Healthy, happy January…

SONY DSCJust before Christmas, I went to another parents evening. I have been attending parents evening for over 25 years, and I expected the normal trauma. Waiting in long queues to see weary teachers, who start by saying how much they appreciate my child’s unique skills, and then spend the next 15 minutes telling you all their challenges.

The head is available, but generally after a long wait. At best I normally leave feeling exhausted and a little deflated. On this occasion, I attended my fifth daughter’s new school (I have seven children :-)). What a difference! I was met at the door by a friendly Headmaster and encouraged to mingle with students and staff, exploring their work.

The mood was palpably upbeat and positive, aided by canapés and non-alcoholic beverages. The school prides itself on team working, building relationships, trying out new skills, being exposed to industry and local commerce, giving back to the community and building self-esteem amongst all the students and staff. The effects were infectious and energising.

As the Christmas period has ended, and we enter the January session, with long dark nights and poor weather, many people feel quite low and depressed at this time of year. I was struck how my daughter’s school has adopted many of the evidenced-based techniques that can help us lift our mood and well-being at this time of year.

There are five key messages we can adopt and pass on to others to help all of us feel more energised and well at this time.

They are: Connect… meet new people, Be Active… increase your exercise or take on a new activity, Take Notice… be more aware of your surroundings and people, Keep Learning… learn a new skill and Give… support and help others.

Find out more about five steps to mental well-being through this excellent website.

In Bury we have lots going on, and this January, I am going to spend more time looking at the Bury Directory to see what I can get involved in! There are some really great online training programs as well, with a free personal trainer. Perhaps this is the year I will run a marathon!

For some though, low mood, anxiety and depression can be really hard, self-care is not enough and more help is needed. Increasingly recognised are that patients living with chronic pain, or long-term illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or stroke are prone to depression or anxiety. Patients can self-refer to an excellent service that provides talking therapies through a variety of ways including face-to-face, on the telephone or in groups. Patients can be referred by their GP or can self-refer online or by telephone.  The service is called Healthy Minds and you can find out more here.

What ever you are planning for the New Year, I hope it is a happy and healthy one.

Dr. Jeff Schryer, local GP and Clinical Lead for Mental Health at NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)