep their worries bottled up and not admit that they have an illness.
Experts say that women over 50 are particularly affected for various reasons. They are expected to work longer and harder; ill health, financial worries and fluctuating hormones can all lead to severe anxiety and depression.
As anxiety rises, self esteem can plummet and the fact that you are older often means you feel less able to cope. Normal tasks can suddenly be daunting, decision making is affected and even meeting up with friends in social situations can be a source of great anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
Globally, the World Health Organisation tells us that 1:4 people are troubled with panic attacks or depression but that the UK rates particularly highly. And the problem seems to be spreading with those aged between 18-54 opening up about their mental health issues whereas, it would appear that people over the age of 50 are not so keen to do so.
Not an isolated problem
Clearly this is not a problem that affects just a minority and at some point in life, many of us are likely to suffer due to a mental health problem. But are we failing to talk about it because we still tend to think of it as a taboo topic that we should not discuss for fear of being labelled? This may explain why only very few people seek professional help and this is why experts say that the main focus should be on preventing mental health issues from occurring in the first place. More should be done to raise awareness of these issues at work and at school.
Statistically, a recent survey showed that 42% of people had suffered from depression and a quarter of the study group had found themselves suffering panic attacks. Overall, 65% reported having had a mental health problem, with only 13% stating that they had a good level of positive mental health and happiness. Those earning less were more prone to problems than the wealthy, with 73% in the former group experiencing poor mental health compared to 59% in the high earnings bracket (income of more than £3701 monthly).
Those out of work also suffer more from mental health problems as do retired people, with women more likely to say that they have had a mental health problem as opposed to men. On the plus side, we over 50s do have a lot going for us; we are far more likely to take care of our diet, sleep and relaxation time than younger people.
What are the key Mental Health Concerns of the Over 50s?
|Mental Health Concerns||Individual Strategies to Address those Concerns|
|Depression||– Educate yourself on symptoms and treatments – Engage in physical activity – Maintain social connections|
|Anxiety Disorders||– Practice relaxation techniques – Join support groups – Avoid excessive caffeine|
|Cognitive Decline and Dementia||– Participate in cognitive exercises – Maintain a balanced diet – Regular health check-ups|
|Loneliness and Social Isolation||– Volunteer in the community – Join clubs or social groups – Stay connected with family and friends|
|Grief and Bereavement||– Seek therapy or counselling – Join bereavement groups – Allow yourself to grieve and express feelings|
|Sleep Disorders||– Establish a sleep routine – Create a restful sleep environment – Avoid stimulants before bedtime|
|Substance Abuse||– Seek professional help for addiction – Avoid illicit drugs – Limit alcohol consumption|
|Body Image and Self-Esteem Issues||– Focus on positive attributes – Avoid comparison with others – Seek therapy if needed|
Talking is key
Talking about mental health problems and getting help and advice from friends and family, as well as professionals, has to be the way to go. Jane, from our editorial team, experienced problems first hand and states:
“I remember suffering a breakdown after burning myself out at work and thinking that I was going crazy, but discussed my symptoms with no-one.”
The Mental Health Foundation are very aware of our natural inclination to keep our mental issues hidden which is why they are pushing for far more mental health screening, more funding for research and even setting up a Royal Commission to look at ways in which to prevent mental ill-health.
Even members of the Royal Family recently commented on their own mental health issues. It would seem as if only good can come of this current focus with the concentration being, not only on looking after the health of our bodies, but also our minds. Talking about it and realising that an illness of the mind is really not so different from an illness of the body, may be the first essential step that we need to take as a nation in order to come to terms with tackling mental health issues head on.
So what positive steps can you take to help your mental health, wellbeing and happiness?
10 Mood boosting tips to lift your spirits
Every one of us gets down in the dumps at times, but how do we make sure that we bounce back up again quickly? We all have our own little mood enhancing tricks to boost our happiness so we thought it would be a great idea to look at just a few of them. Next time you need to lift your spirits, try one or two of these:
Let yourself go
Particularly if you are one of those people that keeps a lid on things all of the time, now and again try not doing so. Being too controlled too much of the time can result in anxiety and sometimes we just need to let ourselves go. This doesn’t mean losing it all together, but just relax, chill out and let those feelings manifest. If you are angry, feel it. If you feel sad, feel it. Let those tears flow down your cheeks unhindered and if your anger coming out means shouting for a short time, vent your frustrations. You may be surprised at how exhilarated you feel afterwards.
Have a clean out
De-cluttering and tidying can be an immensely practical way of boosting your mood. Maybe this is because it puts you in control and in the driving seat. Getting rid of things you no longer need can be exhilarating as you equate it to eradicating old and tired emotions at the same time. If someone else can benefit from your decluttering, all the better! The charity shops will really appreciate your belongings.
Live for the day
If you have a dog, you will know that they are always happy, living for the day and with each walk and play meaning the world to them, even if it is exactly what they did yesterday! They exist in the present moment and love it; when you walk them, they are enjoying the walk as if it’s a whole new experience!. Try doing the same; don’t spend time inside your head buried in negative thoughts. Enjoy the moment, live for the day and enjoy the here and now.
Take some time to think about the good things that happened today, what you have in your life to be grateful for and why you should value these things. All too often we don’t appreciate what we have when we have it. Don’t let this happen to you. Think about how you would feel if you didn’t have these experiences or people around you and give thanks.
Build in some play time
All work and no play can make us dull and also dampen our mood. Make some time to play and have fun; if you have children or grandchildren, get down to their level. Play a game or spend time being light-hearted and gleeful; let their joy and happiness rub off on you. Sadly this may not always be possible but you may be able to speak to your extended family via Zoom or FaceTime.
Whether it’s the garden, nearby meadows, local park or the beach, just go anywhere that you can get some fresh air and feel close to nature. Focus on the birds singing, the sun on your face, trees and plants around you and just let yourself feel energised by Mother Nature.
Enjoy the journey
Life is not all wrapped up into a nice tidy or happy package and at times we can get frustrated because we feel that we are not moving forward as we should or achieving what we need to. Stop being impatient, slow down a little and begin to enjoy the journey; realise that you will get to where you need to go, it may just take a little while longer.
Do something different
Instead of having your usual lunch or dinner, dig out some old recipe books and experiment! If it’s possible for you to go out, take a picnic to the park or just enjoy the same experience in your own garden. Take the dog somewhere different or just break any old habit. Walk instead of drive, phone that person that you have been waiting to call you and get out of the mental rut that we can all fall into at times.
Put some music on
Music is a great mood elevator so wherever you are, get some music on. In the car, whilst working or even while cooking in the kitchen. Whatever gets your heart beating faster, get it on the stereo or radio. Feel free to sing or dance along and go with the flow.
Maybe a luxurious bubble bath, treat yourself to that fillet steak for dinner or settle down to watch a film or box set you’ve wanted to watch for a while. This may be just what is needed to lift your spirits. You don’t have to spend a lot; make some time just for you and indulge yourself. Shower yourself with love and radiate in the glow. You deserve to be pampered so don’t shy away.
Possibly you have your own little trick to elevate your mood when the going gets tough. Whatever it might be, don’t hold back. Sometimes you will have dark days when it will be difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t punish yourself when you feel like this, just wait until you are feeling a bit more positive. Each little step in the right direction will boost your overall happiness and wellbeing. When we feel happy, our mood and therefore our general health both receive a welcome boost so even though it may be difficult at first, try to find a little something to lift your spirits.
If you would like further help or advice, follow this link to the Mental Health Foundation.
We all know someone who could do with a boost to their happiness so Share this article and help them look at things with a new perspective. You’ll feel better too!
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