5 Top Tips to look after your mental health
These 5 steps have been proven through studies and experience and can be found on both the NHS website and GOV.uk in order that we can nurture our own mental health. I have expanded the steps with top tips that have benefitted my clients.
CONNECT – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
One good way to do this is to make friends with them on social media, share only positive stories, quotes and photos.
Try and do something kind for them, often.
Call them up to meet for coffee, a meal or a trip to the cinema. If you don’t feel you can make the first move explain to some close friends or family members that you would be interested in being included.
Music, particularly live music, really lets you feel that connection too and if you can experience it with friends, even better.
BE ACTIVE – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football or tennis. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
In my experience, the gym is probably the last place you should go if you’re feeling low, depressed or anything but tip top! In fact, it’s probably the opposite of what you should be doing right now. Walking is fabulous, or if you’re disabled in any way just getting out in the fresh air and rolling/walking with friends or family is even more fabulous.
Find a gorgeous piece of countryside, by the sea, a lake, in the forest or mountains, along the high street even! Swimming, Tai Chi, jogging, martial arts, yoga, or whatever you can manage physically it really doesn’t matter.
If you can include some of the other steps in this you can tick a few of these boxes at the same time, for instance, if you find an activity that keeps you learning, giving and active all at once, it’s a triple whammy! One of the best activities for this is gardening, especially gardening in a community project or even starting something yourself, for instance, we have a few in Stoke on Trent, one that looks after the elderly peoples gardens through volunteers, great if you don’t have much of a garden yourself, and one that gives all its residual produce to the local food bank scheme, fantastic! Or you can apply for an allotment through your local borough council.
KEEP LEARNING – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike?
There are so many learning opportunities out there; you can learn anything from watching YouTube videos to joining the Open University and everything in between, look at me! I changed my career at 53! Studied for 2 years, took courses and the subsequent 11 exams, you can do it.
GIVE TO OTHERS – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
I love to cook, so for me, I make chutney, ketchup, pates that sort of thing and give it away to friends and family and they all seem to love it! I give my time to people who sometimes don’t know where to turn. Whatever you feel you can do well give some of it to your nearest and dearest.
BE MINDFUL – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
Take time out to think. Sometimes we feel that our busy lives don’t afford us the time we need to process and prioritise, but actually we only need 15 – 20 minutes a day, I’m sure we can all find that amount time in the short term, as in the long term we could be looking at stress, anxiety and even depression if we find ourselves losing a grip on our world.
Get somewhere on your own, turn everything off; the TV, the computer, your phone, the bath or hot tub is a good place for this, or sat on your bed, in the outdoors, on the train, anywhere, if at home though light a few candles, put some uplifting essential oils in a burner or in your bath water. Think about what your life is demanding of you and how best to put it into practice. Prioritise, organise and think about what task to take on next, how you will achieve it and then move on to the next thing. It will all come to you. Write it down if you need to and cross it off as you complete the tasks, it will take that heavy burden from your shoulders and allow you to become serene and competent in your life. If you decide you need to delegate or ask someone to help you, just ask them.
Be kind to yourself, Denise x