At a time where many of us are struggling with post-pandemic restrictions, dealing with skyrocketing cost-of-living expenses and seeing horror stories in the news, mental health has never been so important. Mental health should be taken as seriously as our physical health – the same amount of time should be spent retraining our thought processes as we do at the gym or following a healthy eating pattern.
Of course, serious mental health issues should be dealt with by a professional. But there are lots of simple things that you can do each day to improve your mental health.
Here are some simple tips for improving your mental health each day
Switch off your social media
While social media can be fun, it is also a place where we can be subjected to consistently negative things – awful news stories and pictures, arguments, unrealistic expectations of how we should look, or how we should live – and it is very easy to get lost in a rabbit hole of negativity that will eventually start to have a profound impact on your mental health. Turn off your social media, even if it is just for a few hours and go and do something that you enjoy – go for a walk, listen to music, write, read, take a long bath.
Take the time to be in the present
Have you ever watched footage of a concert on YouTube that someone has filmed on their cell? It has never made sense to me – why pay to see a musician perform if you’re going to watch the whole thing on a small screen? Being present is taking the time to consciously be in a moment and awareness of everything that you are experiencing. Eating dinner with the family? Turn the tv off, put the tech away and have a conversation. Going for a walk? Take in the sights, sounds and smells on your journey. Really listen during your conversations with other people.
Reduce your task list
I’m a huge lover of lists, but the danger of creating an enormous list at the start of a day means that you won’t be able to complete everything and will feel like you have failed. Reducing your “To Do list” to a sensible, manageable number will not only help you feel a sense of achievement at the end of each day, but will help you prioritize what is important.
Try and be more organized
Simple things like prepping lunches, packing bags and sorting out clothing the night before will allow a much less stressful start to the day. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day to review what needs to be done and get the small tasks that will save you time throughout the day done first.
Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations – repeatedly telling yourself positive statements – are a great way of retraining our brains to be more kind, replacing negative thoughts about ourselves with ideas that lift us up and make us feel good. Find a positive affirmation that works for you, this can be anything like “It is my choice to decide how I feel,” or “I choose to be happy” and tell yourself the same thing every morning until you start to believe it.
Start a gratitude journal
Whether you use a digital or paper journal, take some time at the end of each day to acknowledge what has been positive about the day, what has made you happy and what you are grateful for. It may be hard in the beginning but you will be surprised how much easier it gets. Plus, you may end up purposefully doing things or looking for things during the day to write in your journal, things you would have normally over-looked.
Go for a 30-minute walk, taking deep breaths as you go. If you are stuck inside, open a window to let the fresh air in. I personally love to put bare feet on cool, wet grass or warm sand to make me feel grounded and connected to the earth. It is amazing how some problems feel more manageable when you give yourself proper space to breathe and relax.
Get a good night’s sleep
There is nothing worse than trying to get through the day after a restless night while feeling like your head is cloudy. Not getting enough sleep doesn’t just affect us physically, it can have a detrimental impact on our ability to concentrate, motivation and mood. Create a wind down routine every evening, try going to bed thirty minutes earlier than usual and make sure that you turn off all your technology before going to sleep.
Avoid the big picture
Sometimes looking at the end-goal or big picture of something is really useful. On other occasions, it can become quite overwhelming and cause you to spiral. When feeling like everything is a little bit too much, break down what you need to do into small, manageable chunks and work through them, one thing at a time. Congratulate yourself when you have achieved every individual step.
Be around people that lift you up
Spending time in the company of positive people is likely to have a positive impact on you too! You may not be able to eliminate negative nellies from your life, but you can learn to limit time with them and their impact on you by ensuring you spend time with people that make you feel good too.
Why not give some of these a try? Start being a little bit more kind to yourself and make a conscious effort to improve your mental health. And if you need more help or can’t do it on your own, please reach out to a professional for guidance.