Mental health is much more than a diagnosis, as it involves your overall psychological well-being: the way you feel about yourself and others, as well as your ability to manage your emotions and deal with everyday difficulties. While taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps every day to find an emotional balance to improve your mental health.
That’s why, in support of Maternal Mental Health Week, we have decided to suggest 7 practical lifestyle tips for you to improve different aspects of your life: from your sleeping patterns to your outlook on life, or the practice of mindfulness.
1. Think Positively About Yourself
How you think about yourself is directly linked to how you feel, carry yourself and so will impact your own self-esteem. If you think about it, the way you perceive yourself and your life can result in how you’ll appreciate our own experiences. Try to use words that promote feelings of self-worth and personal power, such as: “I can do this”, “I’m perfect for this task”, “I’ve done this so quickly, I’m on fire today”…
2. Eat A Good Meal
What you eat nourishes your whole body, including your brain. Carbohydrates (in moderate amounts) increase serotonin, a chemical that has been shown to have a calming effect on your mood. Protein-rich foods increase norepinephrine, dopamine, and tyrosine, which help keep you alert.
Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, or folic acid that feed every cell of your body, including those that affect mood-regulating brain chemicals. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in fish, nuts, olive oil, or flaxseed) are proven to fight depression, anxiety, autoimmune diseases, and help restore structural integrity to the brain cells.
3. Write Down Something You Are Grateful For
Gratitude has been clearly linked with improved well being and mental health, as well as happiness. So why not keep a gratitude journal or write down a daily gratitude list – because contemplating gratitude and reminiscing about positive events can also be effective. Bear in mind that once probably won’t be enough, to really make this work you’ll need to give it time and keep doing this as part of your routine.
Your body releases stress relieving and mood-boosting endorphins before and after you work out, which is why exercise is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. Look for small ways to inject some physical activity to your day – like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or going on a short walk. To get the most benefit, the NHS advise for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on 5 days every week.
Also, it can be a good idea to try this outside, as exposure to sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, which increases your level of serotonin in the brain. Plus, time in nature is also a proven stress reducer according to Science Daily.
5. Focus on 1 Thing At a Time
Being mindful of the present moment allows us to let go of negative or difficult emotions from past experiences that weigh us down. Start by bringing awareness to routine activities, such as taking a shower, eating lunch, or walking home. Pay attention to the physical sensations, sounds, smells, or tastes of these experiences to help you focus better on the present. When your mind wanders, just bring it back to what you are doing now.
6. Be Selfless, Help Others
Being helpful to others can have a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. When you think about it, if you are helpful and kind to others – and valued for it – it can be a great way to build your self-esteem and create a positive circle around yourself. The meaning and positive energy of helping others can then enrich and expand your life.
7. Go to Bed On Time
Sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep, is a well-known form of torture. Web MD is calling it a “sleep debt” which is like being overdrawn at a bank… Too little sleep may cause: memory problems, depression, a weakening of your immune system, and an increase in perception of pain. So try to go to bed at a regular time each day, and (if you can) get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to help prevent any sleeping disorders.
If your need some practical tips on how to feel happier, please read our January blog: “10 Happiness Tips to Start 2019 Right”