Smile Being You Tips for Looking After Your Mental Health and Thriving
The topic of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, led by the Mental Health Foundation from 8th to 14th May 2017, is surviving or thriving. I have experienced struggles with my own mental health and been on my own personal journey over a number of years from surviving to thriving. As such, I’m sharing some of my learning in support of this campaign to offer ideas and inspiration to others.
It’s not easy living with mental health problems and it’s well known that mental health support services are lacking in many areas. With statistics saying that one in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, chances are you either have personally experienced a mental health condition or know someone who has. In any case mental health is important for everyone, not just those experiencing a specific challenge. Positive mental health helps people to live life to the full and cope with lifes ups and downs, and it also supports physical health.
The good news is there’s lots of things you can do to boost your mental health and wellbeing. Some of these ideas are covered in the Smile Being You blog and here are 12 suggestions for looking after your mental health to help you thrive more in life and smile more being you.
12 Tips for Looking After You Mental Health and Thriving
#1 Talk to someone
Find someone to talk to – that could be a friend, partner, family member, neighbour, teacher, colleague, doctor, therapist or a helpline… there is always someone who will listen. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can really help – read my ‘Ten benefits of talking about my mental health’ post for some examples. If talking is a struggle, you could reach out by a text or an online message. Find a communication method to suit you and remember it’s okay to talk and to ask for help.
#2 Connect with others
Feel the positive benefits of connecting with other people. Find a group to join, be that one related to your interests, a mental health support group, or something entirely new. The internet makes it much easier to find activity groups with online tools like MeetUp and alike.
#3 Exercise your body
Run, jog, walk, zumba, hool-a-hoop, skip, garden, hoover… however you choose to move, just move and get your heart going and those positive endorphins flowing!
#4 Expand your mind
Take up a new hobby, read a new book, visit a new place, complete an online course… learn more about yourself and the world. Enjoy the learning process and expand your mind.
#5 Relax & rejuvenate
Take time to relax, be that listening to some meditative music, having a soak in the bath with some aromatherapy oils, putting your feet up and reading a magazine, or chatting at your leisure to a friend… you could even book a holiday! However, hectic life seems, remember it’s important and it’s ‘okay’ to take time out for you.
#6 Have a cuppa
Enjoy the soothing effects of a warm cup of tea. Explore all the wonderful herbal blends available, replacing black tea with some caffeine free options. You could also try a relaxing night-time blend before bedtime to support a restful night.
#7 Support good sleep
Try to adopt a routine of winding down before bed, limiting digital screen time during the hour beforehand and slowing the body and mind with, perhaps, some gentle yoga, guided meditation or a gratitude exercise. There’s lots you can do to help improve your sleep and to help you wake well.
#8 Nourish your body
Ensure your body gets nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs by eating a healthy, balanced diet, including a colourful array of plant-based foods. Minimise alcohol and keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Seek help from your doctor, a dietitian or nutritionist if you need a little guidance.
#9 Meditate & be mindful
Learn and practice some regular mindfulness meditation, then apply mindfulness techniques to everyday life to help you live more in the moment and foster a state of calm and clarity whatever situation arises. There’s lots of mindfulness websites, apps and resources to help you do this.
#10 Spend time with nature
Get outside, breath some fresh air and admire the beautiful natural world that’s all around us. Enjoy a day out in the countryside, take a stroll around your local park, watch the birds in your garden, or take a mindful walk around your town or city.
#11 Do something new
Try new activities to help you break out of habitual patterns, adopt a more flexible approach, increase your sense of freedom and boost your self-esteem. And you might just meet plenty of interesting people along the way!
Wherever life takes you, whatever life throws your way, there is always something you can appreciate. Something you can feel grateful for being, having, seeing, hearing, feeling, watching, knowing or experiencing. A positive way to end the day can be to think of three things you are grateful for in the present moment.
See what helps you thrive
There are many actions you can take, as well as seeking professional help, to improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing. The list above provides tips for looking after your mental health as a starting point. You’ll find various ideas covered in more detail the Smile Being You blog.
You may find taking a well-rounded, holistic approach is the best way of looking after your mental health and wellbeing. You don’t need to do everything. Everyone is different. Try different actions and activities, observe how they make you feel and find the unique combination that helps you to thrive and smile more in life.
I look forward to sharing more ideas with you on Smile Being You.
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