Just like we all have out physical health to look out for, we should also take care of our mental well being. In fact our mental- and physical health are dependent on one another. When we focus on improving aspects of one in small ways this helps improve many other areas, enabling us to thrive in life.
Every week I aim to share ways to make the most of your health based on lived experience and the evidence base. As it is Mental Health Awareness week, here are 10 practical ways to look after your mental health.
Small simple changes don’t need to be time-consuming, expensive or effortful. I uphold that small simple changes work are the most productive. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today?
1. Don't keep things bottled up: Tell some one that you can trust such as a healthcare professional, family member, friend, teacher or colleague. There are specific organisations that would be happy to listen to you without judgement. If talking seems to hard, write it down or blog about it.
2. Take a break: A change of scene can work wonders. This could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your house, a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
3. Cleanse your life : Reduce or get rid of things that are draining you. Unfollow or block triggering accounts. Spend less time with people that do not appreciate you. Get rid of clothes that you don't enjoy wearing, cosmetics that you don't use and general clutter in your life.
4. Back to basics: Focus on the fundamentals; personal hygiene, a routine, nourishing food, sensible sleep patterns, meeting up with people and feeling more present.
5.Do what do you love: Pick activities can you can lose yourself in. If you cannot think of anything, what did you love doing in the past? Or seek out some thing new, you may surprise yourself and find a new hobby.Enjoying yourself combats stress as activities we enjoy or are good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem
6. Nourish and hydrate: Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to function well, just like the other organs in your body. A varied diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Some of us drink alcohol to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. It can make us actually feel worse off because of how the body responds.
7: Cope adaptively: Like many things it life, what works for you might not suits others. I have a whole post of positive coping techniques but my favourites at the moment include going for walks, texting a friend, singing (badly rapping especially in the shower), doodling and going to coffee shops.
8: Help others: Any gesture to support others can help lift our mood. We all have good, thoughtful intentions that we can put into action. This can include complimenting some one, helping a friend with some thing they don't enjoy or find difficult, texting them to ask how there are and standing up for those in need.
10: Accept who you are right now
Despite messages everyday telling us to change or improve ourselves, I am encouraging you to embrace who you are, as you are in this moment. Yes, we’re all different but accepting our unique-ness enables us to be happy, to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem is what could help you cope when life takes a difficult turn.