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Mental Health Awareness Week

We know that the current climate may lead to families feeling like they are even more overwhelmed. This is on top of the challenges already faced by carers and people with dementia in day to day life.
However, there are still techniques and activities you can do which can not only help with feeling more relaxed, but also provide valuable moments of connection. This Mental Health Awareness Week Consultant Admiral Nurse, Sharron Tolman, puts forward her mental wellbeing tips for family carers and people with dementia.

Try some breathing techniques. Find time to practice for a few minutes each day at a convenient time for you and see how it feels. Make yourself comfortable and try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, gently and regularly. Keep shoulders relaxed. Place your hand on your stomach. It should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. You can count to four as you breathe in and again to four as you breathe out. Becoming more aware of your breathing and how it feels just spending time with your breath without having to do anything can help to simply be in the present moment. You can also try the ‘Signal Breath’ technique.

Being creative; perhaps baking, painting, drawing or learning something new. Whatever it is, focus on enjoying it. Spend time in nature; in the garden, walking through a park or forest or any green space and take notice of what is around you; the flowers, plants or even just the air moving past you as you walk.

Give yourself some ’worry time’. Set aside a specific time to focus on your worries. Try writing them down in a diary, notebook or keep them in a jar. Writing things down can help you notice any triggers or patterns and help manage your worries. Keep a note of the good things too and what is going well.

It can help to talk to someone you trust – healthy relationships and staying connected with others is important for your mental health. Whilst the restrictions in place may not make it possible to meet up with loved ones as readily as in the past, there are a few things you can do to stay connected. Try setting up a regular video or phone call. You could also write letters or send a care package with something they can feel, smell, see or hear to remind them you are thinking of them, such as a photo album.