5 Ways to improve your mental health
The global pandemic has understandably led to a rise in mental health issues, so taking care of your mind as well as your body is really important. You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be low, worried or anxious, or concerned about your finances, your health or those close to you.
It's important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these feelings will pass.
There are a number of things you can do to help look after your mental health.
1. Talk about your feelings
There is a reason why people say and problem shared is a problem halved! Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.
Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.
2. Eat Well
There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel, for example, caffeine and sugar can have an immediate effect. Food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body.
A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
A healthy balanced diet includes:
- lots of different types of fruit and vegetables
- wholegrain cereals or bread
- nuts and seeds
- dairy products
- oily fish
- plenty of water.
Eat at least three meals each day and drink plenty of water, the NHS advises we should drink about 1.2 litres (6-8 glasses a day) to stop us getting dehydrated. Try to limit how many high-caffeine or sugary drinks you have, and avoid too much alcohol.
Plan you meals and pre-prepare meals where possible to ensure you make healthy choices and don't feel stressed or overwhelmed at meal times.
3. Keep in touch
Strong family ties and supportive friends can help you deal with the stresses of life. Friends and family can make you feel included and cared for. They can offer different views from whatever’s going on inside your own head. They can help keep you active, keep you grounded and help you solve practical problems.
There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face. But as that might not be possible right now, give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open. It’s good for you!
Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. If you exercise regularly, it can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.
According to advice from the World Health Organisation adults aged over 18 years:
should do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, including muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week.
older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
But any physical activity is better than none. Start with small amounts of an activity you enjoy such as walking or cycling and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.
5. Do something you enjoy
Think about the activities you genuinely enjoy and can lose yourself in. Maybe it's a hobby you haven't done for a while but used to enjoy.
Enjoying yourself helps beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it and achieving something boosts your self-esteem.
Concentrating on a hobby like gardening, baking or reading can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood.
Source: Mental Health Foundation