Mental Health

From Useful Data
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Things that can improve Mental Health

Hundreds of Just One Thing

The podcasts From Just One Thing with Michael Mosley are popular and recommended.

  • Walking is beneficial because if gives access to natural light, ideally in the morning.
  • Learning a new skill.
  • Standing on one leg (do it when brushing your teeth). Do it, then do it with eyes closed, then do it for longer every day. It sounds like this needs to be a daily exercise activity before getting old.
  • Control breathing. This comes up a lot in stress management.
  • Count your blessings. Get into the habit of writing down things for what one is grateful each day. This is 'Journaling'.

I can't listen to these podcasts. In the background is music comprising clapping and finger-snapping which makes it impossible to listen to. It is like being poked in the ear by a sharp pencil a few times a second. It triggers misophonia.

Time Management

Work diary / calendar

  • Use your work calendar. Share it with everyone, have it wide open (except for genuinely private matters, which you still include but as busy time).
  • Start each day by organising the calendar for the day. Create time slots for dealing with emails and updating reports.
  • Schedule time after meetings to type up what got said and to do immediate actions.
  • Do not respond to emails as they come in, but at predefined periods. Do not have more than 3 of these periods per day.
  • Emails: either Delegate, Delete, Diarise

Take breaks / Pomodoro technique / Lancaster Uni discovery / tea breaks / microbreaks

Take breaks. The brain gets tired exactly like muscles do as electrolytes get depleted. The solution is to rest the neurones you've been using so they can literally recharge.

  • Lancaster Uni: 45 minutes study, 15 minutes doing something else maximises learning outcomes.
  • Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes working, 5 minute break. Reap 4 times, then take a longer break. Wikipedia page.
I find 25 minutes is too short for me,
  • We used to get a tea break in the morning and another in the afternoon. This was because employers knew that made us more productive.
  • Gaze out of the window and daydream. It stretches the eye muscles and makes you more creative.

Email management

The 5D method of email management

This started out as the 3D method...!

  1. Defend your inbox (that means anti-virus and spam trapping and unenrolling from mailing lists).
  2. Delete it. (Or archive it.)
  3. Delegate it.
  4. Do it. Can it be done in 2 minutes? Then do it now.
  5. Defer or diarise it. Create a diary slot to action that email.

This page is useful: Screwloose 5Ds email management. Watch the video too. The presenter refers to some other techniques. Especially relevant if you use Outlook as she says how to automate or simplify some of the above techniques.


The 5 Gratitudes

Suggested to me by my caring line manager. Each day, sit and think of five things for which you are grateful about that day. It may be the good weather, something made you smile, something didn't go wrong (!), you found something new, the flowers opened, lunch was good, you appreciate that call / email, someone said 'Thank you', you found that thing you were looking for, you got that thing done, you got left alone.

Write them down. This is your Gratitudes Journal. Then each week, go back through that list and reflect on the positive things that have been happening.

Exercise... that is tolerable

Lordy. I don't want to do this. What might be easier?


Fresh air. NHS says it is enough, if you walk briskly. Means you have to get up, washed, dressed and outside.

Avoid the gym. Do 'Exercise Stacking'

Instead of slogging away for half an hour do a workout, do very short exercises during the day; no more than 5 minutes. Go for a short walk, briskly. Go up and down the stairs a couple of times each time you use the stairs. A few star jumps. Stand on one leg while brushing teeth. Do 'touch toes' when waiting for the kettle to boil. Some squats waiting for the bus / before putting your coat on.

Aim for 30 minutes in total through the day.

Doing exercise in chunks through the day is more natural and more effective that one long workout. Very short exercises tend to be intense, more so than can be done in a workout.


Better than sitting which is surprisingly bad for you. Stand more often when at a desk. Do video calls standing. Stand up to do 'phone calls.

Aim to stand for 2 or 3 minutes every hour.



The GP said: "Breathe"

My GP said we tend to hold our breath when know something stressful or triggering is coming and when it comes, we have an excess of CO2 in our blood. When the bad thing happens, we lose control or experience anxiety. The solution? When you are in one of those situations, knowing what is coming is going to be frustrating, keep breathing. And When anxiety starts, breathe.

Take a breath

Breathe in. Hold for a count of 3. Breathe right out. Hold for a count of 3. Repeat. Now face the world.

Pacing breathing and heart rate

Find the pulse in your wrist.

  1. for three heart beats, breathe in.
  2. for three heart beats, hold it.
  3. for three heart beats, breathe out.
  4. for three heart beats, hold it.

Repeat until you feel better.


And that does not have to mean 'partying' or anything stressful.

Start the day with a chat

I have arranged to start each week day with a 15 minute video call with 5 different people. That means I have to be up, washed, dressed and 'camera ready' at the start of the working day. This establishes or maintains the working routine. The chat is for me to ask them how they are and listen to them, not for me to talk at them. I need to practice paying attention, listening and empathy to make this work. It benefits me while costing each of them just 15 minutes per week.

Write to people

Send a letter or notelet to make someone feel special.

Keep the communication going

When someone goes quiet, they're probably having a problem. Keep the line of communication going. Send emails or cartoons or updates or thoughts. Businesses know that customers on mailing lists come back and buy again. Not because of what the mailing list said, but because they are maintaining the relationship even if it is one way - it works.

Ad hoc messages

When you see or hear something that reminds you of someone, use that as a trigger to contact them. Send en email or card saying "I saw/heard this and thought of you".

Coping Strategies

Particular coping strategies can be either helpful or unhelpful depending on the circumstances.


Resilience is not a fixed trait within a person, but a combination of different influences, skills and behaviours that can be learned and developed.

Resilience factors

  1. Positive relationships
  2. Making plans
  3. Optimistic outlook
  4. A trust in your own strengths and coping abilities
  5. Meaning and purpose
  6. Balanced thinking
  7. Self-care and self-compassion


The four dimensions of self-care

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Mental
  4. Spiritual

The three types of coping strategies

Assessment-focused strategies

Assessment-focused strategies are about thinking differently about the situation, e.g. denial or humour.

Problem-focused strategies

Problem-focused strategies are about doing something to change the situation.
Useful when the situation is within your control.

Emotion-focused strategies

Emotion-focused strategies are about trying to feel differently about the situation.
Useful for situations which cannot be changed.