Looking after your mental health isn’t something you should only focus on when things are getting tough and you’re feeling low; Mental health is relevant and important all the time. Not only does having good mental health make us feel better in ourselves, but it can also help us sleep better, function better, have a more positive outlook on life and build stronger relationships.
But having ‘good’ mental health doesn’t always mean it’s sunshine and rainbows. You can definitely still have good mental health but still have a bad day… and that’s ok. When you have poor mental health and these bad days occur more regularly, that’s when it can start having a negative effect on your everyday life.
It’s so important to understand that everyone handles mental health differently and so not all tips to improve mental health are suited to everyone. You should always consider what’s best for you and what you feel comfortable with doing.
The most important thing in your mental health journey is to not compare yourself to anyone else. Mental health-wise or not, everyone deals with things differently and at their own pace, so don’t worry if someone seems to be healing at a quicker pace than you. Take your time and focus on you and what you need and want to get out of every day.
Here are five tips to help improve mental wellbeing:
1. Don’t under estimate sleep
Sleep plays a big part in our health and not only physical, but mental health too. It’s incredibly important that we get enough sleep to function properly and take care of our minds and bodies.
The best way to do this is by getting into an evening routine. Take time to wind down before bedtime and don’t use any blue light devices such as phones or laptops during this time, unless they have the ‘night-time’ setting; Blue light makes it more difficult for you to fall asleep and it can also affect the quality of the sleep you’re getting.
Make your room the perfect ‘sleep zone’. Ideally, the bedroom should be cool and dark; If your room doesn’t get dark enough, then consider investing in a pair of blackout curtains or an eye mask. Pillow sprays are also great for helping you drift off to sleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, making sure there’s no time for bed-time thoughts and anxiety.
2. Socialise with those around you
Spending time with friends and family not only improves your mood, but also helps take your mind off negative thoughts. Socialising in 2020 hasn’t been the easiest, but a phone call, FaceTime, or a socially distanced walk has never been easier and can make all the difference – it may even turn your mood around.
If you feel comfortable enough to, discussing how you feel with someone can help take a weight off your shoulders and can often help you consider things from a different perspective. Alternatively, chatting about something completely different and having a laugh can improve your mood significantly.
As the saying goes ‘Laughter cures all’… this is more true than you think. When you laugh, your brain releases chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel better. So make sure you make time to laugh with friends and family and watch everyone’s mood perk up!
3. Eat Well
We all know a balanced diet is important for our physical health, but did you know it’s also important for mental wellbeing too? Deficiencies in certain vitamins can have an impact on our mood, so make sure to eat a balanced diet. Our stomach is also the brain of our body and without fuel, you’re already adding some more pressure on it.
Balanced is the keyword here – it doesn’t mean you have to cut out junk food or remove certain food groups from your diet. Being more conscious of what you put in your body can help in the long run. Alcohol and caffeine can also negatively affect your mood, so cutting down on those is really important – the bonus is that this will also improve sleep quality too!
4. Take Time For You
Taking time for yourself is super important and after all, if there is one thing we learnt in lockdown, it’s that self-care is vital. Whether you’re running a hot bubble bath and popping on a face mask, taking your pup on a fresh dog walk or sitting on the sofa reading a book, do something that you enjoy.
Practicing mindfulness can help massively with mental wellbeing and is becoming more and more common in those who struggle with their mental health. There are endless things you can do that are ‘mindful’, the most obvious being meditation; The act of sitting and learning to be present in the moment, removing all distractions, can really help when it comes to controlling your thoughts and anxiety on a day-to-day basis.
Meditation doesn’t have to be done sitting cross-legged indoors either. Try taking a long walk outside, find a bench, pop your headphones in and practice being in the moment. Vitamin D from sunlight can also boost your mood, but don’t forget to wear SPF.
These are just little things that all add up in boosting your mental wellbeing, but it’s also about experimenting and finding out what works best for you. Improving your mental wellbeing is a journey, so don’t pressure yourself.