It’s cold, it’s wet, winter is on its way and it’s getting darker for longer. Seasonally Adjusted Disorder aside, there’s a lot to feel down about this month but there is also a lot you can do about it as, mental health and wellbeing-wise, there’s quite a bit going on this October. Not only do we have World Mental Health Day, but we also have that perennial NHS stop smoking initiative, Stoptober. Stopping smoking will do wonders, not only for your physical health but also for your mental health. But, what exactly is the link between smoking and mental health?
Most people who smoke say smoking relaxes them but it can’t. It just can’t. Nicotine is a stimulant you see, not a relaxant. Smoke too much and you become over stimulated and more prone, therefore, to stress and anxiety. Studies have also shown that, over time, smokers are more likely to become depressed than non-smokers.
When you quit the fags, however, you’re more likely to feel more calm and positive. There’s a strong correlation between quitting and improved life satisfaction levels. You’ll feel more in control for a start. Some studies have suggested that the beneficial effects of stopping smoking on anxiety and depression can equal that of medications often prescribed for the two conditions.
By the by hypnotherapy (of which I am both a proponent and a practitioner) is one of the more successful methods for stopping smoking.
World Mental Health Day, meanwhile, is an opportunity for us all, at both a professional (i.e., at work) and personal level (i.e. in our day-to-day lives), to increase awareness of and decrease the stigma attached to mental health issues.
I personally would like to get to the point where going for a mental health check up is seen as just as important and just as routine as going to the doctors or the dentists.
Held every year on 10 October, the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide (and more importantly) suicide prevention.
Every year 80,000 people around the world take their own life and many more attempt it. Here in the UK, it is the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 years.
Do you have a mental health advocate where you work? If so, ask them what they have planned for the day.
Or perhaps, think about what you can do to help.