It’s important to take care of yourself and get the most from life. There are practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need take up loads of time.
1. Talk about your feelings
Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.
Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.
It’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling. If you can’t think of one word, use lots. What does it feel like inside your head? What does it make you feel like doing? If it feels awkward at first, give it time. Make talking about your feelings something that you do.
2. Keep active
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. Exercise keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy, and is also a significant benefit towards improving your mental health.
Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better.
Exercise also keeps the brain and your other vital organs healthy. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sport or going to the gym. Walks in the park or on the beach, gardening or housework can also keep you active.
3. Eat well
A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel.
Food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body.
A healthy balanced diet includes:
- lots of different types of fruit and vegetables
- wholegrain cereals or bread
- nuts and seeds
- dairy products
- oily fish
- plenty of water.
4. Drink sensibly
We often drink alcohol to change our mood. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary.
When the drink wears off, you feel worse because of the way alcohol withdrawal symptoms affect your brain and the rest of your body. Drinking is not a good way to manage difficult feelings. Apart from the damage too much alcohol can do to your body, you would need more and more alcohol each time to feel the same short-term boost. There are healthier ways of coping with tough times.
Occasional light drinking is perfectly healthy and enjoyable for most people.
5. Keep in touch
Strong family ties and supportive friends can help you deal with the stresses of life. Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever’s going on inside your own head. They can help keep you active, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems.
There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face. But that’s not always possible. Give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open. It’s good for you!
It’s worth working at relationships that make you feel loved or valued. But if you think being around someone is damaging your mental health, it may be best to take a break from them or call it a day completely.
6. Ask for help
None of us are superhuman. We all sometimes get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear.
Speak to a Health Professional if difficult feelings are:
- stopping you getting on with life
- having a big impact on the people you live or work with
- affecting your mood over several weeks.
7. Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, 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’. Take a deep breath… and relax. Try yoga or meditation, or just putting your feet up. Listen to your body. If you’re really tired, give yourself time to sleep. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers and our concentration goes downhill. Sometimes the world can wait.
8. Do something you’re good at
What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past?
Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. Concentrating on a hobby like gardening, drawing or just doing crossword can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood. An hour of sketching lets you express yourself creatively.
9. Accept who you are
Some of us make people laugh, some are good at maths, others cook fantastic meals. Some of us share our lifestyle with the people who live close to us, others live very differently. We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else.
Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence to learn new skills, visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn.
“Being happy with who I am now means I enjoy living in the moment.”
Be proud of who you are. Recognise and accept what you are not good at, but focus on what you can do well. Work out if there’s anything about yourself that you still want to change. Are your expectations realistic? If they are, work towards the change in small steps.
10. Care for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together. Why not share your skills more widely by volunteering in your local community? Helping out can make us feel needed and valued and that boosts our self-esteem.
It also helps us see the world from another angle, and that can help to put our own problems in perspective.
For more information visit the Mental Health Foundation