Rebecca Donoghue, Hypnotherapist
Did you know that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from mental illness at some point in the year? Some of us may experience more common conditions such as depression, stress or anxiety, whilst others suffer from rarer disorders such as bipolar.
Just like our physical health, we all have the responsibility of looking after our own mental well-being, as well as the mental health of those we care for.
October 10th marks World Mental Health Day – a day dedicated towards raising awareness of mental health issues and fighting the stigma that is still at times associated with them.
Here are some things anyone can try to look after their mental health:
Take a break and relax
A warm relaxing soak in the bath, a stroll in the country, creating a work of art, guided meditation…. however you prefer to do it, take some time out for you. We all have different things we find relaxing and in our busy lives, relaxation is often the one thing that gets overlooked.
The benefits of exercise on your physical health and fitness are well known, but regular exercise is also very important for your mental health. When we exercise our bodies release endorphins – the chemical that helps us to feel good. Exercise can also help to improve sleep patterns and feelings of anger.
Sleep is vital for fostering a healthy body and clear mind. It rejuvenates us, keeps our memories working well and helps our bodies to heal. See my previous blog on tips for getting a good night’s sleep.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
Having a balanced diet and eating foods that sustain your blood sugar levels, can help with energy levels, weight control and self-esteem. Cut out junk food and refined sugars.
Too much alcohol disturbs sleep and affects the balance of chemicals in your brain. You might feel more relaxed after your first drink, but as you consume more alcohol, the brain can be affected in a very different way. Those positive emotions you might first experience can be replaced with feelings of depression, anxiety or anger.
Stay connected to others
Being social and staying connected to people around you (actually face to face not via social media) can greatly support your mental well-being. Sometimes just a chat to ‘get things off your chest’ can help you to get through difficult periods in your life.
Worrying about what might happen or mulling over past problems can greatly affect your levels of anxiety. Learning to focus your attention on the present moment, or mindfulness, can be hugely beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Care for others
Looking beyond yourself and helping others, by doing a charitable or good deed, doesn’t just help someone else in some way, it also promotes that ‘feel good factor’ within you.
Always find some time in your day to focus on what you are grateful for, instead of what is going wrong. Recent research has revealed that feeling gratitude can improve both physical and psychological health.
Update your self-talk
It’s easy to get stuck in a loop of negative and destructive thoughts that only serve to compound feelings of stress, anxiety or depression. Recognising the negative inner-voice in your head and learning to change those thought patterns can take perseverance but is extremely worth-while. Challenge your negative thoughts, accept yourself and your qualities and focus on what you can do.