Today is Time to Talk Day (3 February) – the nation’s biggest mental health conversation, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, in partnership with the Co-op.
It’s the day that friends, families, communities, and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives.
Why Time to Talk Day is important
- One in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year.
- We want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health – whenever they like.
- Talking about mental health helps to create supportive communities where we can talk openly about mental health and feel empowered to seek help when we need it.
- Opening up the conversation about mental health problems is important – by talking about it, we can support ourselves and others.
5 Tips for talking about mental health
1 Ask questions and listen
Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgmental, like “how does that affect you?” or “what does it feel like?”
2 Think about the time and place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!
3 Don’t try and fix it
It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
4 Treat them the same
When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.
5 Be patient
No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.
Benefits of movement on mental health
Getting the right amount of movement each week is important to good mental wellbeing. Whenever we do exercise, our bodies release endorphins to reward us.
Endorphins are the body’s pleasure chemicals, making us feel good, encouraging us to keep exercising. However, each time we do some exercise, the amount of endorphins we receive is reduced, which motivates us to do more or try something different; so if you are a finely tuned athlete you will need to do more exercise to get more feel-good rewards. But for most people, just doing thirty minutes of exercise a few times a week is enough to significantly improve mood.
Research shows that regular exercise can be just as effective as medication at lifting depression and reducing anxiety. However, with exercise, you don’t have the potential unpleasant side effects and it can be effective at raising mood much more quickly than medication.
Reasons to exercise with a friend or partner
Walking and talking
Just doing something as simple as going for a walk with a friend can improve your physical and mental health, plus it’s a great time to chat about mental health too.
You’re more likely to stick with it
We’re all guilty of coming up with a 100 reasons why we can’t exercise or move more, but having a friend depend on you to make it, to go for that walk, to go to the gym or a class can mean all the difference. A University of Aberdeen study found working out in pairs spurs us to exercise more, as we offer each other emotional support and encouragement.
You’ll burn more calories
A Virgin Active study showed that women who workout with friends burn up to 236 calories per session, compared to the 195 for women who prefer to go it alone.
You’ll feel pushed to try new things
A study published in Nature Communications revealed exercise is ‘socially contagious’ and we are often inspired by others to try new exercises and routines. Exercising together can make the challenge more exciting and gives you the confidence to try something new together. Plus, there are plenty of exercises that are better as a duo.
You’ll feel closer as friends
A recent study by Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology proved that group exercise builds stronger bonds, which in turn helps you perform better. This is because ‘social motion’ or coordinated movement such as warming up or using the rowing machine together leads to feelings of togetherness. From one experiment, the study found that athletes who warmed up in sync with others were nearly seven seconds faster, suggesting teams with a good bond have a high chance of performing at their best.