Struggling with your mental health?

When we experience difficulties with our mental health, it can be alarming, isolating and debilitating. We often find it hard to confide in others and seek help. There’s no shame in struggling and we’ve put together this guide to help.

Firstly, if you’re struggling with your mental health, know that you’re not alone. Anxiety, depression, OCD and eating disorders are just some of the conditions that millions of us in the UK are living with day to day. Tragically, suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. Men are less likely to seek help if they’re struggling, they’re less inclined to share with friends or engage with a doctor. Our mental health is just as important for our wellbeing as our physical health. There’s lots of habits we can build on to strengthen it. 

To gain perspective, if you had a nasty fall and suspected a broken leg, you’d find no shame in getting yourself to the hospital for treatment. It’s likely you’d end up resting for a while and allowing the bone to heal with the aid of a plaster cast. Equally, if you developed a nasty chest infection, you’d likely spend time in bed recuperating while giving the prescribed antibiotics a chance to take action. Would you feel ashamed or weak for doing this? No, none of us would. And yet, with mental health issues, we find ourselves fighting feelings of embarrassment and weakness and at worst, avoiding asking for help altogether. 

See your GP 

If you’re at rock bottom or you’re simply unable to cope, as hard as it is, make an appointment to see your GP. You won’t be wasting time or resources, you are worthy of time and attention and deserve help to get better. Your doctor will sympathetically listen and talk through your problems and decide on a course of treatment. This could be talking therapy or medication. Millions of lives have been saved, and improved with the correct use of medication and it may be that you’ll benefit from taking it. Many of us are weary of medicating mental health issues, we can discuss these concerns with the GP.  

Healthy habits for better mental health 

The good news is, there’s plenty we can do to support our mental health. Let’s not wait until we’re struggling to help ourselves. After all, prevention is better than a cure. 


Many experts prescribe exercise as a prevention and a cure. Exercise produces endorphins which are feel-good hormones that increase our sense of happiness and vitality. It can also aid good sleep which is beneficial to our mental health. If we’re feeling low, sometimes the last thing we want to do is exercise but maybe we do feel up to a brisk walk and talk with a friend. That still counts as exercise and we still reap the benefits. There’s a whole lot you can do to factor extra movement into daily life. Find out more by reading, 4 simple ways you can move your body today 

Alternatively, if you feel the need for structure, joining a class or having a goal to work towards can motivate you. The British Heart Foundation has some great training plans for walking and trekking, and the British Cycling website is a treasure trove of training plans if cycling is more your thing. There’s also the Couch to 5k plan, which will take you from having never run before to running 5k in 9 weeks. 

Eating well 

A balanced diet, packed with colorful fruit and vegetables, lean protein and  whole grains is ideal, but often easier said than done. It’s ok to have the odd treat and indulgence. We all do! Some foods have a long-lasting influence on our mood and mental wellbeing because of the impact they have on the structure and function of the brain.  

Foods that can help our mood: 

  • Proteins like lean beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, beans and lentils contain amino acids. These make up the chemicals our brains need to regulate thoughts and feelings. They also keep us feeling fuller longer. 
  • High fibre food like wholewheat cereals, beans, berries and pears. Our gut often reflects our mood, being slow and sluggish, or working overtime. For healthy digestion we need fibre, fluid and regular exercise. Live yoghurt and probiotics can also help. 
  • Fatty acids Omega-3 & 6 are vital for our brains so eating the right fats is important. Healthy fats are found in foods like oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and eggs. 

Foods that don’t help our mood include: 

  • Sugary foods and processed carbs, high in calories and low in nutrients, they cause spikes in our blood sugars which are then followed by a crash making us feel rotten. 
  • Caffeine, a stimulant that can cause us to feel jittery and experience restless sleep. 
  • Trans fats and other processed oils can cause inflammation in the body which studies suggest can worsen depression. 

Looking after ourselves 

Lots of us are so busy that we don’t really understand what self care is, let alone why we should practice it. Put simply, it’s putting yourself first, showing yourself little acts of loving care. And it’s different for everyone. Small things like making yourself your favourite healthy meal, running yourself a deep bubble bath, getting to bed early, making time to catch up with friends, will all have a positive impact on your wellbeing. You’re worth the effort. 

What’s this got to do with weight loss? 

Imagine our health and wellbeing is a jigsaw, mental health is a large piece of the puzzle. A recent study from Bristol university found a link between high BMI and poor mental health. It’s unsurprising that if we’re unhappy with our bodies, that we may be unhappy or struggling with other things in our lives too. Each element we focus our attention on: fitness, sleep, diet etc, is all part of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up our unique picture of health and wellbeing. None are ‘cure alls’ that will disperse all our problems, but combined together, the right diet, sleep and fitness will give us a good shot at being healthy, both mentally and physically. 

The first step of asking for help can often be the hardest. Confiding in a trusted friend or family member is often a good way to release the burden of your struggles and gain valuable support. Your GP is available to help you. 


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