It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and looking after our mental health has never been more important. We’ve all been through a lot in the last year and so it’s vital to feel like we can talk to people in our lives about what’s going on with us, and look at practical things we can do to stave off those negative thoughts and feelings.
Let’s take a look at the best ways you can take care of your mental health.
1. Eat and drink well
Food effects your mood! Eating well is something we all struggle with but if you care about what you’re putting in your body you’ll really start to see the benefits. Have a good breakfast and eat regularly throughout the day to keep your sugar level steady (which means you won’t feel irritable or depressed). Quit the sugary snacks as they make your blood sugar level fluctuate.
Drink more water and cut the caffeine down (as coffee can make you feel anxious and prevent you from sleeping). Our gut health is proven to affect our quality of sleep, quality of life and therefore the quality of our mental health. So it’s worth checking up on your diet, and tracking moods with foods at the same time. You never know what you might find out!
Getting plenty of sleep is SO important and helps you feel good. It recharges your batteries and lets your body repair. If you struggle to get to sleep then try and get yourself into a pre-sleep routine.
For example; have a bath, don’t look at any devices like your phone, keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, turn the lights down and try and have quiet time so your brain and body can relax. Try and read a book or magazine in bed instead of watching TV.
3. Try exercise, especially yoga
When you exercise your body releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body. So try running (which is especially good if you feel stressed or down as it is a great way to clear your mind), go for a brisk walk with some headphones in, or follow some YouTube yogis. Getting the blood pumping to release endorphins is amazing, but yoga teams this with meditation and mindfulness, so you are doing three management techniques at once.
4. Practice mindfulness
Having time to quieten your mind and be still and reflective is so important to gain some perspective. It makes you feel calm and also gives you an opportunity to really listen and get to know yourself.
5. Talk It Out
Yep, use your voice to just let it all out. It’s best if you talk about the more serious stuff with someone you trust. Whether it’s your friends, family, your tutor or a councillor, just chat away until it feels like a weight is lifted off your shoulders.
Talking about your problems or how you’re feeling can really open up the doors to receiving some helpful advice which could help fix your problems. The best therapy is talking – a problem shared is a problem halved after all! You can reach out to one of our mentors for confidential support and advice here.
6. Practice self-care
Nothing feels better than having a bubble bath, lighting some candles and then covering yourself in moisturiser! Giving yourself some self love and looking after your body can make all the difference to a bad day, and so carving out some time to do what will relax you is a great way to keep your mental health in check.
7. Do something creative (even if you’re not good at it)
Just picking up a pen and doodling for a bit or taking some pictures with your phone can get the creative juices flowing! Or why not write a short story or try and bake and decorate a cake. Whatever it is – using your hands and creating something will give you a great sense of achievement, and can be a great way to take your mind off any things that are worrying you.
8. Daydream and don’t let anything prevent you from dreaming big
Daydreaming helps you to understand your mind and makes you realise what you want to achieve in life. If you don’t dream about things then how else would you realise what you like or want from life?
The biggest dreams may seem unreachable but everything from travelling the world to owning a business starts with a dream, so why is it any different for you? See it as dreaming being the start of your career!
Knowing what you want will in turn bring a sense of focus, excitement and happiness as you will feel like you’re on track towards something. Even if it doesn’t work out how you expect, don’t stop dreaming!
9. Keep an organised and tidy room
Yes, you’ll have messy days and you’ll have super clean days but maintaining a clean and tidy room and knowing where things are will help keep your mind organised and calm. Being in a well organised, chilled space will help to make you want to get out of bed and achieve something or at the very least, make you feel positive about the space you’re in.
10. Try and take time out from social media every day
Not just 5 minutes! Try an hour offline, you’ll be surprised at the results. It’s easy to feel like you’ll miss out if you put down your phone and step away from the group chat, but it will help you to feel like you have a sense of independence again. Also, it can help you step away from dealing with other people’s drama and focus on yourself, and will help you to stop comparing yourself to everyone on social media.
It’s also been proven that the frequent use of smartphones is linked to harmful effects on mental health. So, don’t let your phone control you, you’re in control of your phone, you’ve got this.
11. Meet some new friends
It’s great to have friends who all know each other. But it’s also really good to have friends from different social groups so you can enjoy a diverse mix of people. You might meet people that could change your life when you step out of your comfort zone, or perhaps people that are more supportive of you than those in your life already.
12. Do something nice for someone
Doing something to improve someone else’s day is proven to make us feel good as well, especially when we know or care about that person. Cook your family dinner, buy the next person in line’s shopping or take away, write a little note for someone you love letting them know that. It’s fun and you’ll also feel really warm and fuzzy inside doing something for someone else.
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