Keeping on top of your mental health
I’m not what you’d call a ‘Zen person’.
I tried yoga once and got the giggles so badly that the teacher spent the whole class glaring at me – which I maintain wasn’t very Zen of her either.
With that in mind, no one was more surprised than me when I started practising mindfulness.
The thing is that I – like many others – get pretty stressed and anxious sometimes. Thankfully not fully blown anxiety attack anxious, but enough that Zen started to look pretty good.
Next week is Mental Health Awareness Week and whether or not you identify as having mental health issues, feeling stressed and overwhelmed is something most of us can relate to.
One in four people experience mental health problems at stage in their life and unfortunately it can often feel like tech is making the problem worse.
With already frazzled workers checking their phones 24/7, and social media making the most resilient of us feel bad that we aren’t Insta-perfect, it’s easy to see why.
Arguably then, technology has a duty to help provide a solution too.
Sometimes it’s just about realising that it can create supportive communities and a platform to tackle stigma.
The Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon recently interviewed Prince Harry for her mental health podcast Mad World. The incredible reaction to the interview shows the British public clearly feel they finally have something in common with the Royal Family.
There’s also talk of artificial intelligence bots that can help diagnose mental health issues faster than a doctor, or tell if someone is at home and depressed by looking at things like how often they check their phone.
Researchers from Harvard and Vermont have even managed detect depression on Instagram with 70 per cent accuracy by using AI to analyse everything from user’s expressions in pictures to the colour filters they choose.
I use the Headspace app to help keep me focused with my mindfulness. It teaches you the basic techniques in a simple way and offers themed packs for different scenarios – from self-esteem to running or sleeping.
I also often take the skills ‘offline’ to meditate for a minute without the app when I’m out and about and feel like things are getting on top of me.
The Mental Health Foundation is leading Mental Health Awareness week and their slogan is ‘Good mental health is more than the absence of a mental health problem’, which I think is a great way to look at it.
We might go and exercise our bodies (or at least plan to, in my case) but how many of us take a proactive approach to keeping our minds healthy and happy?
There are loads of gadgets, platforms, podcasts and apps that you can use to do this and, in addition to using these, talking about the problem is something that we cannot do enough.
While obviously tech isn’t a substitute for professional help it makes coping techniques accessible and affordable and can be a great starting point to put people back in control of their mental health.