10 Tips for Improving Your Mental Health
We all understand how important it is to keep our bodies healthy and well. Even though the understanding around mental health is improving in modern society, there is still a lot of work to be done in helping the general public understand that mental health is just as important as physical health.
Mental Health Week 2020 is from Saturday 10 October to Friday 16 October and its purpose is to help boost mental wellbeing throughout all WA communities.
According to the Mental Health Week’s official website, the aim Mental Health Week is to encourage all us to look after ourselves and support one another, promote mental health literacy, encourage self-care, educate through tips and advice, and raise awareness of various mental health issues to help combat the stigma that is still associated with both mental health and seeking help.
Mental Health Week
It’s vital that we all look out for one another and take care of ourselves and our mental health. In this article we outline 10 tips to help you improve your mental health and your life in general.
1. Eat well
Eat a well balanced, nutritional diet and cut back on alcohol/drugs
More and more research is coming out by the year associating diet to one’s mental wellbeing. Poor diets and unhealthy eating can obviously affect your physical health, which may in turn negatively impact your mental health, but even unhealthy food itself can directly make you feel worse. Eating a healthy and well balanced diet containing fats, fibre, and nutrients will help you manage your stress and anxiety levels, improve your sleep, positively impact your ability to concentrate and help you feel better in general. Another key to improving your mental wellbeing is cutting back on excessive alcohol and/or drug consumption. Both of these substances can affect the way your brain feels and works, harming your ability to think, feel, create, and even make decisions.
2. Get enough sleep
Make a concerted effort to go to sleep at a regular, early time
Sleep is linked with numerous health-related consequences, both physical and mental. While some psychological or psychiatric issues may cause sleep problems, not getting enough sleep itself can also exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety. Getting enough hours of sleep consistently, every night, and getting to bed early or at a reasonable hour is a smart strategy towards living a healthy, happy life.
3. Keep active
Commit to some form of regular consistent exercise
Much like diets and sleep, exercise or other physical activity impacts both your body and your mind. Keeping active, whether it’s playing sport, going for long walks, practicing Yoga, going to the gym, or running, will help lower stress and anxiety levels, as well as help you improve your self-esteem. Being active and exercising isn’t easy for everyone. If you struggle, try motivating yourself by running with a friend or listening to your favourite music/podcasts while going on a long walk. Just keep moving.
4. Limit media & technology use
Try reducing your amount of technology use and media consumption on a daily basis
You might not consider yourself addicted to social media or your smartphone and other devices, but it is often much more difficult to limit or reduce media consumption and technology use than you’d expect. The impacts of excessive and prolonged social media and other media consumption can be harmful. Even over-consumption of news can negatively impact your mental wellbeing. There’s no need to cut it out completely from your life and go cold turkey. But try limiting when or how you use it. Here are some specific pieces of advice to help you with this tip:
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom so it’s not the last thing you check before going to sleep or the first thing you look at in the morning.
- Don’t use your phone half an hour before bed or for the first half an hour from waking.
- Put your phone down on another table during meal times where you can’t reach it.
- Try challenging yourself by going a whole day without checking social media.
5. Focus on friends
Make an effort to reconnect and socialise with friends
Connecting with others is an important part of living a balanced life. Socialising with genuine friends who you enjoy being around will help you feel better by staving off loneliness and negative feelings. You can find an activity that you enjoy, such as completing a puzzle or playing a board game, or you can simply catch up and chat. It’s up to you, but there’s no need to go it alone! Humans are social creatures, so focus on your friends.
6. Do something fun
Actively set yourself some time to do something you enjoy
What do you enjoy? Reading? Painting? Gardening? Dancing? The possibilities are endless but it’s very important for your emotional wellbeing that you spend a bit of time dedicated to doing something you genuinely enjoy. Whether it’s just 5 minutes a day or a bit longer, having a bit of fun can help alleviate stress and focus your mind on something that brings you genuine joy. There are also activities that can bring you happiness that you might not expect or normally associate with “being fun”, such as donating old clothes to charity or doing some volunteer work.
7. Do something fun
Set yourself an exciting, fun new challenge
At first glance you might think this is a rather trite suggestion, but the truth is that setting yourself an exciting yet challenging task is an uplifting and engaging activity. Learning something new is a positive stimulant that will help improve your mental health. Make sure it’s something you want to do but have never tried before. You could bake something you’ve never baked before, write a new type of story, learn a new skill like woodwork, try a new form of art, or go for a hike on a new trail. Remember that this is just for you. You’re not learning a new skill to kick-start a career change, impress others or even to become a master in this new area. It should be fun, stimulating and exciting for you!
8. Practice mental health exercises
Small exercises can make a big difference
This tip is a little more focused on improving your mental health directly. Engaging actively in mental health improvement might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Small steps can make a really huge difference over time. Choose one or two mental health activities that appeal to you and schedule them regularly and consistently in your schedule. Some examples include:
From mindfulness to slow breathing exercises, meditation can be really impactful.
Writing your feelings and thoughts on paper can help relieve your mind, clarify your thoughts and help you feel better.
Physically getting up and stretching can help improve the way you feel and think.
Engaging in some sort of activity that makes you actively laugh can elevate the way you feel.
Dance/Listen to music
Dancing and listening to spirit-lifting music is an excellent way to help you mentally.
9. See the sun
Make sure to spend some time in natural sunlight
This one is a little less obvious. It’s easy to move from house to car to office to car to house. On repeat. Getting exposure to sunlight will elevate your serotonin levels, a hormone which can help boost your mood, increase feelings of calm and improve your focus. Spend some time outside regularly and soak up the reinvigorating rays of sunlight to help improve feelings of depression, stress and anxiety.
10. Ask for help if you need it
Everyone needs help from time to time
There is NOTHING wrong with seeking help for your mental health and wellbeing. Whether you just want to confide in a trusted friend or feel the need to engage the services of a professional, seeking help if you need it is the smart, mature, healthy thing to do. Unfortunately our society still carries a bit of a stigma in regards to mental health and seeking help. But this is changing. People are beginning to understand not just how prevalent mental health issues are, but how important and normal it is to seek help. You don’t need to do this alone.
Part of this year’s Mental Health Week theme is “looking after your mental health”. Here at One Central Health, we could not be more onboard with this theme. Everybody deserves to live happy, healthy lives and we’re here to help you achieve that.
If you find our 10 tips for improving mental health overwhelming, ignore 9 of them and start with just 1. You’ll then find yourself ready to add a second in no time, and then a third and so on…
Remember to take care of yourself!
For more information about the “look after your mental health Australia” movement, visit their website.