An important aspect of keeping fit and healthy is looking after your own mental health. This aspect of your well-being is often overlooked, but techniques for preserving your mental well-being are as essential as exercise is for promoting physical health.
The Covid-19 pandemic played a crucial role in pushing the conversation about mental health to the forefront. During the government-imposed restrictions, many people experienced a decline in their mental well-being due to feelings of isolation and emotional exhaustion. We are now adjusting to life post-Covid, but the conversation triggered by the pandemic has led many to reconsider their approach to preserving their mental health. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you look after yourself, even when you’re faced with adversity.
Engage in Physical Activity
Regular exercise is one of the most effective means of boosting your mood. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins that are associated with the positive mental state people experience after physical activity.
Exercise is a powerful way of improving your self-esteem and can also help reduce symptoms associated with poor mental health, such as trouble sleeping and concentrating.
The great thing about the benefits of exercise is that they don’t only show after an intense session in the gym or a high-intensity sports match. Instead, you can experience the mood-boosting effects of physical activity simply by going for a walk in the park or doing chores in the garden.
Most people need around 30 minutes of exercise per day, at least five days a week. So, consider making physical activity a part of your daily routine.
Eat a Balanced Diet
There is a clear link between physical and mental well-being. This is part of the reason that staying active is so important for your emotional health. By the same token, ensuring that you consume the right foods is also vital for looking after your mental health.
Some foods clearly immediately influence our mood. For example, caffeine or sugar can instantly change the way we feel. It is important to consider the impact of foods high in these, as they can contribute to diminished energy levels throughout the day or anxiety in some circumstances.
However, there is also a more long-term relationship between food and mental health. Our brains need the right balance of nutrients to stay healthy and function properly. As such, a diet that is good for your physical health is also good for your mental well-being.
Therefore, you should try to include various fruits and vegetables in your diet alongside whole grains, nuts and seeds, oily fish and plenty of water. Additionally, try to limit your intake of sugary drinks and caffeinated beverages.
There is a lot to be said about striking a balance between technology and the real world when you’re trying to prioritise your mental health. However, thanks to the various platforms and tools available nowadays, it is easier than ever to reach out to friends and family if you’re struggling.
One of the best ways to improve your mental well-being is to communicate with loved ones. The stigma surrounding mental health is less prevalent than ever before, and you do not need to suffer in silence. So, communication is essential for your mental well-being, whether you choose to reach out to a loved one using a social media platform like Facebook or Whatsapp or simply pick up the phone and have a chat.
There is often a financial barrier that can prevent individuals from reaching out to someone to talk to. This is why companies like Lebara offer a range of SIM-only plans at an affordable price. This allows people to avoid feeling isolated, regardless of their situation.
Overall, talking about your feelings with someone you trust is often one of the most effective ways of promoting your mental well-being. However, it is important to not only rely on digital communication as a means of connecting with others. While these are great ways of reaching out, regular face-to-face contact can often help improve mental well-being more.
Drink in Moderation
Many people fall into the trap of using alcohol as a way to alter their mood when they are feeling low. Some drink to avoid feelings of loneliness, anxiety or depression. However, it is important to remember that this mood change is only temporary. In fact, after drinking, negative emotions are often more prevalent, which can lead to a general deterioration in mental well-being.
Overall, drinking is a terrible way of dealing with challenging emotions. Not only does alcohol physically harm your body, but using it as a means of self-medicating often leads to spiralling behaviour. The more you drink, the more you need to drink to achieve the same short-term boost. As such, it can quickly become a problematic habit. On the whole, there are much better ways of managing your mental well-being than drinking.
For most people, there is no problem with light drinking in a sociable manner. You should try to stick within the recommended limits for alcohol consumption. For men and women, this means consuming under 14 units per week.
Similarly to alcohol consumption, many people attempt to change their mood using drugs or by smoking. Again, these effects are short-lived and often lead to more complex issues down the line. As such, you should avoid using substances to influence your mood if you’re going through a rough patch.
Take a Break
Taking some time away from the relentless pace of your life can often do wonders for your mental health. A change of scenery or simply taking a step back from the pressures of day-to-day existence can help to improve your overall well-being and decreases the likelihood of burning out.
The scale of the break you choose to take depends on your particular needs. If you are just feeling stressed out about a problem at work, it might be enough to just take 5 minutes to do something else to clear your head. However, sometimes, a weekend away or a trip is necessary for an emotional reset.
On the whole, taking a break for your mental health is a deeply personal matter. For some people, taking some time away from commitments might involve a lot of physical activity, whereas it might mean doing very little for others. There is no right or wrong way of taking a break, as long as it relaxes you.
Listen to your body – if you feel exhausted, give yourself time to sleep. Sometimes, this is the break your body is craving and can make a tangible difference to your mental well-being.
Ultimately, sometimes you need to take a step back to preserve your health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and close to burnout, your commitments can wait. Take the time to look after yourself, and you can reduce the chances of exacerbating your mental state.
In summary, you must take steps to look after your mental well-being if you want to stay as healthy as possible. Sometimes, prioritising your mental health is as simple as taking five minutes away from a problem. Other times, it might require long-term habitual changes. Regardless of what it takes, you should prioritise this aspect of your well-being if you want to be happy and healthy.
WRITTEN BYDaria Brown