It’s Valentine’s Week, a time to celebrate love, whether it’s with a partner or spending quality time with friends and family. Now should be a time to focus on feeling good and expressing gratitude for everyone in our lives.
However, news stories in the UK have shown that the number of mental health calls to the NHS has soared by 580% in four years, leading to a “mental health epidemic”, according to new figures, and highlighting the extent of the mental health crisis.
The statistics show that NHS 24 received 20,434 calls in 2019, up to 139,008 calls in 2022. There are many factors to consider as to why the numbers have significantly increased since the pandemic. These alarming figures reflect the time we live in, with stress and mental tensions being at their highest due to the cost-of-living crisis, the war in Ukraine, and social and economic changes since 2020.
Recent UK government reports also show the systemic crisis and underfunding of mental health services. Government cuts to community mental health and wellbeing services, including counselling, mean that many more people are struggling with their mental health and unable to get help or support. All of this can make people feel helpless and alone.
More than ever, self-care is essential for taking good care of your mental and emotional wellbeing during these times. It begins with treating our mind and body right so we can cope with anything life demands.
Our founder Robert Redfern created Naturally Healthy News with the intention of ‘helping people to help themselves’. A significant part of his work, was informing people of the latest in natural health solutions supported by scientific research. Following a healthy lifestyle and getting the right nutrients, are simple ways that you can follow to achieve a healthy body and mind.
That’s why we’ve put together some of our top mental health tips, so you can give your mind and body the support it needs during times of high stress or emotional demand…
Easy Lifestyle Recommendations You Can Follow For Stress Relief
1. Take a Deep Breath
Breathing is essential for life, as it carries oxygen and vital nutrients around our bodies. By breathing correctly from the diaphragm, we can deeply relax and release anxiety, stress and tension. Following a simple breathing technique is an easy way to relax. We recently wrote about the importance of deep breathing which you can read about here. You can also see a video of our founder, Robert demonstrating a simple breathing technique you can use every day – See Part 1 and Part 2 here.
2. Keep Moving
Ensuring you regularly move with exercise is essential as it allows the blood to flow freely around the body. Simple activities such as walking, swimming or cycling are gentle enough that you can do them daily. Physical exercise can also activate your body’s endorphins, helping you to feel good.
3. Try Nutrients such as L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine
Studies have shown that nutrients such as L-Tryptophan can help to create positive changes in people’s moods while reducing symptoms of stress and depression. One small study found that adults who consumed high levels of Tryptophan, experienced significant improvements in their moods compared to those on a low tryptophan diet. Consuming dietary Tryptophan has also resulted in fewer symptoms of depression and decreased anxiety. 
L-Theanine has also been found to promote relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety levels in controlled trials. Five randomised controlled trials have found that L-Theanine was associated with reduced stress and anxiety in people experiencing stressful situations. 
4. Try Mindfulness
A lot has been written about the benefits of mindfulness practice. There are simple mindfulness practices that you can use to reduce your stress levels. One study found that mindfulness training was as effective as antidepressant medications in preventing depression relapse.  Simple mindfulness techniques include meditating by focusing on your breath, self-massage and practising progressive muscle relaxation.
One natural compound known as SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) is an amino acid that can help to produce serotonin and dopamine, chemicals that regulate our moods.  Taking a SAM-e supplement is beneficial if your levels of these chemicals are low due to stress or other factors such as a poor diet or a lack of sleep.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Research shows that deep sleep is a natural way to ease anxiety. Getting a good night’s sleep can reduce stress, helping you to feel relaxed and prepared for the day ahead.
Simple tips you can follow for relaxation include sticking to a sleep schedule, creating a restful environment to sleep in, and limiting your use of blue light-emitting devices, such as mobile phones or computers before bedtime. For best health, we recommend sleeping at least eight hours each night.
7. Connect with Others
Spending time with others is essential for your mental and emotional well-being. As humans, we need to feel seen, heard and supported for who we are. Studies show that when we spend time with others in social situations, even listening and offering support to a friend or relative, for example, can be a strong protective factor against depression. 
We hope you find these self-care tips helpful. Following these self-care recommendations can help you to feel as prepared as possible for whatever the future holds. Remember, taking time for yourself during these challenging times isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential.
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