When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often focus solely on our physical body. However, maintaining your mind is just as important. Focusing on your mental health can improve your immune system, increase your productivity, and help you live longer. While taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional strength on your own. There are a number of easy things you can do every day to improve your mental health. Within this article, I will give you my - top ten tips on How to improve Mental Health
Before we deal with the tips let’s look at what affects mental health?
What affects Mental Health?
To improve mental health we need to understand what affects our mental health. Mental health is influenced by:
- our socio-economic circumstances
- the social and physical environment in which we live.
- our individual attributes and characteristics.
These factors can either enhance our mental health or destroy it. They can also cause health inequalities. The World Health Organisation in their Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 stated that:
Determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, living standards, working conditions, and community social supports.
Health inequalities are rooted in major socio-political forces that drive decisions and priorities for governments and public bodies. This results in an unfair distribution of power, money and resources. The ‘wider environmental influences’ include things like the availability of jobs, good-quality housing, education and learning opportunities. Our individual experiences, for example discrimination, prejudice, low income or poor housing, have a major effect on our life and health outcomes. Social inequalities have a significant impact on mental health, with adverse life circumstances increasing the risk of lower levels of mental wellbeing and developing mental health problems. Social inequalities contribute to inequalities in mental health. In addition, people with mental health problems are more likely to experience physical health inequalities, as well as other social inequalities such as increased risk of unemployment, low income, stigma and social exclusion.
How can you as an individual improve your mental health?
Prioritise self care
Be Nice to Yourself: When you are feeling down, it is easy to be hard on yourself. While you might not be of the mind to congratulate or compliment yourself, try being compassionate. And here is a little bonus hint: If you really are struggling to be nice to yourself, do something nice for someone else. Then, compliment yourself on doing it! Recognise the importance of self-care rather than taking it for granted. Appreciate the importance of looking after yourself your physical and mental health. The following pyramid highlights a preferred healthy pyramid. Why not get a blank pyramid and draw out where you place your priorities. Maybe do this on a weekly basis to are you keeping your priorities in order.
Do something you enjoy
Try to make time for doing the fun things you enjoy. If you like going for a walk, listening to music, cooking, gardening, painting or a specific TV show, try to set aside time to enjoy yourself. If we don't spend any time doing things we enjoy, we can become irritable and unhappy.
Identify the stressors in your life
Look at what is a cause of stress in your life and deal with it by writing each stressor down. Try deal with each stressor one by one. Breaking things down into manageable chunks is easier to deal with rather than trying to deal with it all at once. Taking things one by one is a very practical problem-solving approach.
Connect with others and be sociable
Make an effort to maintain good relationships and talk to people whenever you get the chance. Having friends is important not just for your self-esteem, but also for providing support when you're not feeling too great. Telling somebody that you are sad can take some of the sadness away and sharing joy will add more joy. Humans often crave closeness to other people and sharing feelings helps.
Exercise keeps the brain and body healthy and can help improve your mood. Even taking a short walk or climbing a flight of stairs can reduce stress and increase alertness. A regular exercise routine can boost one's mood, increase concentration, and make you feel productive.
What we eat has a big impact on how we feel, mentally as well as physically. Your brain needs nutrients to stay healthy, certain types of food contain essential components for good mental health.
Sleep is important for your mental health. Most people need up to 5-9 hours of sleep. If you’re tired you will find it harder to cope. The ideal amount of sleep is 8 hours but everyone is different. Stress and anxiety can lead to sleeping problems. If your sleep has been distorted for a short while try not to worry as this can be normal. However, if this continues for a longer period then you should see your doctor. Keeping active, finding a routine, avoiding stimulants at night time, relaxing your body and mind are all simple tips to help get your sleep pattern back to normal.
Mental Health issues are very common. But one of the biggest problems is that people so often do not look for help. Asking for help is important. Help is always available. Visiting your GP/doctor can really help. He/she can help you determine whether your low mood feelings are being caused by a medical condition or whether it is your lifestyle. Ask yourself whether you are doing something that can contribute to anxiety or depression, for example working too hard or not socialising with your friends.
Take time for you
A change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be as simple as five minutes to yourself to a weekend away, or just trying something new. Just that little five minutes can de-stress you. A new environment may distract you from how bad you feel and make you focus on something else. Have a little selfish time, you deserve it
Being aware of the things that you are most grateful for in your life can enhance your inner sense of well-being. It is a very powerful way to feeling inner peace. It can help to dissolve feelings of negativity, stress or anxiety when you do it every day. I do it myself each day.
Now that you have the tips, it's time to get started. You have the power to take positive steps right now to improve your resilience and emotional health. Don't wait until you're in a crisis to make your mental health a priority. Including these tips in your day-to-day will change your life for the better. Your positivity will also begin to affect everyone around you. By following these lifestyle choices, we put ourselves in the best position possible to prevent and deal with mental health issues.