It’s always good to take the time to reflect on how you’re feeling, but January is an extremely popular month to do so. For many, it’s like a clean slate. Being aware of your mental wellbeing is key to living a happy, healthy and positive life. If you’re finding that your mental wellbeing is dipping somewhat, there are many things you can do to help improve it again. You can try exercise, arts and crafts, starting a journal, there’s so much to choose from.
We’ve got all of our top tips for improving your mental wellbeing in one place. Let’s get started!
What is Good Mental Health?
There are four points that experts consider to be fundamental when characterising good mental health:
– The ability to learn.
– Being able to feel, express and manage a range of emotions.
– Being able to form and maintain good relationships with others.
– The ability to cope with and manage change.
Reflect on these points now and then, and jot down how you think you’re responding to them on a daily basis. It’s important to remember that mental health is a complex thing. Everyone has different experiences. You may find that upon reflecting on the points above, you respond positively to all of them but you still don’t feel right in yourself. You’re lacking motivation, your usual hobbies don’t bring you the joy they used to, or you’re just stuck in a rut doing the same thing day-in-day-out. That’s when you should start incorporating wellness into your life. Improving your wellbeing will help you feel more positive in yourself and your attitude towards obstacles.
How to Maintain Good Mental Health and Wellbeing
There are a number of steps that can be taken to improve mental health and wellbeing. It’s a good idea to consider the options and write down which ones appeal to you the most. We would also advise that you don’t start implementing too many wellness activities at once. You don’t want to start lots of new things and find them difficult to keep on top of. This could actually negatively affect your mental health, if you find yourself not being able to complete all of these wellness activities. If you’re just starting your wellness journey, pick a maximum of 3 activities to try out. The key is maintaining these new healthy habits!
1. Get Moving
It’s widely known that exercise has a positive effect on your mental wellbeing. When you exercise, it causes chemical changes in your brain that can positively affect mood. Being active improves your self-esteem because you get a feeling of accomplishment once you have completed your exercise. It can help you set goals or challenges, giving yourself something to work towards.
This doesn’t have to be intense exercise either, gentle exercise works just as well. Adding something as simple as a 20 minute walk to your day will massively improve your mental wellbeing. There are also plenty of free exercise videos and podcasts available online if you want to follow along at home with your own equipment. Taking part in an exercise class is an additional option to consider if you want to be more sociable while you’re getting fit.
The main thing is getting your body moving in whatever way you prefer!
2. Get Creative
Art and craft is another popular choice when it comes to incorporating wellness into your life. When you create something, regardless of what it is, it promotes feelings of joy. It will improve confidence and self-esteem. Not only that, it allows you to express yourself. Many people find this to be the most helpful aspect of art and craft. It can often be difficult to communicate your thoughts and feelings into words, that’s when something like painting, drawing or colouring is really useful.
One of the most important parts of mindfulness is being in the present moment. Forgetting about things that have happened or things that may happen, and focusing on the now. Whether you’re taking part in an art class or just colouring in at home, it will help you ease stress and feel a lot more at peace.
Colouring is a great way to get children involved in practicing mindfulness too. The earlier you start learning about mindfulness, the easier it will be to practice it in everyday life. Have a look at our blog post about the benefits of colouring for adults and children. It’ll give you a great insight into a fun activity you can do with the whole family.
3. Get Connected
Socialising with friends and family is hugely beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Sometimes you may feel like you just want to tuck yourself away in your house and not see anyone, but even a quick video call with a friend can help boost your mood.
Spending time with others will help you build a sense of belonging and self-worth. Being a part of a community, whether it’s at work, university or your family, gives you emotional support when you’re feeling low and allows you to support others. It also gives you the opportunity to share positive experiences that you’ve had. Telling someone about your personal or professional achievements will lift your spirits and be a lovely experience that nurtures your relationship.
You could even start volunteering if you want to make new friends. Volunteering is a brilliant way to meet new people and help your community. Taking part in sociable and meaningful work will make you feel fulfilled and positively affect your mental wellbeing.
4. Get Outside
Heading outdoors and spending time in nature is a simple way to improve your mental wellbeing. Studies have shown that being out in nature for 20 minutes a day can positively affect your mental health. If you can get outdoors for longer than that, even better!
When you’re outdoors you could go for a walk around your local park, go for a run or ride a bike. Make the most of being outside and get a little exercise too. You don’t have to do this of course. Simply being outdoors is a great benefit to your mental wellbeing. Make sure you take time to enjoy the moment. If you can, avoid taking headphones and listen to the sounds around you. You may find that you hear more and more each time you go out. It’s lovely heading outdoors and listening to birdsong, you’ll find yourself becoming increasingly more relaxed over time.
5. Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill is a lot of fun, and it benefits your mental wellbeing. This goes for any skill, whether it’s learning a new recipe, a new craft, a sport, or language. It’s great to pick up a new hobby as a beginner because you have all the fun of finding out about new techniques and overcoming new challenges.
Learning something new helps increase your confidence and self-esteem. Successfully completing a new project can help build a sense of purpose. It will also teach patience, you’re not going to be perfect at this new hobby straightaway. Take the time to enjoy the lessons and feel the sense of accomplishment when you finish it.
There are many classes available that you can attend with others to try out this new skill, which is a great way to connect with people. If that’s not for you, there are always plenty of free online video tutorials that you can follow along with at home.
6. Start a Journal
Perfect for those who find themselves unorganised, or that their head is full of too many thoughts, or both! Journals can be used in a variety of ways, but the two most popular are using it as a way of organising your life and using it to reflect.
Bullet journals are great at helping people get organised. You can set aside pages for to-do lists, weekly or daily planning. Many bullet journal users create a key so they know when they have new tasks, ongoing tasks and completed tasks, either at work or in their personal life. Starting a bullet journal when you have never created one before can be a little overwhelming. We’ve made it easy for you though in this blog post. Keeping yourself organised will help take away a layer of stress and certainly improve your mental health.
Gratitude journals are also popular. These are great for people who feel like their thoughts are whizzing around their head at one thousand miles per hour. They are also good if you feel that you mostly focus on the negative things that happen in your day. Having a gratitude journal will allow you to reflect on your day and unload your thoughts. Seeing your worries written down can often help you overcome them, or make you realise that they aren’t as big as you initially thought. It can also help you see that you do have many positive things in your life. Writing down your achievements and positives will make them feel more real. We can help you get started on your gratitude journal in this blog post. Focusing on the positives will, overtime, greatly improve your mental wellbeing.
7. Prioritise Your Sleep
We live in a world where sleeping is sometimes seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. “I must get this report finished by tonight”, “I’ll just reply to these emails” and “I’ll just go over this presentation one more time” might be thoughts you have often. However, not getting enough sleep is not going to do you any good.
Sleep and mental health have a very close relationship. This is a cycle you may get stuck in if you don’t prioritise your sleep:
Feelings of worry or stress > Lack of sleep > Tiredness > Difficulty coping > Low self esteem > Feelings of worry or stress…
The cycle can be hard to break, but you must try. Staying up late to finish a presentation isn’t going to be worth it if you’re too tired to concentrate and present it the following day. There are a lot of negative emotions that often come with lack of sleep too:
– Feelings of anxiety or depression
– Feeling lonely or isolated because you’re unable to keep up with others
– Struggling to concentrate
– Feeling irritable
These are just a handful of things that you could be feeling if you don’t get enough sleep. This can be helped though, there are many things that can be done to help improve your sleep and in return, help your mental wellbeing.
One of the easiest things you can do is create a routine. Decide on a time that you will go to bed every night, no exceptions. Make sure it’s a time that will allow you to get your full 8 hours of sleep before you wake up in the morning. This doesn’t have to be a complex routine involving chamomile tea, hot bubble baths and a yoga routine, although it can be if you want. Something as simple as switching your phone off at a certain time and reading a book before you head to bed will massively help. It tells your brain that it needs to wind down and prepare for sleep. Over time, this should allow you to fall asleep easier and stop you lying awake each night wondering about the next day.
Creating a relaxing space is also beneficial. Optimising your bedroom to help you sleep doesn’t have to be complex. You could put a ban on screens being allowed in the bedroom past a certain time. It’s widely known that too much screen time before bed can disrupt sleep. Many people rely on their phones for morning alarms these days, but you can invest in a reliable alarm clock instead. Keeping your phone out of the bedroom is an easy way to help improve sleep.
Why not light some candles in your bedroom before you go to sleep? Filling the room with your favourite relaxing fragrance will help you drift off a lot quicker. It also gives your brain something to focus on, other than the worries you may have about a work meeting the next day.
Finally, make sure that you have a comfortable bed to sleep on. The other elements you add to your room will only work well if you’re sleeping comfortably. Regardless of whether you prefer soft mattresses or hard ones, you need to look forward to jumping into bed each night so you feel well rested in the morning.
Make sure you don’t neglect your sleep, it has more of an impact on your mental wellbeing than you might think!
Maintaining good mental health is a process and you won’t see results overnight. It’s important that when choosing how to improve your mental wellbeing, you choose one achievable goal or activity and stick to it. Don’t feel discouraged if you’re practicing wellness and still feeling low, anxious or stressed from time to time. That’s completely normal and to be expected- you’re human!
If you would like to learn more about mental health, either for yourself or a loved one, have a look at these charities:
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