In my opinion, looking after your mental health is something that we should be practising all of the time, regardless of how we feel. People exercise to keep fit and healthy, so why aren’t we doing the same for our minds?
Did you know that one in four adults and one in 10 children experience mental health issues?
That’s a lot! We’re so busy rushing around, trying to get a million and one things done in our day that we’re forgetting to take some time for ourselves. And it’s causing our mental health to suffer.
Here Are 14 Ways To Help You Look After Your Mental Health
I will hopefully give you some helpful hints and tips on ways to look after your mental health.
1. Take Time Out Of Your Day To Do Something For You
It is so important to take some time out of your day to do something just for you. Everyone has their own favourite thing – you could read a couple of chapters of your book, take a bath and do face pack, do some colouring or arts and crafts, watch an episode of your favourite programme or even just have a hot cup of tea.
Remember – to have time you need to make time. I know that it’s easier said than done but it really is so important. You are entitled to take some time for yourself.
2. Eat Well And Drink Sensibly
I know, I know! It’s completely boring and obvious but it really does make such a difference to your mental health!
While alcohol can have a very temporary positive impact on our mood, in the long term it can cause big problems for our mental health. It’s linked to a range of issues from depression and memory loss to suicide.drinkaware
The odd treat is fine! Still go out for dinner and drinks but remember that regularly eating unhealthy foods and high alcohol intake is not great for you and your mental health is going to suffer!
3. Set Aside Some ‘Worry Time’
I know that this seems counterintuitive, but I remember being told once to set aside some worry time every day. Just 10-15 minutes a day, wherever is most convenient for you and allow everything that is worrying you to flit through your mind. Set a timer, then once your time is up, that’s it, you’re done worrying for the day!
By doing this, you are having dedicated time to work through any of your concerns and worries. If a worry pops up during the day, try your best to push it aside, that’s what your dedicated worry time is for. Don’t expect to be able to do it right away, it does take practice.
4. Go To The Doctors
I know that it might seem scary and you think that you are admitting defeat but you really aren’t! It takes courage to go to the doctors and admit that you need help.
You might not want to go on tablets or you’ve been on some before and they weren’t right for you but you can try different ones. This happened with me, where my tablets weren’t doing what I needed so they were changed.
If your doctor doesn’t help you or doesn’t understand, ask for a new one! Just don’t give up.
5. Exercise And Fresh Air
I’m not saying that you have to start going to the gym or running marathons. Even just popping outside and taking a little walk around the block will make such a difference. Being cooped up all day is not good for you.
Getting some fresh air in your lungs and increasing your heart rate slightly will make you feel so much better. A change of scenery will also help. Even if you potter around your garden for 20 minutes. A little fresh air and some sunlight on your skin might just give you that little boost that you need.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No To Things
Sometimes we’re so worried about upsetting people that we can’t bear to say no. BUT IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO. You don’t have to go to everything that you are invited to.
If someone has asked for your help or assistance with something, don’t feel obliged to say yes. Just say that you are sorry and maybe suggest a different time.
7. Get Enough Sleep
I am fully aware that it is easier said than done to get enough sleep.
An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health.
After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.NHS Website
Having a good nighttime routine will definitely help. Make sure that you are unwinding before bed, maybe by reading a book or doing some meditation. It also helps to try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day. Opening a window and lowing the temperature can also encourage good sleep.
8. Keep A Routine In Place
Having a routine is great for your mental health and helps you to feel more in control. If you’re all over the place, your mind is going to feel the same! Have a routine but also be flexible and open to change.
I’ve found that the days that I get up and showered and dressed early are the days that I am most productive and feel good. Like I said above, try to make sure that you’re going to bed and getting up around the same time every day and keep regular meal times. Even if you’re not going out for the day, still have a wash and change out of your pyjamas.
I love yoga. I’m not very good at it, but I love it. The great thing is, you don’t have to become a contortionist to enjoy it. There are very gentle, stretching videos that you are able to do.
As yoga is a slow workout it forces you to slow down. That combined with the breathing technique that you’ll learn in any yoga practice and you’ll feel relaxed and calm. But don’t just take my word for it:
One study found that a consistent yoga practice improved depression and led to a significant increase in serotonin levels and a decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters) and cortisol.Yoga Journal
The way I look at is it’s still classed as exercise and it’s not cardio!
10. Have A Happy Memory Box
I’ve spoken about a happy memory box before, in a previous post but they really are such a great thing to have! Anytime that you’re feeling low or anxious, you can just whip the box out and lose yourself in all the things that put a smile on your face.
A quick example of things that you can put in your happy memories box are:
- Letters And Notes
- Happy Memories
- Fragrance And Smells
See the detailed list in my post How To Distract Yourself From A Panic attack.
11. Write A Distractions List
Draw up a happy list of things that you can do when you are feeling down or anxious. Sometimes, when you’re already feeling depressed or anxious you can forget the things that you need to do. Having a handy list there already takes some of the stress out of working it out.
These can be simple little things like we’ve already discussed above. For example;
- Go for a walk
- Take a bath
- Read a few chapters of a book
- Do some drawing or colouring
- Take up a hobby – such as knitting, painting or gardening
- Watch your favourite film or TV show
- Do some baking
- Call a friend or family member
Just do whatever brings you a little bit of happiness.
12. Stay In Contact With Friends And Family
Now, this is completely up to you, but before I started talking about my mental health to friends and family I felt like I was carrying around this massive secret. As soon as I started opening up, I felt so much lighter!
If you don’t want to discuss your mental health, just generally talking to friends and family really does give you a boost. Did you know that you can do group video calling on Facebook messenger? It’s a great way for everyone to keep in contact.
Meditation is A M A Z I N G for looking after your mental health. You don’t need anything special. It takes practice but once you start you’ll be sooo glad that you did!
Trying to just meditate can be difficult so you might want to start with a guided meditation. I really like the app Breathe. They talk you through all of the mediations and it’s super relaxing. My favourite is the body scan.
All you need to do is set aside a few minutes a day. I wouldn’t suggest listening to it when you’re in bed. The number of times that I have fallen asleep during a meditation is ridiculous! Everyone is different though, it might work for you.
14. Cut Yourself Some Slack
Stop being so hard on yourself. Life is so tough! Some days will be easier than others so be kind to yourself. We’re not always going to get it right but that’s okay! It might feel like you’re going backwards some days but it’s all just part of the journey. As long as you pick yourself up and try again, then you’re doing the best you can.
Don’t feel like you have to make these changes all at once. Start by making one or two changes at a time then build up from there. Before long, doing all of these things will just become second nature.
You might find some of these difficult to begin with. Try something and if it doesn’t work for you, try a different time – It’s all about trial and error and finding what works best for you!
Selfcare isn’t selfish, it’s putting yourself first for a change. You are fully entitled to take some time for yourself and look after your mental health.
I have included some helpful numbers and websites below:
- Samaritans – Call 116 123 for support 24/7
- Shout – Text ‘Shout’ to 85258 for support 24/7
- Calm – Call 0800 58 58 58 or use webchat for support from 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year
- Mind – Call 0300 123 3393 for support from 9am-6pm Monday to Friday.
Before you go, make sure that you check out my other posts on mental health:
- How To Distract Yourself From A Panic Attack
- What To Expect From Therapy – My Experience
- How To Support Someone With Depression Or Anxiety
- The Changing Of The Seasons