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Positive Mental Health and Well-Being

Mental health is more than the absence of a mental health condition or illness: it is a positive sense of well-being, or the capacity to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.Mental health impacts each and every one of us. We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. People living with a mental health issue or condition can experience positive mental health, and an individual may experience poor mental health without a mental health condition. Mental health is not fixed. It is influenced by a range of factors, including our life experiences, workplace or other environments, and the social and economic conditions that shape our lives (or the social determinants of mental health).

Action can be taken to promote positive mental health for individuals and communities at the individual, community and system level. At the individual and community level, mental health promotion strategies focus on enhancing individuals’ empowerment and participation and can target a range of environments or settings, such as the workplace, home, school or community. These strategies primarily seek to strengthen factors that protect positive mental health, lessen risk factors for poor mental health and/or address the social determinants of health. At the system level, strategies focus on addressing the social determinants of health and must involve work across a range of sectors and policy areas, such as housing, employment, social assistance, settlement and others.

The Benefits of taking a walk

Any kind of exercise is good for physical and mental health but we can all take the first steps to fitness through a daily walk. It doesn’t have to be a marathon just start with a stroll. Just getting out of the house and getting some fresh air works wonders. Whether you live in a built-up area or in the countryside there are always walks on your doorstep.

Don’t look on walking as a chore but as a pleasure. Don’t rush out and plod round in a resentful cloud but stroll out and take notice of your surroundings. Only venture out as far as you feel comfortable and happy with and perhaps increase this distance as you gain confidence and enjoyment. You don’t need any special equipment or kit just a pair of flat shoes and perhaps a hat and coat for colder days. Look on your time out as relaxation time or ‘my time’ to escape from housework or stresses.

There are many things to interest you as you walk. If you are in town then looking at other people’s gardens can lift your spirits and give your ideas for your own. It can also be an eye-opener to realise just how much nature there is to be found in built-up areas. Birds in trees, butterflies and urban foxes are just a few of the creatures you may see as you stroll. Take a look at other people’s front doors. What colour are they, what kind of people could like behind them, do they appear to take care of their home? You can tell so much about the people who live in the house from the way it looks on the outside. Give passers by a little smile – you may be surprised how, by cheering others, you feel cheered too.

If you feel that you are physically unfit and that a walk would be beyond you then please think again. Taking a gentle walk is within your capabilities. You can start simply by walking down your garden and back – take a look at the flowers, lawn or vegetables as you go and try to enjoy the experience. Once you have tried this and feel comfortable with it try doing it twice or even three times gradually building your strength and confidence. Very soon you will feel that a little stroll down the road is possible and would be equally enjoyable.

It is also important to try to builds a routine into your walking – you may have one time of day that is the most convenient so use that time. You may not have enough time to walk every day but try to do it two or three times a week and stick to a plan. Routine in our days helps to put some structure into our lives.

“An obvious way to improve mental health is via daily walks.”- Andrew Weil

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Attention helps us to concentrate and focus on what we want and need to do. Some of us experience problems in maintaining our focus on most things, but maybe also have the ability to focus really well and for long periods of time on things or activities which really interest us.Adults and young people with ADHD can therefore struggle in several key areas; as a result of a neurobiological imbalance which itself arises mostly due to genetic factors. These difficulties can impact on our mental health, causing stress & frustration, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Individuals with ADHD may also experience relationship difficulties, debt, and can also have a vulnerability to substance misuse. However, the news isn’t all negative! There are thought to be many positive factors to ADHD, including high energy, creativity, innovative thinking, high motivation, the ability to hyper-focus.

A child with ADHD inattentive type has most or all of following symptoms, excluding situations where these symptoms are better explained by another psychiatric or medical condition:

  • Be easily distracted, miss details, forget things, and frequently switch from one activity to another
  • Have difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Become bored with a task after only a few minutes, unless doing something enjoyable
  • Have difficulty focusing attention on organizing and completing a task or learning something new
  • Have trouble completing or turning in homework assignments, often losing things (e.g., pencils, toys, assignments) needed to complete tasks or activities
  • Seem to not be listening when spoken to
  • Daydream, become easily confused, and move slowly
  • Have difficulty processing information as quickly and accurately as others
  • Struggle to follow instructions
  • Have trouble understanding minute details

A child with ADHD hyperactive-impulsive type has most or all of the following symptoms, excluding situations where these symptoms are better explained by another psychiatric or medical condition:

  • Fidget and squirm in their seats
  • Talk nonstop
  • Dash around, touching or playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Have trouble sitting still during dinner, school, doing homework, and story time
  • Be constantly in motion
  • Have difficulty doing quiet tasks or activities
  • Be very impatient
  • Blurt out inappropriate comments, show their emotions without restraint, and act without regard for consequences
  • Have difficulty waiting for things they want or waiting their turns in games
  • Often interrupt conversations or others' activities
    • Symptoms of hyperactivity tend to go away with age and turn into "inner restlessness" in teens and adults with ADHD.

All about sleep

There are many reasons for not sleeping well which may include distress, physical discomfort or physical illness.Sleep needs vary. A baby starts life needing 16 hours or so of sleep each day, and the time we need for sleep decreases as we get older; adults and particularly older adults may only need 4-6 hours a night.People's needs vary, but most people feel they need 7-8 hours, whilst others feel they need more.

We might have difficulty getting off to sleep, wake up frequently during the night, or wake early in the morning and not be able to get back to sleep. These all result in our feeling that we haven't slept enough - we feel tired, tense and are likely to worry about not sleeping. This worry can then make it even harder for us to sleep well.

If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you can do to help yourself get a good restful night. These include making changes in:

  • Your environment
  • Your behaviour and routine
  • Your thinking
  • Change your Environment

    Are there any helpful changes you can make?

  • Bedroom too light (or dark)
  • Bedroom too hot or too cold
  • Bedroom too noisy
  • Bed too uncomfortable
  • Partner keeping you awake? (snoring, restlessness)
  • TV, computer, tablet or mobile in your bedroom

Making changes to our environment so that our bedrooms become a restful place for sleeping. Remove excess light (particularly blue light), make sure the temperature is right, and check the bed and pillow are comfortable. If you cannot reduce the noise, then consider ear-plugs designed for sleep use. Remove TV and device screens from your bedroom, and read from a conventional book rather than an e-book on a back-lit screen.

Change your Behaviour
  • Use your choice of relaxation technique before going to bed (whatever works for you)
  • Do not go without sleep for a long time if you can help it. Keep to a regular pattern of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, whether you are tired or not
  • Keep bed for sleep and sex. No watching television, browsing the internet or checking your email or social media.
  • Get some exercise during the day. Try some regular swimming or walking. Avoid exercise late in the evening.
  • Reduce the caffeine (tea, coffee, some soft drinks) in the evening. Try a milky drink instead.
  • Don`t drink a lot of alcohol. It may help you fall asleep, but you are more likely to wake up during the night.
  • Don`t eat or drink a lot late at night. Try to have your evening meal early rather than late.
  • If you have had a bad night, resist the temptation to sleep the next day which will make it harder to get off to sleep the following night.
  • If something is troubling you and there is nothing you can do about it right away, try writing it down before going to bed and then tell yourself to deal with it tomorrow.
  • If you cannot sleep, don`t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing like reading or listening to quiet music. After a while you should feel tired enough to go to bed again.
  • Keep a sleep diary for a week. Then you can look back and notice what helps you sleep better and what doesn`t, so you can make positive changes and do more of what helps, and less of what doesn`t. If nothing seemed to help, try something different.
  • Speak to your doctor about your medication and how that might be affecting your sleep.
  • Avoid clock watching when in bed and put your attention somewhere restful