Everyone needs to look after their mental health. Everyone. In these challenging times, it’s even more important. In this blog post, you’ll find 33 ways to look after your mental health, for difficult times or whenever you need a boost. They are not in any categories and certainly not in priority order. So make yourself a cuppa or a glass of something and enjoy the read.
Life can seem overwhelming and unpredictable sometimes. By including routine, you can gain a sense of control and you’ll know what to expect from the day. This could mean you’ll be less anxious about things overall. Set yourself small goals, that you build up slowly.
Further reading: Why Routine is Crucial for a Calm Mind and Life
2. Move your body-preferably in nature
Getting outside, having fresh air is so good for the mind, body and soul. I recently wrote a post about my walk in nature, you can read it here. Even if you think you don’t feel like it, within minutes you’ll feel the benefit and your feelings of contentment rise. If you can’t manage much of a walk, maybe perhaps just walk around your garden. Taking in some deep breaths of clean air and you’ll still notice a difference.
Further reading: Three Ways to Increased Wellbeing by Being in Nature
3. Recognise when you need to take a break
A change of scenery can do you the world of good. Now at the moment, we’re not talking about anything radical like two weeks in the sun. You can dream about the adventures you’ll have when this crisis is over. Small every day changes can be just as effective. If you are working at home, for example. Step away from where you’re working and take a walk around the garden whilst the kettle boils. Taking those few moments will make a real difference to calming your mind and to help you to switch off for a minutes before going back to your day.
4. Talk to a friend
It is really important to talk about how you are feeling. I appreciate this is not always easy to do. There is a real move at the moment to remove the stigma around talking about mental health, including the hashtag #itsokaynottobeokay You don’t have to put a brave face on all the time. Asking for help shows strength and courage, not weakness. Any good friend would be happy to listen.
5. Watch a comedy
Laughter really can be the best medicine. Choose a film that’s just good fun and you can laugh along with, regardless of anything else you’ve got going on. Sometimes the sillier the better!
6. Carry out a mindfulness practice
This could be any part of your day that you do in a mindful way. As you’re carrying out an activity, really focus on it entirely; the feel, sound, etc. Reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you is the first step to mindfulness.
a) Put pen to paper then just write whatever comes into your head. Do not overthink what you write, it doesn’t have to be structured. It is about getting things out of your head and onto the page. Just that process alone, brings calm, control and clarity. I have found it is a great way to work through what is bothering me and find solutions as I’ve been writing.
b) Or you can use a journal that has prompts and questions. I’ve tried a few recently, if you ask me in the comments, I can give a couple of recommendations.
8. Listen, dance and sing to your favourite music
How can you not feel happy and stress-free when you’re singing and dancing?!
9. Create helpful affirmations or mantras
Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive changes. They help increase self-reliance, help you take action with your life and build self-confidence and self-esteem.
But how do you know what’s right for you?
This guide talks you through how to create your own affirmations, re-framing your thoughts in the areas you know you need the most. Alternatively it also contains 50 done-for-you affirmations, that you can use as they are or adapt to suit you.
10. Eat well
It sounds so simple doesn’t it? But quite often when you are busy or stressed, you might be tempted to reach for the quick fixes. The not so healthy options, telling yourself that you’ve not got time for anything else. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know I’m al about treating yourself every now and again. There is something really luxurious about a couple of squares of dark chocolate in the evening for example. Use the 80:20 rule so if you remain on track the majority of the time for the benefit of overall health and wellbeing.
11. Drink sensibly
If you are drinking alcohol to change your mood and the odd glass of wine has become it’s odd not the have a glass of wine….then maybe it is time to reassess. The beginning of lockdown might have felt a bit like a holiday and far removed from your usual routine. However as the cliché goes, this is our new normal now so better habits start now. I’m partial to a crisp glass of white or a G&T as much as the next girl and allow these treats on a Friday or Saturday. Make water your drink of choice. You can glam it up with different flavours like cucumber and mint or strawberry or mango. Even use a wine glass if you want to.
12. Keep in touch
There is nothing better than face to face contact with the ones you love. But in the current climate where that is not always possible, we can keep in contact on the phone and via video calls, due to the wonders of technology. At least then we can see their faces, their expressions and make a connection that way.
13. Do something that you love
Lose yourself in doing an activity that means you haven’t got any space left for worry or stress. Another benefit is that it can be good to spend some time not being a wife, carer, employee or business owner and just be you. To choose what this is, think about what activities make you smile just at the thought of doing them. What can you be doing and completely forget the time as you are so engrossed?
14. Practice gratitude
In Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: “According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day — and why the events made them happy — lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”
15. Slowly remove toxic people from your life
Social media is an easy place to start; unfollow people that are uninspiring, negative or just leave you feeling down or less-than.
16. Make sleep an absolute priority
I’m sure we could all benefit from improving the quality of our sleep. Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference. Think keeping to the same wake up and go to bed times, reducing blue light exposure and a clean tidy space. How about going one better and creating a beautiful sanctuary that you can’t wait to relax in.
Smiling releases endorphins, which helps you feel happier and more positive. Put simply, endorphins make you feel happy and relaxed. Plus, they can act as a natural pain reliever, which helps the body in times of discomfort or stress. Smiling also releases the chemicals dopamine and serotonin, both of which lift your mood and acts as a natural antidepressant.
Clutter and mess can create more stress and anxiety. By cleaning, organizing, and reducing the clutter, you are able to take control and create a more relaxing environment. Decluttering in itself can be overwhelming. So start small with maybe one drawer or type of item and work your way up.
19. Give someone else a compliment
Knowing you’ve cheered someone else up, will give you a boost.
20. Accept who you are
We are all unique and rather than fighting this, how about embracing who you are and what you can offer the world? Yes I know that isn’t gong to happen instantly, but there’s things that you can do to help move your mindset in the right direction.
Self-Love First: A Self-Study Course to Help You To:
The mental health benefits of meditation include better focus and concentration, improved self-awareness and self-esteem, lower levels of stress and anxiety, and fostering kindness. Meditation and mindfulness induce a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. Various studies demonstrate the practice can help relieve stress — as well as manage anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve memory and attention, to boot. (brainfacts.org)
22. Stroke a pet
Research has shown, over and over again that stroking a pet or simply spending time with one, can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. I know from personal experience that they can relax you, make you smile, laugh and help you return to the present moment.
23. Simplify things
This helps in a similar way to decluttering. By having less to think about and occupy your time, there’s less to cause stress. This is a great generalisation but you can read more here: https://simply-shine.co.uk/category/simple-living
24. If you feel you need to sit in your pjs, eat chocolate and watch a movie, do it!
25. Develop a Yoga practice
There are many mental and physical health benefits of Yoga. It provides you with the opportunity to concentrate on your body and mind through your breath, which can help alleviate tension and stress. The different poses and breathing exercises serve as a tool to regulate emotions and calm the mind, which can strengthen your emotional state throughout the day.
Reading has been shown to put our brains into a state similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.
27. Remember to breathe deeply
So simple but so easily forgotten about when everything feels rushed and stressful. Pause and breathe slowly, dropping attention into the body. Do regularly on stressful days.
28. Care for others
This can really give us a boost about how we feel about ourselves, as well as helping other people. Look at ways that you could do that. there are all sorts of amazing ways especially at the moment. Perhaps you are going to the shops and you could see if your neighbours need anything. Even more simple than that is just make more effort to say hello to someone in the street. You don’t know, you might be the only person they speak to all day.
Boundaries are a crucial component for relationships, including with yourself. This includes physical, emotional and time. Discover what you feel comfortable with and don’t be afraid to say.
30. Listen to motivational podcasts
The positive and motivational sources that you can be exposed to the better. Podcasts are huge and aren’t going away. Listen when you’re getting ready in the morning, cooking dinner or pottering around the house.
31. Be aware of self-talk
Realise you are your very best friend and as such, never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to a friend.
32. Do at least one thing every day just for fun
This helps you remember that life is for living. There’s so much seriousness in the world, sometimes let’s remember to enjoy life.
33. Know what’s in your control
Don’t try and change what you can’t…only what you can. Be aware of and accept the difference.
So there you go; 33 ways to look after your mental health. I’d be interested to know which particularly resonate with you. Maybe choose 3 that you will try over the next couple of weeks and comment below to keep yourself accountable.