For most of us, the world we inhabit is filled with pressure.
Some of us only realise the effect of these stresses when it’s too late and we’re engulfed by a devastating tornado of emotion mixed with exhaustion.
We can calm such storms by creating a programme of self-care. A routine that calms our reactions to these pressures.
Here are a few tips to develop a self-care programme that can will help you maintain a good level of emotional and mental well-being…
1… Eat Well:
Whilst common sense dictates that eating is essential to our survival and physical health, we don’t always consider the impact it has on our mental health.
Brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, amongst others, influence how we think, feel and behave, and are, in turn, affected by what we eat and when.
- Eat lots of fresh fruit and veg.
- Try to cut down on shop bought meals loaded with fat, sugar and additives.
- Eat until you’re 80% full at suitable times of the day.
2… Sleep Well:
Mental health and sleep are interlinked.
Our daily performance can be severely hindered by a poor night’s sleep, which can impact on our mental health more particularly if it’s a regular occurrence.
- Develop a regular time for going to sleep and waking up.
- Avoid stimulants before bed-time, instead try a hot milky drink or herbal tea.
- Cut down on technology, gaming and mobile phones. All can activate our brain, rather than calm it before we try to sleep.
It is generally accepted that being active has a positive impact on mental health.
Without some form of exercise slotted into our lifestyle our physical health can suffer but it can also impinge on our moods, thoughts and, worse still, cause serious mental issues (or complicate issues we already have).
Remember, you don’t need an annual gym membership to maintain good mental health, a simple increase in activity is all you need.
Just move people!
- Take a brisk walk a few times per week.
- Take the stairs, not the lift.
- Join an exercise class suited to your ability.
If you have any concerns about your health, make sure to get advice from a qualified professional before beginning any sort of exercise routine!
4… Learn To Relax:
Living in this pressurised world, full of targets and deadline dates, we sometimes feel like we can’t relax.
The truth is we can if we make some time! Even if it’s only for 5 minutes per day.
Failing to relax affects our well-being because it develops into a constant state of chronic stress.
If left unattended, chronic stress can have serious impacts upon our mental health, causing problems like burn-out, anxiety and depression.
- Listen to your favourite songs.
- Meditate and be mindful about the moment you are in.
- Spend time daydreaming.
- Take a walk around the block.
- Catch up with friends.
5… Get Outdoors:
If possible, get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.
When we stay indoors, we can easily focus on life issues that loop over and over in our thoughts.
This can increase our feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation, all impacting on our mental well-being.
Being outdoors, however, can provide major benefits.
Horticultural therapy is just one example. Being out in the sun increases your vitamin D levels and the reward of a good grow contributes to happy hormones released in your brain!
Additionally, it gives us something different to focus on, something that can help alleviate mental strain.
- Do some gardening.
- Walk to town.
- Visit somewhere you’ve not been to before, or for a while.
- Take up an outdoors hobby.
As the old saying goes, a trouble shared is a trouble halved.
Asking for help or talking about mental issues doesn’t come easy for many people.
This again can result in people focusing on problems and intensifying the impact of such problems.
This often seeps into other areas of life, resulting in low mood, anxiety or even depression.
- Talk to a friend or associate you trust.
- Speak to a counsellor.
- Ask for help, it can be quite surprising how many people will be willing to listen or assist.
- Don’t bottle things up, talking can re-frame the situation or result in a solution.
Too many times we compare ourselves to others; finding fault with ourselves over the slightest comment or action.
The impact of this can be lower moods, loss of self-esteem or a dislike of who we are and what we do – which fuels the growth of a mental illness.
- Identify your strengths; the things you’re good at.
- Think and/or speak about what you like about yourself – you only need one or two things to begin with.
- Set goals for yourself and recognise your successes when you achieve them, no matter how small.
- Have some fun and enjoy the moment.
- Be grateful and optimistic.