Looking after yourself

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We know that when people feel depressed, anxious or stressed they can often stop looking after themselves, which in turn makes people feel worse. The foundations of wellbeing involve practicing self-care and 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 in the next few weeks.

Caffeine

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 also be reduced and switching to decaf versions can be a healthier alternative.

Healthy balanced diet

It is beneficial to eat little and often and 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 and so eating well can help you to feel well.

Hobbies and interests

Often people stop doing these things when they are depressed and anxious, which is understandable, however this often leaves people feeling worse. Setting aside half an hour for yourself each day to do something relaxing or something that you really enjoy, and doing this every day can help you to feel better. Try to 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 and they worry that other people will not understand. However, talking to other people will help you to feel more supported. Sharing your feelings or problems can reduce stress and can help to realise that other people may feel the same as you do.

Reducing alcohol

Sometimes people will use alcohol to cope with upsetting feelings, but alcohol is a depressant. It can affect whether antidepressant medications are able to work and will also affect the quality of sleep you get. It will leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day as well, 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 and 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 then start with something smaller than this and build yourself up. 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 and getting a good night’s sleep is helpful. Try to keep a good bedtime routine and get up at a similar time each morning, even at the weekends. Try to avoid the use of mobile phones, tablets, laptops or watching TV in bed as they are known to over stimulate the brain. Avoid having naps in the day as even ten minutes can hugely affect your ability to be able to get to sleep that night. Make sure your bed, and bedroom, are comfortable and the right temperature for you.

Medication

Medication can be helpful sometimes to improve how you are feeling and 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 in any of these areas, please discuss this with your therapist when you see them. They will be able to give you further information or signpost you to other organisations who may be able to help.

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