Mental health is so important, it’s not something we can see but the way we feel affects everything we do in our lives. If you feel down, anxious or just not like yourself, you’ll never be able to enjoy life to its full potential and can look back and feel as though you’ve wasted your best years. If you’re having ongoing mental health issues, it’s crucial to speak to a doctor to get onto the right treatment, but there are a few things you can do yourself to make everything run much more smoothly. Whether you have an ongoing issue or just feel upset or anxious at times, all of these things can really help.
Take care of your body
It’s long been established that health and mental health are strongly connected, and taking care of your body can lead to improvements in the mind. Eating a healthy diet gives you all of the vitamins and nutrients you need to thrive, which is particularly important as a lack of B vitamins and folate have been linked to mood disorders. A healthy diet will give you more energy making it easier to enjoy life and get out there and do everything you want to do. It can also help you to think more clearly, avoiding ‘brain fog’ and prevents you from feeling sluggish and lethargic by the afternoon. If you’ve eaten an unhealthy diet for a long time, it’s possible that you don’t even realize how rubbish you feel. Adopt an ‘80:20’ eating plan, where you eat healthily for eighty percent of the time while allowing the remaining twenty percent for things you really enjoy. This suits most people in a real-life setting, enabling them to get in their fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain and lean protein, but in a way that’s easy to maintain as they don’t feel deprived. Exercise and mental health are also closely linked, with physical activity actually causing the release of serotonin (the brain’s ‘happy chemicals’) into the body giving you a natural mood boost. Exercise and diet can also improve the way you feel by giving you more confidence and self-esteem, look after yourself and you get the benefits of an improved physique, healthier hair, skin, nails and more. Mental health is all about self-care, and looking after your body is a great place to start.
As humans, we’re highly influenced by our surroundings. Even if you don’t see yourself as a particularly house proud person or think that mess doesn’t really bother you, on a subconscious level it will be having a negative effect. Mess and clutter feels chaotic which can leave us feeling unsettled, research has even linked a messy bedroom to trouble falling asleep. There’s something so satisfying about getting your surroundings sorted and organized, so have a declutter. Get rid of anything you no longer need or use, donate it to charity or give it to friends if it’s too good for the bin. Find good storage solutions for everything you have left so it’s easy to find and access things every time you need them. Have a deep clean, organize your home, desk at work, your car and anywhere else you spend time. You’ll feel so much better for it, and it can generally make you feel as though you’re on top of things in your life.
Sort out your finances
Money is something that just about everyone stresses about at one time or another. Regardless of how much you earn, it’s important to be able to manage it well so you’re not accumulating debt or falling into arrears. The stress of debt can be significant, and a little planning and thought means it can be avoided. Set up an account specifically for bills, and set them to come out via direct debit. That way, every time you get paid you can transfer in a set amount and the bills essentially take care of themselves. There’s no risk of spending back into the money, as it’s in a separate bank account. Use an app, budgeting software or just a notepad to work out your money and ensure that your priority bills are always being paid first. Work out what disposable income you have, and ensure you’re only ever spending this much to prevent falling behind. Getting insured can also give you peace of mind, things like buildings and contents insurance protect you if anything happens to your home or possessions. Dental and medical insurance means you won’t end up out of pocket if something goes wrong with your health or even mental health. There is help out there if you’re on a low income, professionals like Cynthia Telles, for example, are known for providing mental health and psychiatric care for those on a tight budget. But if you’re able to, plan ahead for these possibilities. As with the above point, it all comes down to being organized and being in control of your life.
Spending time with people we care about is what life is all about. As the old saying goes, no one ever said on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’ We have to work to be able to afford the life we want, but don’t be so busy working that you forget to live outside of it. Make seeing the people you love a priority, spend time with family and friends as it really is good for your health. It can help you to relax, have fun and laugh! Organize weekly or monthly meets. Arrange days out, picnics or barbeques when the weather is good. Indoor activities such as the cinema and movie days at home are great for when it’s cold or rainy. Don’t just rely on social media to keep up to date with loved ones, where possible meet in person and spend that quality time with them.
If you’re in a bit of a rut, travel is a great way to broaden your horizons, introduce you to new things and generally help you to relax and have fun. Lots of people put off traveling because they don’t think they have the time or money, but chances are if your prioritize you may well be able to make it work. Camping, backpacking and other types of vacations are cheap to do, there are even groups that solo travelers can join which is ideal if you’re not able to rope someone into going along with you. We all lead busy and chaotic lives which can often lead to burnout, relaxation time is so important and a week or two away really enables you to distance yourself from work and everyday life. It can refresh and revitalize you and replenish your energy. Perfect for giving your mental health a boost.