From naps to no phone – how to boost your mental health | The Sun

WHEN WAS the last time you sat down and checked in with your mental wellbeing? 

If the answer is never, it might be time to start building this simple habit into your daily routine. 

We live in a busy, uncertain world with competing pressures that make it easy to neglect our emotional needs. 

And just as our bodies need exercise and healthy food to stay in top condition, our mental health deserves care too. 

Our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are closely linked and influence each other.

So sometimes we develop unhelpful patterns of thought which can lead to unhelpful or even harmful behaviours.

Recognising these thoughts, asking whether they’re true, and thinking about them differently can improve our mental wellbeing. 

Good-quality sleep also makes a big difference in how we feel mentally and physically.

When we struggle to nod off, our mind can be flooded with thoughts and worries which make it harder to unwind. 

Doing just one little thing – like keeping mobile phones out of the bedroom or going to bed an hour earlier – can make all the difference. 

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By proactively maintaining our mental wellness, we can build resilience to cope with the stresses of everyday life.

This can help us deal better with challenges we may face in the future and can even reduce our risk of physical health problems. 

At the NHS website Every Mind Matters you’ll find lots of free resources, information and practical tips to help you discover the “little big things” that work for you. 

You’ll also find personalised mental health plans that provide advice on dealing with anxiety and tension, boosting your mood, sleeping better, and feeling more in control. 

UK-based Amazon Alexa users can even say: “Alexa start my mind plan” and get going right away. 

If you’re struggling to cope with anxiety or depression NHS talking therapies could help. You can be referred by your GP or refer yourself directly via

This service offers free and effective support, in person, by video, over the phone or as an online course. 

It takes one little step in the right direction to make big changes for the better in your life. 

What will you do to care for your mental health today? 

Snooze control

SUPER-BUSY business exec and mum of three Lianne Harris has a secret to staying on top of her mental wellbeing – a daily half-hour sleep. 

The power naps help Lianne balance her life running her own social media management company and looking after Ben, seven, and five-year-old twins Matthew and Lucas with husband Ashley. 

Life is hectic for the family, from Harlow, Essex, especially caring for Matthew, who is autistic.

But Lianne, 36, is very aware of her body after having post-natal depression and discovered the importance of the daily nap for her mental health. 

“There’s so much stress at night-time with three children so young, so if they’re not going to sleep well you know you’re not going to,” she says. 

“Matt normally sleeps, which is brilliant, as I know that some autistic children don’t. But recently he woke up at 11pm, didn’t go to sleep until 4am, and was coming into the room every five to ten minutes.” 

Lianne tries to do the bulk of her work before having her nap. But if she has a heavily interrupted night with the kids she might have to sleep through the day and sacrifice her evening to work. 

“One of the perks of working for myself is that I can juggle and have my naps. I try to have one every day as I know my sleep is the trigger for my mental health,” Lianne explains. 

“When you’ve got children and you’re trying to deal with everything with bad mental health, it’s exhausting and it takes a long time to recover.” 

Lianne regularly checks in with how she’s feeling mentally and emotionally, and takes little steps to address issues if she notices if anything is out of kilter.

“If I’ve been moody or snappy for three or four days that’s when I know that something is not quite right. 

“And I’m quite open with my husband about how I’m feeling. Ashley lets me chill out, watch what I want, and he says to have a long bath.

“I also try and do something with the family – have a day out, and not be stuck in the house.” 

A 20 to 30-minute nap, ideally between 1pm and 3pm, is enough to recharge your batteries. Taking a longer or later nap could disrupt your night-time sleep. 

Puppy love

AS a former firefighter and HR director, Jo Sellers had become used to demanding roles – so had no idea how stressful setting up her own company would be. 

But adjusting to a self-employed lifestyle as head of her new dog training business was a huge wake-up call. 

“There were two big stressors for me – not getting a regular salary and thinking running a business was easy,” recalls Jo, 53. 

“I didn’t realise how much I had to learn and continue to learn. After decades of being employed, that transition on a personal level for me was incredibly stressful and tough.” 

Jo quickly realised she needed to put steps in place to protect her mental wellbeing and began by being kind to herself. 

“It was realising that if I don’t respond to someone or something straight away, no one is dying, unlike my fire brigade days,” says Jo from Guildford, Surrey. 

“If I can’t solve a techy problem, I take the pressure off myself by going for a walk with my dog Riba.” 

But the biggest stress-buster for Jo has been volunteering for a pet therapy charity, which takes her mind off work entirely. 

Once a week she pops along to a local infant school where shy and less confident children read to Riba.

Jo explains: “It’s very relaxing for them and if they’re not very confident I’ll lift up Riba’s ear and say to the child: ‘She can’t hear you.’ 

“It gives them confidence, they can touch her while they’re reading – obviously Riba doesn’t judge – and she just snuggles up to them. 

“It warms my heart to see these children become joyful about reading a book.” 

Jo admits her brain is constantly whirring at home thinking about what she has to do for the business. 

“When I’m volunteering at the school, I can’t think about work – and it helps me completely switch off,” she says. 

“It makes me be in the here and now: it’s nothing about me, nothing about my business – it’s purely about the children, their joy, and my dog enjoying it. 

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Help in a crisis

  • If you’re having thoughts of suicide, are harming yourself or have thought about self-harm it’s very important to tell someone. 
  • These thoughts and feelings can be complex, frightening and confusing but you don’t have to struggle alone. 
  • If you can’t wait to see a doctor and feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, or you simply need somebody to talk to, contact one of these organisations to get support right away:
  • Find your local 24/7 NHS crisis line at or visit
  • If you’re under 35 and experiencing thoughts of suicide, or if you’re worried a young person is thinking about taking their life, visit, phone 0800 068 4141 (9am–midnight, 365 days a year), text 07860 039967 or email [email protected].
  • If your life or someone else’s life is at risk call 999.

Tap the app

Download the free NHS app to:

  • Get health advice 
  • Find NHS services near you 
  • Order repeat prescriptions 
  • View your GP health record securely

For more information about the app, visit: Download from the App Store or Google Play. 

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