While some of us may notice a decrease in our mental health, we don’t have to notice a decline to remember to look after our mental health.
Here we have identified some key factors that can help us to maintain our positive mental health.
- Counsellor or therapist
Trained professionals provide an environment in which to safely discuss and work through any challenges a person may be facing. However, therapists and counsellors do not just see clients with challenges. Many people see a therapist simply to have the space and time to connect with themselves and their mental health.
Talking is obviously a big part of seeing a trained therapist or counsellor but it doesn’t always have to be a practitioner who provides the listening space.
Reaching out to friends, family and even online support communities can prevent us from bottling our emotions up. Repressing emotions can be a risk factor in mental ill health..
If there is someone you trust in your life, reach out. Talk honestly about how you are feeling, and allow that person to listen. They don’t need to offer precise support, sometimes just airing our concerns and worries and having someone listen and understand is enough to lessen any mental strain.
- Keep active
Exercise boosts endorphin levels which are a great weapon in the fight against mental ill-health.
Even twenty minutes of exercise a day can make a difference, whether that’s walking, running, or hitting the weights room in the gym. Yoga, which combines breathing techniques alongside meditation, can ease stress and help to improve our mental wellbeing.
- In touch with nature
Over the past year it’s been all too easy to sit indoors and lose touch with the outside world and the beauty and power of nature.
This stagnation in our routine and disruption to our lives is partly responsible for the overwhelming surge in mental illnesses that were recorded throughout 2020.
But there is a way to help this: It’s by (safely) getting outside. Whether that’s for a ten minute run around the block, a flask of coffee on a socially distanced stroll or a mug of tea in a courtyard garden, reconnecting with the world around us can reduce feelings of anger and fear. Getting outside can boost our endorphins, lower our blood pressure and reduce tension held in our muscles.
When we’re all working from home, it can be hard to keep active and stay in touch with nature. We’ve devised some other methods to help if your mental health is struggling while working from home. Read more on them here.
- Eat well
Comfort eating can be one a go-tos when our mood lowers and we find ourselves at home for long periods. Fatty, greasy or sugary foods may provide us with a temporary lift, but eating long-term will have a negative effect.
The odd bar of chocolate or cake isn’t going to hurt, but ensure you monitor how often you reach for the sugar-hit. Where possible, incorporate good fats, lean meat, fish, fruit and plenty of vegetables into your diet. Fish especially contain omega-3 oils which are a healthy fat. They help to boost our mental capacity, making us more switched on and productive which in turn makes us feel more accomplished, happier and stronger.
- Avoid negative outlets
If we are constantly exposed to negativity, or something which lowers our mood and makes us feel overwhelmed, sad and helpless, that will have a long-term effect on our mental wellbeing.
With the rise in devices that we all own, and the explosion in screen time, constant rolling news, that updates by the hour, can be hard to get away from.
One option here is to switch it off, although as we are all often working on screens that can present its own challenge. But we need to try to step away from this negativity and focus on the positive, nourishing, or sustaining things happening in our lives.
Social media can also negatively influence people’s perceptions of themselves and their lives. If something brings feels of negativity or uncertainty, reduce your exposure to it. Choosing to appreciate small, but meaningful positives, is one way to combat negativity and enhance our overall well-being.
- Seek help and support
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If you are feeling sad, overwhelmed, unsure or just not quite right but you can’t put your finger on it, it may be time to book a consultation with your doctor or other health professional so that they can begin to point you in the direction of resources that can help.
- Take a break
Rest and recuperation are key factors in improving our mental health.
While it may seem tempting to ignore any stresses and carry on in order to distract yourself from challenges you may be facing, it will detrimentally impact your mental health in the long term.
Instead, schedule some time off work and fill it with things you enjoy. Throughout your time off, you may be able to reconnect with friends and family and take walks in the open air. Together, all these helpful elements can help you recharge.
If you’re someone who finds it hard to switch off and take a break, challenge yourself and understand that part of being productive includes taking a break and having time to replenish. This doesn’t waste time, it saves time in the long run.
Finally, indulge in your favourite activity or hobby. Whether that’s ballet, surfing, knitting, mountain climbing or whatever you find fun and exhilarating, find the time to do it.
The more we interact with the things we enjoy, the more we boost our endorphins which can lessen feelings of stress and tension.
Identifying things that can help our mental health is vital in learning positive methods that we can take to manage our mental health and stop our symptoms spiralling.
Becoming a mental health first aider is another way in which a person can learn to help others who may be struggling with their mental health. Mental health first aiders play a key part in the workplace because they are able to be pillars of support, whilst also being on hand to identify if someone is struggling.