MANY people are struggling with mental health in the United Kingdom, whether it is due to external factors, such as social issues, financial insecurity, and so on, or internal factors such as mental health disorders including but not limited to anxiety, trauma, depression, and more.
In fact, it is estimated that over 10% of adults in Manchester have struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic.
From 2019 to 2020, it was estimated that there was a rate of 130.2 per 100,000 people for child inpatient admissions for mental health conditions, which was far higher than the national average.
When children are exposed to mental health problems, it means that they are much more likely to suffer from mental issues in their adulthood.
Poor mental wellbeing not only affects the person who is suffering from it, but those around them like their family members, friends, co-workers, and others.
Mental health issues which are left untreated can have a profoundly adverse effect on the community, whether these negative effects come in the form of social isolation, antisocial behaviour, substance use disorders, and so on.
Because of this, it is paramount that we find ways – within and outside mental health support facilities – to overcome our mental health problems.
Thankfully, Manchester is a liberal and open minded city which is rife in facilities, events, and individuals who can offer support to the mental health state of its community members. So, what are the ways in which you can boost your mental health in Manchester?
Get Active in the Fresh Air
It is no secret that spending time outdoors can dramatically improve your mental health. In fact, ecotherapy is a form of treatment which is often recommended for patients who are struggling with poor mental health.
Studies show that ecotherapy, also known as nature exposure, significantly boosts cognitive function and perceived restorativeness. Enhanced activity in the frontal cortex of the brain – the area of the brain which is important for regulating emotions – can be seen with these studies.
So, what are the different ways in which you can get active in the fresh air in Manchester?
Walk Through Green Spaces
Walking is a fantastic form of low intensity steady state cardio, and is beneficial for all people, whether you rarely exercise or you’re an athlete.
The benefits of walking include but are not limited to experiencing improved sleep quality, improving cardiovascular health, decrease in stress and anxiety, increased energy, and more.
Physical activity such as walking offers benefits to mental health as much as it does to our physical health.
When combined with natural environments and greenery, it is the perfect combination towards improving your mood.
Manchester is full of parks including but not limited to Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Debdale Park, and more. Additionally, you can make the most of your outdoor time by venturing on one of the many Tameside Family Walking trails.
Running & Cycling
Not only are the previously listed green spaces fantastic areas for a stroll, they are great environments for runners and cyclists.
Whether you want to set a personal best, raise money for a charity, or simply start your day off with outdoor exercise, physical activity and exercises such as running are proven to release positive chemicals in the brain such as endorphins and dopamine.
The term runner’s high is not used to describe improved post-run moods without a good reason.
Studies show that running offers just as many mental benefits as it does physical benefits, as the body releases natural biochemical substances, such as endocannabinoids, which greatly improves our moods and reduces our feelings of anxiety or stress.
In addition to luscious parks, runners and cyclists can opt for other scenic routes such as the Ashton canal, which is as long as 7 miles and links the Rochdale, Peak Forest and Huddersfield Narrow canals.
Manchester is also home to many athletics tracks such as Manchester Regional Arena, Trafford Athletic Club, Harriers Athletics Club, and many more.
Embrace Manchester’s Thriving Football Culture
Manchester is home to one of the strongest football cultures in the world. Whether you want to play football or simply watch football, either can be fantastic ways to participate in strong sporting communities while also spending time outside gaining fresh air.
Learn a New Skill (Goal Oriented Therapy)
Manchester is a thriving city which offers a range of facilities for locals and visitors alike.
Rich in heritage and also home to 5 universities, people of all ages and demographics can find a wide range of activities to do in order to entertain them and spark their passionate side.
This makes Manchester an excellent location to pursue existing hobbies, or to develop new ones.
When we learn a new skill, or even partake in current ones, we are taking part in something which is goal oriented, which can help us experience something called behavioural activation.
The theory behind behavioural activation is that our moods are closely linked to our activities, and completing tasks and objectives which are rewarding prove to be a huge benefit for our mental health state.
This is why goal oriented therapy is included in the recovery programmes of many patients, whether they are suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, or other.
Behavioural activation is not only a positive feeling when we learn something or complete an objective, it is a form of psychological treatment for depression.
This is because behavioural activation encourages us to become much more active rather than passive or isolated, which are common symptoms of depression.
Behavioural activation is effective in helping patients gain momentum in becoming more proactive in their lives, and encourages them to undertake and complete challenges more frequently, which results in a much healthier mental state. What are some examples of skills that people can learn in Manchester?
Learn a Language to Open Up New Opportunities
Manchester is a very diverse international city, and is actually one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. There are around 40,000 international university students in Manchester at a single time, and there are around 153 languages being used in the city actively.
This makes the city the perfect place to facilitate new skills through language acquisition, whether you opt for private tutoring or enrolling in a course hosted at a language centre or one of the city’s five universities.
In addition to going to a school or tutor to study a language, there will be many other learners and communities which speak this desired language in Manchester.
Learning a new language, whether it is Spanish, French, Mandarin, or any other language, takes time, patience, and concentration, but it is highly worth it.
Not only do you become a more skilled version of yourself by opening up a whole new demographic or culture of people who you are able to communicate with, your brain and mental health will benefit enormously.
It can improve your confidence, empathy, cultural sensitivity and awareness, work ethic, and much more.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Home to iconic bands such as Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That, The Smiths, and many more, it is apparent just how much of an impact Mancunian bands have had on British music culture.
With such strong artistic characters and bands, this makes Manchester a fantastic place to learn to play a new instrument.
You can find personal tutors to help you pick up new skills when it comes to learning an instrument, or you can enrol yourself into music classes.
Manchester is also home to the UK’s largest specialist music school, Cheetham’s School of Music, which frequently has workshops open to visitors.
Join a Martial Arts Club
Manchester is also home to many different martial art gyms, whether they specialise in boxing, jiu jitsu, muay thai, mixed martial arts (mma), or else.
While martial arts may carry connotations of violence for some, they are in fact disciplines which thoroughly emphasise respect and development.
Greater Manchester and nearby areas in the Northwest are also the breeding ground for many legendary martial artists such as Ricky Hatton and Michael Bisping.
Not only will you be able to benefit from strength and cardio inducing activities, martial arts are highly technical, and you will be able to view tangible progress if you take part in it consistently.
Not only will you be able to witness your visible progress in the gym, you will meet many new people.
Improve Your Culinary Insight Through Cooking
Another place where you can improve your skills and to exercise creativity is in the kitchen.
Cooking is a prominent example which facilitates behavioural activation, because the ingredients and recipe required to create the perfect meal requires effort, patience, and organisational skills to achieve.
Not only that, the chef can literally reap the fruits of their own labour once they’ve completed their objective!
Following a recipe can boost people’s sense of achievement and self autonomy by providing them with a huge sense of achievement. Additionally, you can personalise a recipe to create your own form of an already existing dish.
Cooking allows people to exercise their independence and creativity within a safe space, and it can greatly enhance people’s mental well being.
Furthermore, you will be learning more about the nutrients of certain foods as a byproduct of cooking. This can allow you to gain more insight into what is and is not healthy, and as the saying goes, you are what you eat.
There is a significant link between a healthy body and a healthy mind, and vice versa, and cooking is a way in which we can improve our physical health.
There are many hands-on and fun cookery schools in Manchester for current and aspiring food connoisseurs to choose from.
Improve Your Mental and Physical Health By Going Sober
While Manchester is a student focused city and has a thriving nightlife, there are many things to do that do not include the consumption of alcohol. Additionally, learning how to enjoy things while sober is a powerful and highly rewarding skill.
Alcohol adversely affects your mental health in many different ways. Although people flock to the bars and the pubs especially during the UK’s summertime to enjoy alcohol with their friends, abstaining from alcohol provides a wide range of physical and mental health benefits.
Despite the relaxing and joyful feeling which alcohol may provide people with in the short term, long term and consistent alcohol consumption increases symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Since it is a depressant, it decreases activity in the central nervous system, and can affect the neurotransmitters in our brain which are used to regulate emotions.
There are many resources available online and in-person to help people overcome peer pressure, habit, or even alcohol dependence.
If you have the desire to go sober and to sustain your abstinence but are struggling because of the intensity of your drug or alcohol dependence, you can seek the support of a drug and alcohol rehab in Manchester via Rehab Recovery or Turning Point Smithfield.
A drug and alcohol rehab will help someone who is suffering from substance use disorder return to a healthy life of normalcy before the addictive substance irreversibly damages someone’s health.
Volunteer & Help Your Local Community
Volunteering is a worthwhile activity which can help people who are impoverished or disadvantaged in the community.
Taking time out of your schedule in order to help locals in your community will not only benefit those who need the help, but it can also have a tremendous impact on your mental health.
Helping others is a way which can increase self confidence, self esteem, and feelings of purposefulness.
Not only are you empowering people and increasing opportunities for disadvantaged people in your area, you are making yourself an active participant and helper in the community.
Additionally, it can help connect you with others, whether they themselves are the volunteers or those who need help.
Homelessness is particularly a problem in areas such as Manchester, with Lifeshare Ltd in particular being a prominent homeless charity in the area.
Additionally, you can visit the Manchester Government website to see how else you can help those who are suffering from homelessness.
Furthermore, there are many other examples of volunteering opportunities in Manchester. Volunteers can take action by getting involved with organisations such as Forever Manchester, Manchester Mind, and more.
Reach Out for Support in Manchester or Online
Whether through the form of mental health services or your friends or family, it is important that you always reach out for support when you feel that your mental health may be suffering.
Being able to communicate and externalise these feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, or other forms of poor mental health is paramount when it comes to overcoming them.
If you are unable to articulate your issues to others and find yourself burying your issues, they will fester and exacerbate existing mental health issues.
There are mental health clinics available in Manchester for those who require support, and subjects can also seek support and resources online through Mind.org or apps such as BetterHelp,for example.
You can find support in Manchester through foundations such as the Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS FT, and you can dial 0800 953 0285 to access their free 24/7 support hotline.
Prioritise Sleep Wherever You Are
While this isn’t necessarily the most exciting option, a poor sleep schedule is often the cause (or enhancer) of many mental health issues.
Missing out on sleep not only means that your memorisation, emotional regulation, and energy levels have decreased significantly, it also leaves you more susceptible to developing illnesses and diseases.
With the longer days of the UK summertime, subjects may be encouraged to stay up later than they typically would, especially when it might mean spending more time on social media or consuming alcoholic substances with friends. However, prioritising sleep helps establish a healthy lifestyle in the long run.
There is a strong and corresponding relationship between sleep and mental health. If someone is struggling to sleep, or neglects their sleep in favour of late nights drinking alcohol or spending too much time on electronics, it can impact their mental health enormously.
Studies show that sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive impairments and increased levels of anxiety, depression, irritability, and more. When we miss out on REM sleep, we suffer impairments to our memorisation and emotional regulation abilities.
Additionally, subjects who are sleep deprived will lack the energy needed to complete tasks and experience behavioural activation.