How to boost your mental and emotional wellbeing
Sunday 10th October is World Mental Health Day, a global event which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues, of the need for better access to support services, particularly for those who are more vulnerable, and of how we can promote better mental health within our communities and societies.
Good mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders – according to the World Health Organisation, it is ‘a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.’
There are lots of things that we can each do to protect and boost our own mental and emotional wellbeing – we’ve shared some of our top tips below:
Spending just 20-30 minutes a day in nature is proven to reduce stress levels – exposure to natural light can help to boost our mood, while focusing on the pleasant sights and sounds of the natural world distracts us from negative thoughts and worries, helping us to feel calmer.
Exercise is just as important for our mental fitness as it is for our physical health. As well as releasing feel-good hormones, doing physical activity, particularly one that involves picking up a new skill, forces us to concentrate on something other than what’s bothering us, and can also help to improve our self-esteem. Exercising in nature is even better!
Having a good support network is really important for our wellbeing. Try to schedule in time to regularly catch up with your friends or family, even if it’s just over the phone. Talking to people who care about us about how we’re feeling and sharing our problems can help us to feel less isolated and they may be able to give you a fresh perspective or even help you to find solutions
Watch what you’re drinking
Alcohol and caffeine both affect our brain chemistry and can heighten feelings of anxiety and stress. They can also reduce our quality of sleep, which in turn can negatively impact on our emotional wellbeing. While many of us drink alcohol to help us relax, once the initial effects wear off, it actually works to lower our mood, making us feel worse. Try to reduce your alcohol consumption (sticking to the recommended limits) and cut down on the amount of tea, coffee and caffeinated beverages you drink.
Challenge unhelpful thoughts
When we feel depressed or anxious, it can be easy to fall into unhelpful patterns of thinking, dwelling on negative thoughts, catastrophising and criticising ourselves overly harshly. Learning to spot when you are having these types of thoughts and writing them down can help you to deal with them more objectively. Don’t be too hard on yourself – think about what you’d say to a friend who was feeling the same way and try to come up with three positive thoughts for every negative one. Over time, this will become a habit and help you to develop a more positive mindset.
Seek support if you need to
Not all of these tips will work for everyone all of the time and we will all experience periods when we feel more stressed, down or anxious than normal. However, if your feelings of anxiety or low mood persist, or they are starting to have a real impact on your day-to-day life, it’s important to seek appropriate support whether that’s via your GP, a mental health charity or your employer’s EAP (Employee Assistance Programme), if they have one.
To learn more about World Mental Health Day, visit World Mental Health Day (who.int)
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