It is estimated that 1 in 6 people suffered poor mental health in the last week. 7.8% of the British population are believed to meet the criteria for being diagnosed with anxiety or depression. As with physical health, there are things we can do to help prevent mental health problems, or help alleviate the symptoms of common issues such as anxiety and depression. Read on to discover ways to boost your mental health. A few small changes can have a significant impact.
1. Eat and Drink Well
More commonly associated with physical health, diet and nutrition have a big impact on our emotional wellbeing too. By eating a healthy diet, you improve your physical health and help your brain to function optimally. Alongside eating healthily, it is helpful to reduce or avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant. It changes your brain chemistry and makes it harder to handle the downs of life.
2. Open Up
Keeping strong emotions locked within ourselves can be a recipe for mental health difficulties. There’s good sense behind the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Talk to trusted friends or loved ones if you’re feeling down, anxious, worried or stressed. Sometimes talking to an impartial non-judgmental professional can help too. You can search the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy for a counsellor or therapist near you.
3. Try to Be Active
Regular exercise releases endorphins – the ‘feel good’ hormones. It’s a great mood booster. It also helps you sleep better too, helping to guard your mental health. If you’re not used to regular exercise, then the trick is to do a small amount and build up gradually. Find something you enjoy doing, whether that’s a walk with the dog, an early morning swim or perhaps even a dance class.
4. Seek Support
Modern living pounds us with full schedules and constant demands. Many people live with added pressures including young children, elderly parents, busy jobs, financial worries and more. Seek help and support with the practical daily living problems you face, and you’ll feel mentally more able to cope with everyday life.
Even the shyest character will benefit from some contact with others from time to time. We’re social beings, and whether it’s a coffee and natter, or a text message chat, connection with others can help you look outwards.
6. Build in Down Time
Whilst a holiday would be great, they tend to come only around once or twice a year. In your everyday life build in some downtime when you can relax and unwind. Set aside time for a lazy bubble bath, a snuggle under a blanket with a book, or whatever you know helps you to recharge your batteries. Simply changing the pace for a while can help you to de-stress and refocus.
7. Harness the Power of Mindfulness
Perfect for incorporating into our busy lives, mindfulness is an easy to learn technique which is proven to have mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety. You don’t need any specialised knowledge or tools to get started. However, it can be useful to be guided until you’re experienced at practising mindfulness for yourself. A good starting point is the Headspace app which is free to start with and offers short guided sessions so that you can see if mindfulness could work for you.
8. Value Yourself
Jostling behind many common mental health problems are issues with low self-esteem and a poor sense of self-worth. Give yourself a mental boost by doing something you’re good at, jotting down what makes you unique, or times you’ve felt good about yourself. Accepting that you are a valued human being is a bedrock for good mental health.
9. Be Grateful
Having an attitude of gratitude can help boost our feel-good scale, and has been hailed as making us happier. Coupled with the knowledge that ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ we should aim to spend some time each day actively acknowledging our gratitude for the good things in life and the people around us.
Alongside an attitude of gratitude, adopt an approach of giving. Whether that’s a simple kind word, or the act of volunteering, helping others to feel better can bring benefits to us too.
Hopefully, by implementing some of the strategies above, you can boost your mental health. If you’re concerned about your mental health, then make an appointment to see your GP who can discuss your unique situation.