Poor mental health can make life a miserable business, as well as having a damaging effect on family and friends. Although many people recognise that it’s important to help people who have a diagnosed mental health problem, there can sometimes be a lack of awareness regarding the importance of pro-actively managing mental illness.
Making a conscious effort to relax, relieve stress, communicate and look after yourself not only helps to make day-to-day life more enjoyable, it can also reduce the risk of developing anxiety, stress or some other distressing mental illness. Follow these suggestions to help keep your mental health in top condition.
Keep active and move more
Exercise has numerous mental health and physical benefits, which is why it’s vital to get some in every day. With plenty of scientific evidence to show that exercise relieves the symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as promotes feelings of well-being, aids restful sleep and can even improve cognitive performance, it’s an absolute must as part of a lifestyle that has good mental health as a priority.
Connect with friends, family and your community
Getting out there matters. When we feel sad, angry or miserable, there can be a tendency to withdraw from social situations. Counterintuitive though it may seem, spending time with other people, even if you don’t discuss your problems, will often provide the positive distraction you need to feel a little better.
Help other people
Helping others actually does help us to feel better, research shows. Whether you make an extra effort to help your family, or treat a friend, little acts of kindness and assistance make us feel better about ourselves, as well as offering practical benefits to someone else. If you have time, volunteering is also an excellent way of helping your wider community at the same time as benefiting your mental health – a fantastic win-win outcome.
Get enough sleep
It’s commonsense that everyone needs a decent night’s sleep in order to stay on top form. Practise good sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques should sleep be elusive at times. If you have problems sleeping, it’s worth visiting your GP to rule out any physical problems, before trying strategies such as natural sleep remedies, meditation, deep breathing, visualisation and/or mindfulness.
Be involved in the arts
Whether you play a musical instrument, sing, paint, sculpt, write or act, taking part in a creative pursuit is possibly one of the best things you can do to boost your mental health. Plenty of studies have shown that expressing creativity can boost mood, improve the ability to relax and even reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Reassuringly, the results don’t need to be exceptional in order to see the benefits of the activity. If you’re not the next Picasso or Yehudi Menuhin, it makes no difference – simply participating is enough.
Learn to deal with conflict in a healthy manner
As the saying goes, “Into every life a little rain must fall”. It’s inevitable that, through time, you will encounter unreasonable or unfair behaviour from others. Dealing with it appropriately is key to maintaining good mental health. If you find that the way in which you deal with rudeness or unreasonableness doesn’t give you the outcomes you want, it’s time to look at different ways of handling things. A good therapist can often provide insight into why you act as you do, as well as giving you some space to consider what more appropriate outcomes may be open to you.
Tackle problems early on
Ultimately, just like physical health, you can put plenty of strategies in place to regulate your mental health before your state of mind becomes too disordered. If you feel that you’re not dealing with life as you would like, or are concerned about your emotional state, it’s important to seek help early on. Whilst everybody goes through “rough patches”, if you feel that things aren’t resolving within a reasonable time span, or are getting worse, it could be that professional intervention is needed. Knowing when to seek outside help is a key part of caring for your mental health.
If you would like further assistance in caring for your mental health, please get in touch to find out more about my counselling sessions. I am here to help.