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Top 10 tips for a Great Mental Health Day 2023

This Friday (27 January) is Great Mental Health Day (GMHD) in London and, this year, the theme is community kindness. A local centre doing great work for more than two decades has shared its tips for good mental health.

The Solace Centre in West Ealing has been connecting people in the community for the past 27 years, aiming to combat loneliness and isolation. Solace provides a vibrant and popular community of members and staff.

Catherine Bingham, the centre’s interim manager, shared its top 10 tips to help brighten your day.

Catherine said:

  1. Connecting with others – at Solace we encourage people to connect more, why not challenge yourself to phone a friend who you haven’t spoken to recently, smile at a stranger or start a conversation with the person scanning your shopping?
  2. Be in the present moment – when we centre in the here and now, undistracted by the past or worries about the future, it helps us engage fully with others and our happiness. How about building this skill for a few minutes a day? At Solace, we run a weekly wellbeing group but there’s also the Headspace app
  3. Dance like no one’s watching – Solace staff and members recently organised a Christmas Silent Disco event and 55 attendees joined us like we have done before. One of our members, Jill, said to us ‘Solace was rocking, having fun – thank you, this makes such a difference to my mental health.’ (Another, Phil, said: ‘These events brighten our spirits and keep us optimistic. Solace is a family, and like all families, it’s great when we get together and celebrate.’ And a third, Susan, told us: ‘Good music, good feelings. Helps you forget your problems for a while.’ Everyone said boogying the night away helped reduce stress and create feel good energy – so, why not put on a tune and have a boogie around the kitchen?
  4. Take the time to actively listen to music – music releases dopamine (positive feelings) which makes us feel good. How about asking someone what their favourite piece of music is and then have a listen, as you may be surprised? At Solace we have a weekly music appreciation group bringing people together to share tunes.
  5. Look after your body – the food we eat affects our gastrointestinal systems, which are directly tied to our brains and the way we process emotions. How about eating a bit more of the brain boosting foods, e.g. oily fish, nuts or a couple pieces of dark chocolate, and trim back on the bigger calorie items, e.g. crisps and biscuits?
  6. Experiment with developing a skill – when Solace was awarded National Lottery money to help re-design our garden, many of our members lacked in the confidence and didn’t think they had the skills, but were surprised with what they achieved when they gave it a go.
  7. Exercise – Walking has been proven to lower stress, increase endorphins, improve problem solving capabilities and reduce brain fog. This time of year, getting out in the mornings when it’s crisp and bright can bring a lot of positivity.
  8. Art therapy – this can give you the opportunity to express your inner thoughts, while helping you to better understand and make sense of your emotions and your mental health. At Solace, our weekly art group is our most popular group.
  9. Quizzes – challenge yourself or help build on your concentration with quizzes. We offer these or you could go onto Sporcle.com for all sorts of quizzes.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed – no-one has to be alone, there is potential support out there, if someone reaches out, give them your full attention, be an open ear as it makes all the difference. At Solace we encourage talking, listening and sharing to support one another emotionally and practically.”

Getting help

Mental Health professionals and GPs can make a referral for anyone with a mental health diagnosis who would benefit from more social interaction. If you live in the borough, you can request a referral to the Solace Centre.

The Solace Centre is part of the Equinoxcare charity, which helps to combat loneliness and isolation through social inclusion – connecting people with mental ill-health. It is an out-of-hours service that is funded by Ealing Council and works in partnership with West London NHS Trust.

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