HOW TO STRENGTHEN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH - 10 ESSENTIAL TIPS
It's no secret that the nation's mental health is at an all-time low. We are only just recovering from the effects of the Coronavirus when two more significant events, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis, have put immense strain on our mental wellbeing.
When times are tough, people react in different ways. Some become withdrawn, and others may feel angry or even depressed. It's important to remember that these are all normal reactions to abnormal circumstances and circumstances change. How we deal with difficulties and remain strong and resilient in adversity defines us as individuals.
So how can we strengthen our mental health and create resilience? Here are ten essential tips to start our journey to robust mental health:
1. TAKE SMALL STEPS
Don't rush at trying to solve all your problems in one go; break things down into manageable chunks and get help when needed. You'll achieve more in the long term and avoid becoming overwhelmed.
By tackling one thing at a time, no matter how small (the washing up, for example), we can begin to accumulate a sense of control and feel more capable.
2. CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Spending time with friends or talking to someone who understands can significantly affect your feelings.
Often another person's perspective on events or issues can be helpful, and it can be a relief to share how you're feeling with others.
3. TURN TO PROFESSIONALS
If you're struggling to cope, don't suffer in silence – talk to your GP or a professional counsellor. They can provide support and guidance on how to deal with difficult situations.
4. BE ACTIVE
Exercise is beneficial for our mental as well as physical wellbeing. Endorphins, the body's "feel-good" chemicals, are released, and this helps lessen stress. A short stroll will have an impact.
5. EAT WELL
A balanced diet is vital for good physical and mental health. Eating regular, healthy meals helps to stabilise our mood and gives us the energy we need to cope with day-to-day life.
The term 'eat well' might seem contradictory in the context of a cost of living crisis, but we aren't talking about extravagant, luxurious food. We mean nutritious and filling meals that provide our bodies with the vitamins and minerals we need to function correctly.
6. GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep and even just rest are crucial for our physical and mental health. When we're tired, we're more likely to become irritable and stressed, which can negatively impact our mood and how we cope with day-to-day life.
Aim to get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep every night, although this may vary from person to person. If you find it difficult to turn off and sleep, you can do some simple things to improve your sleep hygiene. Consider avoiding caffeine in the evening and establishing a regular bedtime routine. Read more tips here.
7. RELAXING IS EASY
Finding ways to relax is essential for managing stress levels. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga, meditation or breathing exercises, can help to calm the mind and body.
With all the good intentions and desire to reset your brain to relax, relaxing is not always easy - especially at night. The only way to properly relax is to train the brain to switch off.
Proper relaxation is possible using Neuro-relaxation techniques. Neuro-relaxation is a form of deep relaxation that uses specific sounds and light to relax the brainwaves and nervous system.
This type of relaxation differs from other methods because it equally engages the left and right sides of the brain. Using this technique allows for a complete feeling of relaxation. It also helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia while promoting healing within the body.
It is scientifically proven to work. Read more about Neuro-relaxation / Rebalance here.
8. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
It's essential to schedule time for relaxing and uplifting activities. Spending some alone time, whether it be reading, listening to music, or having a long bath, can lift you and make handling challenging circumstances easier.
Making time for yourself can be difficult, especially if you have children or other dependents. However, finding ways to fit it into your schedule is important, even if it's just for a few minutes each day.
It's worth remembering you are not alone; others feel the same. Reach out to grandparents or close friends who can lend a hand so you can recharge.
9. HELP OTHERS - VOLUNTEER
Giving back to the community can positively affect our mental wellbeing. Volunteering can help us feel good about ourselves and is a great way to meet new people and make new friends.
There are many different ways to volunteer. Something will interest you, whether helping at a local charity shop or getting involved in a fundraising event—walking your neighbour's dog or something bigger and impactful to the broader community, like training with the Samaritans.
Your effort will make a difference to those around you and, in turn, could help to put your worries into perspective.
10. CONNECT WITH NATURE
Forest bathing is very topical right now, but in reality, forest bathing is just spending time outdoors in nature to help reduce stress and improve your mood. Even if you live in an urban area, there are often green spaces nearby where you can sit and think; if you have access to the countryside, even better!
Knowing there's a solution to your problem offers comfort and can be the first step to feeling better.
We should talk about mental health openly without stigma to normalise the conversation. It should be part of our everyday lives, like physical health. The brain is a muscle we must look after - we all have mental health just as physical health.
It's time to take control, seek help when needed and look after our most precious commodity...ourselves!
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