Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t ignore it! I’m sure if I asked you to think about different things you can do to improve your physical health, you would be able to list several things. However, what about your mental health? How many things can you list that will help your mental wellness?
I’m Dr. Tasha, a GP with a passion for mental health and healthy living. In this article, I will explain what mental wellness is and the five steps that you can take to improve your mental wellbeing.
What is mental wellness?
Mental wellness is a term used to describe a positive state of mental health.
If you take time to improve and maintain your mental wellness you will be happier and have a more positive outlook on life. In order to do this, you need to dedicate time for your mental wellness, in the same manner, that you dedicate time for your physical health i.e., going to the gym or skincare.
First Step: Connect
We are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others. Being valued by other people and feeling close to them has a positive effect on your mental health. Connecting with others gives you a sense of belonging. Relationships provide you with the opportunity to share your experiences and to receive emotional support from others.
Tips to help you connect more in your everyday life:
- Spend five minutes each day, to find out how someone is doing (and make sure you listen to what they say).
- Schedule regular meetups or Zoom calls with your family and friends.
Second Step: Be Active
Exercise reduces the levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that improve your mood.
For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to raise your heart rate, breath faster and feel warmer.
Tips to help you be more active in your everyday life:
- Find activities that you genuinely enjoy.
- Utilise free home workout videos that are available for free on streaming sites such as YouTube.
- Get a workout buddy.
- Have a 15 min jamming session to some of your favourite songs.
Third Step: Learn
Learning a new skill can help to improve your mental wellness by giving you a sense of purpose. When you complete the goals that you set yourself, it brings a sense of accomplishment. This has a positive effect on your mental wellness. Not only will learning something new boost your self-confidence, but it can also help you connect with others.
You don’t need to enroll in a formal course or study anything complex. Instead, spend time researching something that you are passionate about.
Tips to help you incorporate learning into your everyday life:
- When setting goals ensure they are SMART goals
- Specific: the goal should be clear. The more precise it is, the more likely you are to understand the steps required to achieve it.
- Measurable: how will you know you are making progress towards your goal?
- Achievable: your goal needs to be realistic.
- Relevant: if your goal is important to you and aligns with your long-term plans, you are more likely to achieve it.
- Time-bound: setting a deadline for your goal will help keep you motivated and focused on achieving it.
- If you enjoy cooking, try out a new recipe.
- Improve your language skills with the free mobile app, Duolingo.
- Enroll in a free online course.
Fourth Step: Give
There is research that shows that people who give their time, money or support to others are more likely to be happy and satisfied with their lives. Giving and creating positivity for others gives can give you a sense of reward and makes you feel grateful for the things that you have.
Tips on how you can incorporate kindness into your everyday life:
- Say thank you
- Spend time listening to others
- Offer to help out your family, friends and neighbours
Fifth Step: Be Mindful
Mindfulness is a term used to describe the mental state in which an individual is focused and aware of their present moment. With practice, you learn to be more aware of how you feel and think. Eventually, instead of being overwhelmed with your thoughts and feelings, you learn to control them better. Ultimately, paying more attention to your present moment can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better.
Tips to help you be more mindful:
- Take a different route home
- Enjoy your lunch in a new location
- Treat yourself to a house plant- being around nature can help ease stress levels and relax overstimulated minds.
Talking is one of the most important things you can do for the prevention and treatment of mental health problems.
If things are getting too much for you and you feel like you aren’t coping, please ask for help. Talk to your family and friends about your issues. Don’t forget you can always talk to your GP, who will be able to suggest ways you or your support system can help you. Additionally, they can signpost you to local services that are available, depending on your needs.
Remember, the more time you invest in your mental health, the stronger it will be!
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Reference: WHO, April 2016. Mental health: Strengthening our response.