There is a growing awareness of the role mental health plays in our nation’s wellbeing. Depression, anxiety, and other conditions are a growing problem in many areas of the country, with poorer areas being worst affected.
The stigma around mental health has prevented many people in the past from being honest with themselves and others about their mood and happiness. Today, celebrities like Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax are now spear-heading campaigns like “Time-to-Change”, to encourage openness and honesty about mental health in the public space.
It’s important to remember that mental health is not something that affects just those with a diagnosed condition; everyone has “mental health”.
The smart people these days are taking pro-active steps to head off any potential problems in the future by taking steps today.
See below for some time great tips for improving one’s mental health. Be aware – some of these tips are easy, some of them are hard…
Tip for Improving Your Mental Health
- Exercise has a dual benefit – it benefits body and mind together. What sort of exercise should we be doing? An NHS Choices expert says ): "Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,"
- 2) Meditation – The evidence for the positive physical and mental health benefits of meditation is extensive. Mentally, meditation (or mindfulness) makes you calmer, aids concentration, and can generally aid feelings of positivity and wellbeing.
- If you’re stressed out, just 20 minutes meditation a day can improve your mental health. If you unsure how to meditate or how to get started with it, there a plenty of free guides available online, such as here: http://zenhabits.net/meditation-guide/.
- 3) Stop Smoking – whether your vice is smoking, drinking too much, or taking something stronger, these can all negatively influence mood.
- According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, “If you have a mental illness, you are more likely to smoke. 2 out of every 5 cigarettes in England are smoked by people with mental health problems.”
If you smoke, you are also more likely to feel anxious and depressed, and even develop a mental illness – though no-one’s sure why. So the two are interrelated.
- 4) Eat Your 5-A-Day – A good diet can do wonders for you psychological wellbeing. Mental Health Charity Young Minds mention
- "There is increasing evidence of a link between what we eat and how we feel. This is called the ‘food – mood’ connection.
How we feel influences what we choose to eat or drink – and a healthy diet can protect our mental health.”
- They give “food-mood” tips such as don’t skip meals, eat your 5 a day, and try to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. It goes without saying that eating fruit and veg benefits the whole body, including your brain!
- 5) Value Yourself – Valuing your self is simply caring for yourself, being kind to yourself. Many people who suffer with mental health problems are familiar with caring for and being nice to others, but not with themselves so much.
- Valuing yourself is simply treating yourself like your own best friend. Remember, valuing yourself is not being self-indulgent, it is simply treating you in a way you deserve.
- 6) Establish a Good Social Network – For many young people today, perhaps their social interaction of choice is Social Media. Millions of people spend hours and hours Tweeting and posting on Instagram and Facebook. Is Social Media good for us? A recent study suggests not... The Guardian reported recently that Social Media is risking teens’ mental health.
- But if you are considering a real life interaction, consider this - If you are feeling a bit low it can be the last thing you want to do is speak to a friend. But all the evidence suggests that those who have stronger social relationships generally have better mental health outcomes.
- So call up that old friend and invite them round!
- 7) Know Your Weak Points/Get Help When You Need It – Knowing where you are vulnerable is a valuable life skill to anybody, but doubly so for people with problematic mental health.
- Know your weak points, know what affects your mood, and especially know when you need help. It could be a trip to the GP, or just having a relaxing bath in the evening in order to wind down.
- Know yourself, and treat yourself kindly.
- 8) Give to Others - Try doing 1 genuine good deed a day for someone else for a month, and see how it makes you feel. The BBC reported recently that “A study published in the journal Emotion reports that performing acts of kindness may help people with social anxiety to feel more positive.” So – being good can make you feel good.
- If you want to do more, try volunteering. Helping out with a local charity can give you excellent social contact and a boost to you for just doing your bit. Give it a try!
- 9) Be Part of Something Bigger – Being part of a cause, of church, or community project can lift you outside yourself and give you sense of meaning and purpose.
- The UK Charity “Action For Happiness” says that “People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression.”