We all understand how important it is to keep our bodies healthy and well. Even though the understanding around mental health is improving in modern society, there is still a lot of work to be done in helping people understand that mental health issues are just as serious as physical ones.
The official website of Mental Health Week states that the aim of the event is to encourage us all to look after ourselves and support one another, promote mental health literacy, encourage self-care, educate through tips and advice, and raise awareness of various mental health issues to help combat the stigma that is still associated with both mental health and seeking help.
Mental Health Week
1. Eat well
Eat a well balanced, nutritional diet and cut back on alcohol/drugs
As more research comes out each year associating diet with mental wellbeing, poor diets and unhealthy eating are clearly having an impact on your physical health. In fact, even unhealthy food itself can make you feel worse. Eating a healthy and well balanced diet containing fats, fibre, and nutrients—especially Omega-3 fatty acids—will help you manage your stress levels, improve your sleep patterns, positively impact your ability to concentrate, improve your ability to think clearly, and even make more positive decisions. Another key to improving your mental wellbeing is cutting back on excessive alcohol or drug consumption—both will affect how your brain feels and works negatively affecting your ability to think clearly or make decisions correctly.
2. Get enough sleep
Make a concerted effort to go to sleep at a regular, early time
Research has found that sleep is linked to numerous health-related consequences, both physical and mental. While some psychological or psychiatric issues may cause sleep problems, not getting enough sleep itself can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety. Getting enough hours of sleep consistently every night will help ensure you get a good night's rest, which can lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle.
3. Keep active
Commit to some form of regular consistent exercise
Like dieting and sleep, exercise or other physical activity will help you maintain a healthy body and mind. Keeping active—whether it's playing sport, going for long walks, practicing Yoga, going to the gym, or running—will help lower stress and anxiety levels as well as improve your self-esteem. Being active and exercising isn't easy for everyone. If you struggle with motivation, try motivating yourself by running with a friend or listening to your favourite music/podcasts while going on a long walk. Just keep moving!
4. Limit media & technology use
Try reducing your amount of technology use and media consumption on a daily basis
Many people might not think of themselves as addicted to their phones or social media, but it's often much more difficult to limit your usage than you'd expect. The impacts of excessive and prolonged use can be harmful. Even over-consumption of news can negatively impact your mental wellbeing. There's no need to cut it out completely from your life and go cold turkey; there are ways to improve your relationship with technology while still getting stuff done. Here are some specific pieces of advice to help you with this tip.
- Try not to keep your phone in your bedroom, because it will be the first thing you check before going to sleep or the last thing you check before putting on your clothes in the morning.
- Don't use your cell phone for half an hour before going to bed or during the first half hour after you wake up.
- Put your phone down on another table during meal times when you’re not able to reach it.
- Try to go for a whole day without checking social media.
5. Focus on friends
Make an effort to reconnect and socialise with friends
Socialising with friends is part of having a balanced life. You can find something that you enjoy doing, such as completing a puzzle or playing a board game, or simply catch up and chat. It's up to you, but there's no need to go it alone! People are social creatures; make sure you have friends who understand what you're going through by engaging in something you enjoy with them.
6. Do something fun
Actively set yourself some time to do something you enjoy
What do you enjoy doing? Reading? Painting? Gardening? Dancing? The possibilities are endless, but it’s very important for your emotional wellbeing to spend some time doing something you genuinely enjoy. Whether it’s just five minutes or two hours, having fun can help alleviate stress and focus your mind on something that brings you joy. There are also activities that bring happiness that aren't "fun" per se—such as donating old clothes to charity or volunteering at an animal sanctuary—that might seem like a sacrifice but are actually useful in your own development as a person and add value to your life.
7. Do something fun
Set yourself an exciting, fun new challenge
Learning something new is an uplifting and engaging activity. When you set yourself a challenging task, you will learn something new and feel positive about progressing toward your goals. Make sure it’s something you want to do but have never tried before. You could bake something you’ve never baked before, write a new type of story, learn a new skill like woodwork, try a new form of art or go for a hike on a new trail. Remember that this is just for you. You’re not learning a new skill to kick-start a career change, impress others or even become an expert in this area. It should be fun and stimulating for you!
8. Practice mental health exercises
Small exercises can make a big difference
This tip is focused on helping you improve your mental health directly. Engaging in mental health improvement can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! A few small changes over time can make a huge difference. Choose one or two activities that appeal to you and schedule them regularly and consistently in your schedule. Some examples include:
From mindfulness to slow breathing exercises, meditation can be really impactful.
Writing your feelings and thoughts on paper can help relieve your mind, clarify your thoughts and help you feel better.
Physically getting up and stretching can help improve the way you feel and think.
Engaging in some sort of activity that makes you actively laugh can elevate the way you feel.
Dance/Listen to music
Dancing and listening to spirit-lifting music is an excellent way to help you mentally.
9. See the sun
Make sure to spend some time in natural sunlight
It is easy to move from house to car to office to car to house. Getting exposure to sunlight will elevate your serotonin levels, a hormone which can help boost your mood, increase feelings of calm and improve your focus. Spend some time outside regularly and soak up the reinvigorating rays of sunlight so that you can improve feelings of depression, stress and anxiety.
10. Ask for help if you need it
Everyone needs help from time to time
There's nothing wrong with seeking help for your mental health and wellbeing. Whether you want to confide in a friend or feel the need to engage the services of a professional, seeking help if you need it is the smart, mature thing to do. Unfortunately, our society still carries a bit of a stigma in regards to mental health and seeking help. But this is changing. People are beginning to understand not just how prevalent mental health issues are—and how important it is for people to seek support when they need it—but also that seeking this kind of help doesn't mean you're weak or broken. You can do this on your own, but there are resources available if you need more guidance than friends can provide or if you're feeling overwhelmed by all your thoughts and feelings and don't know where else to turn.
If you find our 10 tips for improving mental health overwhelming, focus on just one of them. You’ll then find yourself ready to add a second in no time and then a third and so on…