Looking after yourself

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When people feel depressed, anxious or stressed, they can often stop looking after themselves. In turn, this makes people feel worse. The foundations of wellbeing involve practicing self-care. Making sure that you are doing these things can be the first step to improving how you feel. Before you attend your first appointment, try to identify changes that you could make.

Caffeine

Caffeine is found in tea, coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks. As caffeine is a stimulant, drinking high levels can interfere with sleep and leave you feeling on edge. It is advised that you drink no more than 3-4 cups of coffee or 4-5 cups of tea. Energy and fizzy drinks should be reduced and switching to decaf versions can be a healthier alternative.

Healthy balanced diet

It is beneficial to eat little and often. You should aim to maintain a healthy balanced diet. This will help to sustain your energy levels, help to regulate your blood sugars, and reduce cravings. Your body will respond to what you put into it. Eating well can help you to feel well.

Hobbies and interests

Often people stop hobbies when they are depressed and anxious. This often leaves people feeling worse. Setting aside half an hour for yourself each day to do something relaxing or something that you enjoy can help. Start with smaller activities and build yourself up to things that feel harder. For example, start by having a relaxing bath, reading a magazine or watching your favourite film.

Talking to others

Often people don’t talk to others around them because of how they are feeling. This can be because they worry that other people will not understand. Talking to other people will help you to feel more supported. Sharing your feelings or problems can reduce stress and help you realise that other people may feel the same.

Reducing alcohol

Sometimes people will use alcohol to cope with upsetting feelings, but alcohol is a depressant. It can decrease the effectiveness of antidepressant medications and your quality of sleep. It will leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day and it can become addictive. Limit your intake to fourteen units per week. It is advised that you spread this over the week and try to have at least two alcohol free days a week.

Exercise

Exercise increases the feel good chemicals in your brain. It helps you to feel better and give you more energy. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression. It is recommended that you do around two and a half hours of moderate exercise in a week, as well as strength exercises twice a week. If this feels too much to begin with, start with something smaller. Try walking to the shops instead of driving, running up the stairs or doing the housework faster.

Sleep

Having too much or too little sleep can affect how we feel. Try to keep a good bedtime routine and get up at a similar time each morning. Try to avoid the use of mobile phones, tablets, laptops or TV in bed as they are known to overstimulate the brain. Avoid having naps in the day as even ten minutes can affect your ability to be able to get to sleep that night. Make sure your bed and bedroom are comfortable and the right temperature.

Medication

Medication can be helpful sometimes to improve how you are feeling. You may have been prescribed some by your GP. Take this as your GP has recommended and make sure you see them for regular reviews. If you would like further information or feel that you require specialist advice and support, discuss this with your therapist. They will be able to give you further information or signpost you to organisations which may be able to help.

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