Discover a few simple steps to look after your mental health.
Everyone knows that feeling, when life gets on top of us. We feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and sometime low and have trouble sleeping.
Life affects us all differently. We all go through difficult times, and negative emotions can be a healthy reaction to the challenges we face. But for many of us, things can become more serious, and each year as many as 1 in 4 of us experience a mental health problem.
Being aware of what can affect our mental health can make it easier to understand when we, or someone we care about, are struggling, and it helps us think about what we can do to improve things or where to get support.
Things that affect our mental health include our:
- upbringing and environment, which shapes our brain development when young and opportunities throughout life
- experiences, like our relationships, how we are treated, our financial situation, work, where we live, physical health, life events and the changes we go through
It may be everyday events, one-off experiences or several things building up. Even experiences that are positive can be difficult to cope with sometimes.
How we feel is often a completely natural reaction to challenges. But for some of us, these feelings can become more difficult to manage, especially if they do not go away – after a while, what we’re experiencing affects our daily life.
Things that affect our mental wellbeing include:
- personal life and relationships
- money, work or housing
- life changes
- health issues
- traumatic life events
- smoking, alcohol, gambling and drug misuse
But there are steps we can take to turn things around!
Mind – Body – Spirit
Mind – Think Better
Body – Look after yourself Better
Spirit – Believe Better
The key to managing mental health is to have a balanced life, this doesn’t mean a perfect life, it doesn’t mean everything has to go to plan or you need to be good and perfect all the time. It means having the things around you that help you get through life, it means learning to understand what you need for that day, week or month.
Not enough sleep = the same as being drunk.
There have been studies showing that if we don’t have enough sleep we are not functioning properly, we function the same way we do when we are drunk.
Sleep is important –
- We need it to relax the body
- Repair any damage and rebuild the immune system
- Calm the adrenals and the brain
If we don’t get enough sleep, we can
- Gain weight
- Knock our hormones out of balance
- Lose focus and concentrate
- Make poor choices
- We are quick to snap at others
Try to wind down before going to bed and follow a regular sleep routine to help regulate your body clock.
We all know we need food for energy but do we think about the food we are putting inside us and how that affects us?
Caffeine and sugar spike – Bread and Carb coma
- Caffeine and sugar spikes – We have a high then we drop
- Bread and Carb coma – We start our day with toast, two slices then a sandwich at lunch time, home for a bowl full of pasta, a pizza, etc we been filling ourselves up with heavy foods that take a lot of energy to break down so we become tired and struggle with our day….. and need another cup of coffee.
I’m not say we can’t eat it, if we eat healthy most of the time the caffeine, sugar and carbs won’t affect us as much.
Exercise and Movement
- Have more than just one way of exercising, so when the weather changes you have something else to do.
- Make sure you do some sort of movement at least 3 times a week for 30 mins or more.
- Gentle exercise is also good for you, stretching, yoga, Tai chi, swimming
- Do exercises at home, go for a walk, even if it cold – wrap up
Relationship, Family, Friends and Community
- All of these play a big part in our health, support from others and helping others are great for our mental health.
- It easy to shut down and not see many people, which is OK but don’t shut down completely
- It you are working from at the moment remember not to be to hard on yourself or other in the house, as life has changed and things will be done differently.
- Now a lot of us are working from home this paragraph is irrelevant but still good to remember. Try not to take your work or your worries home – I know it sounds hard but giving the problem/worry some space can help sometime solve it – A fresh way to look at it when you go back. Keeping work and home life separate is also good for your personal life.
Intellectual stimulation, Creativity and Play
- Using our brain helps stimulate not just the mind but the body as well
- Avoid just sitting in front of the TV watching endless programs, change things up
- Reading, listening to podcasts, talks – Ted talks and videos
- Learning something new, courses, workshops – online, night school, weekend
- Do something creative – write, draw, make something, photography
- Go and have some Fun, Play, Laugh!
Spirituality and Sense of purpose
- Spirituality and sense of purpose come in many ways. Find what works for you.
- Having this can help you to get through the bad times and stops us being a Victim to life.
Your Mind Matters
Remember: – your mind matters and what we think is what we become!
Words are more than just words, they are energy, they are tools that create the world we live. If we are saying negative things about ourselves, we create that energy and environment. e.g.
If we say ‘I’m no good, I never finish anything’ we have just created this to happen, as we have told ourselves (reinforced our mind/subconscious) we are no good and what we are about to start we will never finish. – Try: ‘I can sometime find it hard to stay focused, but if I find new tools and techniques, I will achieve my goals and dreams’
If we say ‘I’m always stressed or I have anxiety’ we are telling ourselves we have a problem and it can’t be changed. But if we identify that we can get stressed or feel anxiety, we have taken ourselves out of the problem and now find a way to deal with it.
Sit and breathe – Begin by sitting comfortably and close your eyes.
Take a few deep breaths – Take a deep breath in and feel your lung fill up.
As you let out all your breath, make a noise – loud and long, allow all your tension, worries, fears and negativity out with the breath, see them all leave your body.
Feel your shoulders drop.