We spend so much of our time taking care of our physical appearance and physical health these days. But when was the last time you put as much effort and time into your mental health?
I am by no means a qualified doctor or psychiatrist in the area of mental health. I have never experienced any period of serious anxiety or extreme depression in my young life so far. However, I have empathy for those who have. I also sympathise with those who have because I have come across many instances of the above with family and close friends of mine. This blog may be for them. This blog may also be for any person trying to overcome that kick a rock down the street mentality.
So as today is World Mental Health Day, I feel it is the perfect time to share with you my 8 tips to boost your mental health.
- Focus on the present
It can be very hard to live in the present. We tend to worry about the future quite a lot because of fear of the unknown. We also tend to dwell on the past, wondering why this particular something had to happen to us. Without realising it, we place all our feelings and emotions in a situation that we hold absolutely no control over. This can really damage our mental health, like I have said before, if you let your mind run, it will run rampantly. That’s why we must control our own thinking.
How you can make efforts to focus on the present is by literally taking each day or week as it comes. I try not to worry about what I will be doing in a year or two. Of course, its great to have a long-term plan, and I do, but I don’t let it consume my life or my thoughts now. It can be very unhealthy for your mind to obsess with the future. I’m not telling you to completely disregard it, just be aware of it and be aware of what you want to do. If you look too far ahead you may miss the beauty and opportunities that are right in front of you today. So ground yourself in the “Now” and start taking everything in today.
- Engage with Others
This sounds fairly simple but making social connection with those around you shouldn’t just be online. It’s great we can take advantage of the latest technology to contact anyone at any given time. But Face to Face time remains a great way of opening up, expressing feelings and seeking advice.
Make an effort to maintain good relationships and talk to people at every given opportunity. Having friends is important not just for your self-esteem, but also for providing support when you’re not feeling too great. Sometimes you need those around you to pull you through tough situations. This lone wolf mentality that some people pride themselves on will only get them so far. Whether we like it or not, we are a co-dependant species. We need each other, so use each other! In the politest way.
- Eat a Healthy Balanced Diet
One of the most important tips I could possibly give in this article. It goes without saying, a healthy diet will lead to a healthier body. A healthier body will lead to a healthier mind. What can we describe as a balanced diet? You can’t go wrong with going back to basics here.
First off, start incorporating more fruit and vegetables in your diet. These are full of vital nutrients and minerals that you will need to maintain your overall health. Start your days with a healthy breakfast such as porridge or granola with mixed fruits. Avoid snacking on junk food, instead look for healthier alternatives such as mixed nuts or low-calorie yoghurts. For dinner, you want to be eating a nice lean protein such as salmon or chicken breast. In my opinion, salmon is a real superfood as it has loads of amazing benefits for your body & your brain.
I discussed these foods & many more in my recent blog “8 Healthy Foods that should be in your basket” which can be found using the following link http://bit.ly/2kK8sbi. If you’re looking for the perfect balanced diet, then this blog acts as the perfect template to get you started if you haven’t already.
- Exercise regularly
I believe by now it is well documented the benefits of exercising regularly for your mental health. Again we can bring it back to basics here, make some sort of work out plan and stick to it. Start off by aiming for three days in the gym either lifting weights or doing some cardio. If the gym isn’t for you, join a sports club or start going for a walk or run every evening with a friend. Just get your body moving and active.
I’m going to go on a bit of a rant here, I just don’t understand how some people don’t exercise or workout. Personally if I don’t have the time for a workout, I know I’m not going to get that good feeling that working out gives to me. Exercising regularly helps me feel relaxed, it helps me feel carefree. I can be like an anti-Christ when I can’t get to the gym or if I miss a week of training. Just ask my girlfriend!
In all seriousness, it can be hard to translate this message to someone who hasn’t got that good feeling of regular exercise over a long period of time. They haven’t been able to feel the long-term benefits of such, which can neutralise depression and anxiety, I promise it’s better than anything you would receive in a bottle from your doctor. It can boost brainpower, reduce stress, increase energy, improve your heart health and it makes you sleep like a baby.
- Set milestones for your goals
I’m someone who swears by setting milestones towards your goals. I believe that setting and achieving short term goals gives you much more confidence than the feeling associated with looking at the overall picture. I’m not saying to start limiting your dreams and ambitions, you must be very aware of the overall plan. But I would suggest starting to mark milestones towards them. This can relate to my first tip on focusing on the present.
In my final year in college last year, my overall long-term goal was to graduate with a second-class honour. The milestones I set towards this achievement were completing continuous projects, studying for my winter exams, finishing my dissertation, and finishing my end of year exams.
I took them in that order, focusing on each one independently. When I received great results in my winter exams, that only spurred me on and gave me great confidence to push on and get the results I wanted with my dissertation and my end of year exams.
We all love the feeling of victory. You can look back and say to yourself “Look what I am capable off”. Meeting milestones helps build confidence, self-esteem and pride in yourself. These are all vital elements to strong mental health.
- Switch Off
I honestly can’t recommend this one enough. Especially if you are my age, whether we like it or not our generation is obsessed with social media. We scroll through news feeds looking for nothing, we compare ourselves to celebrities who portray a life that is simply not reality and we wish we were in other people’s “glamourous” situations because of how it looks. Not everything we see on social media is an accurate representation of what is going on in people’s lives.
I did in fact delete all my social media apps back in January for three full weeks. It was around my winter exams and I saw it as a great way to avoid unneeded distractions at a vital time of the college year. The benefits were endless to be honest. I had so much extra time to myself to get my jobs done, I felt more carefree as I wasn’t comparing my situation to others,
Take a break off of all social media platforms for one full week and see how you feel after. I can guarantee you will feel the benefits I felt and it does wonders for your mental health.
- Sleep Well
Maintaining a regular sleeping pattern is vital for both physical and mental health. Having a regular routine is most important when it comes to sleep. You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
What a lot of people don’t know is that being on your phone an hour before bed will damage the quality of sleep you will have that night. Putting the phone away along with not eating or drinking before bed will guide you towards the perfect nights sleep.
For whatever reason, some people are nearly proud to only get 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night and they rock up to work with a coffee feeling ready to go. Yeah, that’s not me. I love my sleep. I need my 8 hours and so do you for your long term health.
A quote I will never forget from Sleep Doctor Neurologist Andrew Walker is that: “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting”
- Have gratitude
For me, the secret to happiness. Everything can be brought back to gratitude. Being grateful for what you have, and not worrying about what you don’t have. No matter what your circumstances are, there will always be someone worse off than you. Be thankful for the family you have, the friends you have, the health you have, the job you have, the car you have. The list goes on.
You will be happier. I know it can be tough to look at it this way if you are going through a tough time, but you must know you have that support system around you.
A Final Word
Life can be described as one big phycological warfare that we play on ourselves every day. The most important conversation you will ever have in life will involve only one person, you. Don’t let others dictate the dialogue in your mind.
Vinny Pyper – Marketing Co-Ordinator