Herbfacts
Two women talking to represent sharing problems to support mental health

Time to talk: how to reach out if you are feeling low

Anxiety and feelings of depression and low mood are at an all-time high thanks to the isolation of lockdown which is why sharing and talking about feelings is so important.

Editor Jane Garton looks at the benefits of staying connected and the best ways to start the conversation.

Checking in on family, friends and colleagues is always important. But as the lockdown continues and many of us are spending more time by ourselves staying connected is more important than ever. A survey published by the Office for National Statistics last August, for example, revealed that almost one in five adults were experiencing depression (one in 10 before the pandemic).

So why not make Time to Talk Day  (February 4th) the time you get in touch with friends, neighbours and family especially those who are spending lockdown alone. Let them know you are there for them if they would like to share any worries or anxieties about the future or simply to have a reassuring chat.

Phone a friend

Woman making a face time call on her phone

Make that call

Picking up the phone, switching it to video, starting a group chat or even messaging someone on social media lets them know you are there for them and ready to listen.

Listen and reflect

If someone starts taking about any concerns they may have, remember you don’t need to make things right for them or even offer advice. Often just listening and letting them know that you care is enough to help them see things from a different perspective.

Ask questions

Don’t be afraid to ask them how they are feeling and if you suspect they are not telling you the whole story carry on talking as this might encourage them to open up more.

Stay calm

Although it might be upsetting to hear that someone you care about is feeling low or anxious, try to stay calm. This will help them feel calmer too, and show them that they can talk to you openly without upsetting you.

Be patient

You might want to know more details about their thoughts and feelings, or want them to get help immediately. But it’s important to let them decide when the time is right for them to seek support

Look after yourself

Woman holding a red heart

If you are feeling low and anxious yourself Time to Talk day is also an ideal moment for you to share your feelings with family and friends. It can be difficult to open up to people you care about, but it is important to remember there is no stigma to admitting to having a problem especially when admitting it is part of the way forward.

What’s more there is plenty of help out there and finding the right support and treatment is one of the first steps to feeling better.  Alternatively, you may find it easier to approach a professional (such as your GP) first.

Keep in touch

Two friends talking and walking in a park

The people who love you want to support you. If you shut them out, they can’t. If you let them in, you’ll feel much better. Ring a friend and go for a walk within the lockdown rules and regulations. Have a cup of coffee with your partner. You may find it helps to talk about your feelings. Just knowing someone is listening can make a huge difference.

Stay in contact

Talking things through with a friend or family member can help to lessen the burden of your thoughts. Sometimes they may help you to find a solution.

Practise what to say

You could do this in your head or make some notes. Phrases such as ‘I’ve not been feeling like myself lately’ or ‘I’m finding it hard to cope at the moment’ are good starting points.

Be honest and open

It can sometimes feel uncomfortable sharing personal thoughts but explaining how your feelings are affecting your life can help others to understand and in turn benefit you.

Herbal helpers

St John’s wort

ST John's Wort flower with bright blue sky background

St John’s Wort, aka the sunshine herb, is well known for its positive effects on low mood. Always consult your GP before taking as it can interact with some medications.

Rhodiola

Close up of the rhodiola plant

If you are feeling low, tired and generally running on empty, Rhodiola may be the herb for you. Like St John’s wort it helps to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, which in turn helps to improve mood and increase feelings of well-being.

Ginseng

Ginseng root

Ginseng belongs to a group of herbs known as adaptogens, which are thought to help strengthen the adrenals and balance the system generally. It is especially good for boosting vitality and energy, both of which are generally at low levels if your mood is less than sunny.

To find out more and for organisations that can help visit the Time to Talk website.

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