Looking after our own mental health is vital – it gives us the tools to cope with all the twists and turns that life throws at us on a daily basis, and it helps us to support those around us who may be struggling.
Good mental health does not mean we have to be happy all the time; it’s natural for us all to have ups and downs in our mood.
But just like our physical health we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves mentally so that when we hit tough times, we are able to find the resilience to cope.
So, what can we do to make sure we are maintaining our mental wellbeing as well as our physical fitness?
Here are 10 suggestions of how we can take care of our mental health every day:
Humans need connection; we need to feel seen and understood. Social connections are an important element in our happiness and good relationships can lead to better physical health. Feeling at ease with someone in a positive, mutual relationship makes us feel safe and calm. We should take the time to build positive, strong relationships so that not only do we have that connection, other people do too.
We’ve heard all the old sayings about ‘sharing is caring’ and ‘it’s better to give than receive’ and there is a lot of truth there. Being generous and kind makes us feel good, it’s as simple as that. People thrive in communities and making social connections (see tip 1!) is vital for us to feel safe and happy. Remaining part of that community and feeling valued is part of what drives us to make a positive contribution by giving and being kind while not expecting anything in return. This can be hugely rewarding.
Many of us spend hours sitting down during the day, but studies have shown that short bursts of movement are vital to keep our emotions regulated. If you are office-based, it is still possible to find ways to keep moving. You could set a reminder to get up and have a walk round the room every hour, walk around while you’re on the phone, even do stretches in your chair. Moving around releases feel-good chemicals that improve your mood.
We all need time to step back and take a breath to stop those feelings of being overwhelmed in their tracks. Being over-stimulated can have a negative effect on our concentration, our sleep and our mental wellbeing and can leave us in a vulnerable place emotionally. Sometimes it only takes a minute or two to escape the chaos of life and regulate your emotions; a brief meditation or walk round the park may be enough. Other times it might take a day away from work or even a weekend away. The important thing is not to plough on regardless because this can be counter-productive and damaging to our mental wellbeing.
Learning has long since been associated with wellbeing and happiness. Growing and challenging ourselves and overcoming challenges gives us a real sense of achievement, boosting self-worth and confidence.
It is important that we are able to show compassion not just for others but for ourselves. It’s easy to be tough on ourselves, but being a little kinder to ourselves can have an enormously beneficial impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Occasionally we need to put ourselves first before we can do the same for others.
You don’t have to do everything at once – this can be overwhelming and lead to mental paralysis or burnout. Breaking a task down into smaller chunks makes it easier to do, and making progress will make you feel more positive. A young child learning to read will often be told to break the word down into smaller parts and learn it bit by bit. This is an effective lesson that remains true through our lives.
Sleep is a vital human need – going without it can bring all sorts of problems, but making sure we have plenty of it brings calm and helps sustain us physically and mentally. It’s important to establish a good bedtime routine and take steps to ensure we are getting enough good quality sleep to maintain good mental health. You can read more in my blog here: https://helpfulcoach.co.uk/insights/a-bedtime-story-why-sleep-is-vital-for-good-mental-health/
9 Watch what you eat
What you consume can affect every aspect of your physical and mental health. A good healthy diet packed full of the nutrition we need is essential to maintain our energy and wellbeing. And this isn’t just true of food – we can also be consuming news, social media and absorbing what’s going on in the world around us. This may be toxic and can have a lasting negative effect on our mood. Make sure you are consuming what you need and stick to good quality, positive content.
10 Find a sense of purpose
A sense of purpose can have a hugely positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It can be as simple of complex as you like – it could be raising a family, excelling in a chosen career or following a passion. And it can change as you go through life – our purpose doesn’t have to stay the same. It can be tough to find a purpose if you feel as though you are drifting, but one way to work out what it might be is to ask yourself ‘why’. Why do you live where you live? Why do you like it? Why do you do the job you do? Why do certain things make you happy? This may bring some answers.
If you are struggling in anyway or experiencing poor mental health, I can help give you the tools to improve it. Get in touch and see how I can support you.