October 10th, is World Mental Health Day.
The day was created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was designed to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world. This year’s theme is inequality. Our sister company OneLife Suffolk spoke about these inequalities and their ideas for World Mental Health Day.
The day also provides an opportunity to empower people to look after their own mental health and provide support to others.
So we wanted to put together some tips to help you look after your mental health. Here at MoreLife, we are firm believers in taking time to look after yourself. We know it can be challenging, and so many other priorities have to be taken care of first. However, your wellbeing is very important and when you are feeling ok, you’ll be better able to manage all the other things life sends your way.
This guide is here to help you. Not just today, but any day you’re looking for a reminder on how you can take care of your mental health.
It has been proven that physical activity helps your mental health. It releases feel-good hormones that make you feel better in yourself and give you more energy. Also, when you’re active, you’re giving your brain something to focus on, so for some people it can act as a well-deserved break from everyday stress.
We understand that physical activity can be scary. Don’t worry, we’re not here to tell you to sign up for a gym membership or start running every single day. When it comes to exercise, you need to ask yourself: what will you enjoy? You are much more likely to stick to an activity you actually like doing. This can be going on a walk, dancing around the kitchen, or doing some gardening. Even trying to sit less during the day means you’re being more active.
What you feel like doing may differ depending on the day. Try different things and see what works best for you.
You may be surprised to learn just how much your diet can impact your mental health. There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel. In other words: your food impacts your mood. Your body and brain need a mixture of nutrients to function well.
Healthy eating can be difficult, especially when you’re feeling low. Small and slow changes to your diet can make a difference to your mental health. Not sure where to start? Try eating more slow-releasing energy foods, which will help keep your blood sugars steady throughout the day and help give you more energy. These foods include oats, wholegrain bread, nuts and seeds. Breakfast is a particularly good time to set yourself up for the day.
So we’ve explored the physical ways you can look after your mental health. Now let’s look at the mind itself. You may have the word “mindfulness” get mentioned a lot, but what does it actually mean? And how it can help you?
Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. Our mind easily wanders. It’s a natural and human thing to do. However, mindfulness is noticing when these wanderings happen and bringing it back to the moment. There are lots of different ways you can try this. We have a podcast where you can find out more.
Mindfulness is a skill and definitely takes practice. You can start slowly and see if you can make it a regular part of your day – brushing your teeth is a popular time to practice mindfulness. Or combine it with activity- go for a walk with no distractions and take notice of all the plants, birds and animals you see along the way. It isn’t an easy thing to master, so be patient with yourself as you practise.
Understanding Your Feelings
You may think that looking after your mental health is making yourself happy all the time. However, it is ok – and totally normal – if you are feeling low, frustrated, or angry in response to difficult situations. It is when these feelings start to get in the way of our life, we may need to find support. For example, feeling sad because you miss a loved one is completely appropriate. But if the sadness doesn’t improve with self-care and starts to stop you doing the things that are important to you, you may need some help from an expert.
If you think you need help with your mental health, we have listed resources at the bottom of this piece. You are not alone and there are people you can talk to
Connecting With Others
Connecting with other people improves your mental wellbeing. Even saying good morning to someone you don’t know can help boost your mood. This is because humans are social creatures, and we like to know that others are there for us. From the good times, like coffee catch ups or going out with friends, right through to the harder times as well. Having someone to talk to can help. It’s worth repeating the classic advise: a problem shared is a problem halved.
Speak to someone you feel comfortable talking with. This can be to your friends, your family, or perhaps you want to seek professional help. If you want to seek professional help your GP should be able to offer you a telephone appointment to discuss available options.
Look up your local mental health services- many accept self-referrals so you can put yourself forward for support.