Positive advice for looking after your mental health
Posted by: The personal injury help and advice team
One in four adults will experience a mental illness at some point each year in the UK. This can be anything from anxiety and depression to alcohol dependence and stress in the workplace. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and it’s important for us to look after our thoughts and feelings as we would our bodies if we came down with a physical illness.
There are lots of factors that can affect our mental health; a traumatic experience, change in routine, relationship breakdown, health problems or work stress, but sometimes, a reason can’t be pinpointed. The symptoms of mental illnesses can be complex and vary widely between people. For example if you’re feeling depressed or anxious, some of the symptoms you may experience are; feeling tearful, lack of motivation, feeling panicky, low energy, anger or frustration. It’s important that we recognise these signs and are aware of the everyday things we can do to keep our minds healthy.
The Personal Truths team have taken a look at some of the things we can do in our everyday routine that release endorphins (happy hormone) and help us to feel more positive in our day-to-day lives.
If you’ve been slightly low in mood lately but don’t feel like it’s impacting your everyday life, you’re likely to benefit from the following advice and opinions. However, if what you’re feeling is seriously affecting you, you’re having negative thoughts or feel you can’t keep yourself safe – it’s important to understand that you’re not alone and ask for help as soon as possible. There is always someone available to talk to and along with a friend, family member or GP, there are also lots of support services available, which you can find contacts for here.
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better. The chemicals released in your brain during exercise make you feel good and the more exercise you do, the easier it becomes. The recommend amount is 30 minutes, five times a week. This can be anything from running and swimming, to a dance class or yoga.
Eat and drink well
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A balanced diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Also, drinking the recommended two litres of water a day will give not only give you more energy, but will also boost your immune system and rid your body of toxins – feeling healthy physically will help you feel healthy mentally.
Take time for yourself
It’s important to dedicate time to yourself, especially if you have a busy schedule. Why not try one of the following?
- A hot, relaxing bath
- Have your favourite dessert
- Sitting down with a cup of tea and a magazine
- Setting aside time to paint your nails
- Go for a drive & listen to some of your favourite songs
- Colour or write
- Go for a run
- Escape with a tv series
Keep in touch and be social
Supportive family and friends can help you deal with the stresses of life by making 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, so don’t cut them out. Say yes when you’re invited to things and don’t be afraid to explain how you’re feeling.
Take a break
It’s easy to feel down if you don’t have something to look forward to. There is no time like the present to visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore, or book a weekend away with a loved one. Even booking a treatment at the spa or a new class at the gym will give you something to look to that’s different from your everyday routine.
Do something you’re good at
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 can help you forget your worries for a while and change your mood. Why not take up a new hobby which will give you a focus, such as learning to play an instrument?
Write it down
Sometimes we have so much going on inside our head that it makes it difficult to concentrate on one thing. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, write down your feelings and emotions, that way you can look back and rationalise why you’re feeling that way and do something about it. If you’re experiencing feelings of sadness, write down everything you have to be thankful for, what you like about yourself and why so many people are worse off. Seeing these things in a list will register better than a passing thought.
Care for others
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. It can even bring you closer together. Why not share your skills more widely by volunteering for a local charity? Helping out can make us feel needed and valued and that boosts our self-esteem. Caring for a pet can improve your wellbeing too. The bond between you and your pet can be as strong as between people and you’ll feel needed.
Limit social media
We live in a society where the majority of people only put the positive parts of their lives on social media, creating the illusion that everyone’s lives are perfect. This in turn can make us think ‘why isn’t my life like that’ and our self-esteem and sense of self-worth suffer. When in reality everyone has problems and no one’s life is perfect. Make sure you limit the amount of time spent on social media to prevent yourself from being caught up in this world of unrealistic expectation.
Talk to someone
If you really feel like you can’t control your negative emotions; you’re unable to get out of bed in a morning or are having thoughts of self-harm, you will feel a lot better once you take the first step and speak to someone about how you’re feeling. If you don’t feel like you can talk to a family member or a friend, make an appointment with your local GP, contact metal health support services or call your local crisis helpline who will make sure you get the help you need to feel better.
Please note that this article was produced by The Personal Truths team as opinions and information only