From Monday 10th to Friday 16th of May is Mental Health Awareness Week. Mental Health Awareness is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. It is all about having conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. This year we want as many people as possible – individuals, communities, and governments, to be open about their mental health and ways to help improve it.

This seemed particularly important this year – in the year of a pandemic. The year 2020 has proven to be one of the most difficult in recent memory because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The feeling of isolation and loneliness the public have felt due to the lockdown has been proven to affect mental health in significant ways. Mental Health Awareness Week is a way to bring us all together in a way to say that you are not alone. To speak up about mental health troubles and how we are all impacted by it.

Research has shown that being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health at a challenging time. Going for walks outside during fair-weather is proven to improve mental health, easing stress and anxiety. This year we want people to notice and try to make a habit of connecting to nature every day. To stop to listen to birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, notice any trees, flowers, or animals around you. To take a moment to appreciate these connections. Even those little things that people may have taken for granted before can benefit mental health in challenging times.

Another one of the biggest factors in helping improve mental health is getting a good night’s sleep. According to health professionals, the recommended amount of sleep an average adult needs is between 7 to 9 hours a night. And yet roughly 16 million UK adults suffer from problems with sleep, which in turn can affect conditions such as anxiety and depression. Sleeplessness or getting a restless sleep can be one of the factors of such conditions and can truly impact people’s lives.

For those who have trouble sleeping due to stress and anxiety, guided imagery is a very helpful technique to try, proven by health professionals. It is as easy as lying in your bed, getting comfortable and picturing a scene, be it imaginary or a memory, that you find comforting and relaxing. Combining this with relaxing breathing techniques, is a handy way of tricking your body and mind into falling into a relaxed state, which in turn makes it easier to fall asleep, improving mood and stress levels over time.

A big factor that affects people with problems with sleep, is the mattress they use. We spend as much as a third of our lives asleep, or at least in our beds, so having the right mattress for you is very important. The average mattress lasts from 6-8 years, so finding the mattress that best suits you and your needs is important, for both helping with sleep and improving mental health. There are a wide range of different mattresses to take into consideration, depending on different factors; from what kind of material they are made of, to what kind of sleeper you are and what different needs you have. Here at Highland BlindCraft, we have a variety of different mattresses to suit anyone’s needs. Once you have the right mattress for you and can get a good night’s sleep. Now that we have reopened to the public, feel free to come into our showroom to find the mattress that suits you.

 If your mental or emotional state quickly gets worse, or you’re worried about someone you know – help is available. There are organisations that are always available to contact if you or someone you know are struggling. Organisations like Samaritan’s (phone number 116 123), mind.org (phone number 0300 123 3393), Crisis helpline (Text Shout to 85258), etc. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You are not alone; talk to someone you trust. Sharing a problem is often the first step to recovery.