Self care tips for feelings of depression, anxiety and low mood

Emma Hall is a clinical pharmacy technician at the QE Hospital, and a health and wellbeing ambassador in her area. With the Trust encouraging staff to #BeatTheBlues throughout January 2022, Emma took the time to share her thoughts on depression anxiety and the methods and mechanisms she relies on to overcome the blues.Depression and anxiety are topics that we’ve been encouraged to talk about over the past couple of years. Protecting our own mental health is incredibly important, especially duwhile we continue to work through difficult and busy times in the NHS.

We don’t require a diagnosis to accept that we’re feeling down or anxious. These feelings can come and go or be constant, and they can also be more intense at certain times than they are at others. The unpredictability of these feelings makes taking a proactive approach to our mental wellbeing and knowing our coping mechanisms all the more important.

To help overcome these feelings, here are some activities that I find can help: 

Reading and audiobooks:
I find that escaping from every day stresses by reading or listening to an audiobook whilst enjoying a walk, having a bath or making your evening meal can have a positive impact on your mood.

Personally, I like to look out for fictional books with a happy ending! Gateshead Council have a free app, Borrowbox, that Gateshead residents can use, and I also have a library card. 

Walking and regular exercise:
We all know even the smallest amount of exercise can release endorphins, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland which increases our feeling of pleasure and wellbeing, while reducing pain and discomfort.  

A great bit of advice is to make your walk more social, too. Arrange to take a walk with a friend or family member – a good chat can help cheers us up too! 

Sunshine elevates our serotonin levels, a mood-boosting hormone that helps you to feel more calm and focused.

Getting out and about in the sunshine is a great way to help tackle feelings of anxiety and low mood. It’s a bit of a tricky time of year at the moment for it, but wrapping up warm and going for a stroll is always beneficial. 

Listening to music:
My favourite mood-booster is listening to music. Create a go-to playlist on your phone or music device and you’ll have mood-lifting tunes ready to listen to. 

I like to play mine on the commute to and from work in the car. I’d even encourage you those doing the same to have a little sing-song yourself. Let it out – no one will hear you! 

Making plans:
Life always seems better when we have something to look forward to, but this doesn’t have to be a big annual holiday 9 months away. Break your months and weeks up by making smaller plans with people so you can look forward to those, too. 

Whether it’s a game of sport with your friends, a meal out or even a spa day, having something to look forward to is always a handy way to create a positive focus.

A regular sleeping pattern:
Aiming to create and stick to a regular sleeping pattern at nights is something that massively helps me to remain mentally balanced.

To help in creating a regular pattern, I’d advise switching of the TV, mobile phone and any other electronic devices – unless you want to use your mobile to make use of a calming app and take some time to unwind and relax before you go to sleep. 

The Trust would like to thank Emma for her blog contribution, advice and fantastic work as a health and wellbeing ambassador within the pharmacy team.