LISA DUNBAR'S HEALTH HACKS

Top tips for minding your mental health this month

"At the beginning of every month, I have been giving you a few tips on simple things you can do to improve your mood and overall mental health."

Lisa Dunbar

Reporter:

Lisa Dunbar

Email:

tia.clarke@dundalkdemocrat.ie

Top tips for minding your mental health this month

Lisa Dunbar

At the beginning of every new month I have been giving you a few tips on simple things you can do to improve your mood and overall mental health. Here are some things you can think about trying this June…

Spring Clean!
Ok, so now that we are in June and I think it is technically summer this month, we may have missed the boat on the spring cleaning! But cleaning is not just for spring time. Whether it is spring, summer, autumn or winter, there is always a good reason to do a bit of a clear out in your home.
Clutter and mess can cause such stress and overwhelm and research has actually shown that people who live in tidier, more organised homes are overall much healthier – both physically AND mentally!
I recently watched a programme on Netflix about minimalism and it really made me think about all the ‘stuff’ in my house that I really don’t need.
This is what will be guiding me as we embark on a massive clear out to make some space for our first baby that’s due in September. So why don’t you join me and roll up the sleeves and get stuck into a bit of decluttering in your own home!

Use Lavender


Certain scents have an amazing ability to evoke emotions and memories. The smell of freshly cut grass always makes me excited for the summer months. The smell of chlorine always reminds me of days out in Mosney as a child!
Some scents also have an incredible ability to affect us physically. Lavender is well known for its calming and relaxation properties. It has become one of my go-to remedies for dealing with stress and anxiety.
I simply open the bottle of lavender oil, hold it close to my nose and take a few deep breaths. It is very effective! My husband has already been instructed that when I am labour, his main job will be to hold the lavender bottle under my nose!
I also put a drop of lavender on my pillow at night and it really helps me to unwind and fall asleep. I do the same thing when sleeping in a hotel or someone else’s home and it is a great way of making my body feel immediately at ease in a strange bed.
So, give it a try! You can get lavender oil in any local pharmacy.

Face Your Fears
As non-drinkers, my husband and I used to go to the cinema a lot. But then at the height of my anxiety, I had a panic attack during a movie.
I then avoided going back, even for a long time after my mental health improved.
It’s really important to step outside our comfort zone sometimes and not live in fear of certain places or situations, especially if there is actually nothing to fear! I’ve recently returned to the cinema, and I was absolutely fine!
It is a sort of weight off my mind to not have to be afraid of someone asking me to go to the cinema with them anymore, and also a great sense of achievement.
As the saying goes, every day you should do something that scares you. I’m not suggesting that you have to go parachute out of a plane or sign up for a bungee jump, but if you think about it there are probably some places or situations that you avoid out of fear.
Why not try and face some of those fears this month?

Laugh
I was really sad to read that on average a young child laughs 300 times a day, while an adult only laughs on average 17 times a day! Because it’s true what they say – laughter really is the best medicine!
As well as helping to reduce physical pain, improve blood flow and boost our immune system, laughter actually makes us feel happy and relaxed and helps us deal with stress.
Amazingly, even ‘forced’ laughter is shown to have the same benefits as ‘real’ laughter. This is why there is such a thing as ‘Laughter Yoga’, a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter, whereby the forced laughter eventually turns into real, genuine, contagious laughter.
I can’t say I have ever tried laughter yoga, but when stress or anxiety strikes me, I head straight for YouTube and watch some snippets of Irish comedian Jason Byrne to entice some real, spontaneous laughter!