In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, taking care of our mental wellbeing often gets sidelined. Yet, our mental health is the very foundation upon which our overall quality of life rests. Just as we nurture our physical health with exercise and nutritious foods, it's equally important to invest time and effort into our mental and emotional wellness.
We will explore how a few intentional changes can lead to a positive impact on your mental wellbeing, ultimately allowing you to lead a life that's not just filled with moments, but with a genuine sense of contentment and joy.
Dare to be great by taking a step towards a happier, more resilient you.
1. Get regular health check ups
Having a full overview of what’s happening inside your body can bring you peace of mind, while also being beneficial to your long term health.
This can look like visiting the dentist or GP regularly, but also keeping an eye on any changes in your body – such as how your body reacts to certain foods, or any new unusual bumps & blemishes over time.
If you are between the ages of 40 and 74, good news – you are entitled to a free NHS Health Check Up every 5 years. During your Check Up, you will be assessed to determine whether you are at a higher risk of getting certain health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke. Click here for more information.
Regularly checking in with your health can prevent a small problem from becoming a larger one. Remember, prevention within our control is better than the cure.
2. Get Active
As mental health awareness has grown over the years, as has the link between wellness and physical health. A few benefits of keeping active include...
➡️ Neurochemical Balance: Regular physical activity triggers the release of neurotransmitters like endorphins, or "happy hormones". These chemicals play a vital role in regulating mood, reducing stress, and promoting an overall sense of wellbeing.
➡️ Stress Reduction: When you engage in physical movement, your body releases tension, lowers cortisol levels (a stress hormone), and allows your mind to relax.
➡️ Enhanced Cognitive Function: Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, providing it with essential nutrients and oxygen. This improved circulation supports cognitive functions like memory, concentration, and problem-solving.
➡️ Sleep Quality: Quality sleep is crucial for mental health, as it allows the brain to process emotions & memories, and regulate mood. Poor sleep is associated with increased risk of mood disorders and decreased overall mental wellbeing.
➡️ Confidence and Self-Esteem: Seeing improvements in our fitness levels can boost self-esteem - resulting in a positive influence in how we perceive ourselves.
➡️ Social Interaction: Many physical activities, such as group classes or team sports, can offer the chance to build new connections.
You don't need the flashiest gear or an expensive all-inclusive gym membership to get started. Starting with simple stretches, neighbourhood walks,
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3. Slow Down with Meditation
"This year has gone so quicky!"
"Is it really September already?"
We have all had these thoughts. The time flies by and it feels as though we haven't had the chance to stop and breathe.
Many of us have heard of meditation, but did you know that over time daily practices can...
🌿 Enhance mood
🌿 Reduce stress and anxiety
🌿 Promote healthy sleep patterns
It can be difficult to know where to start, especially when our mind is full of worries and to do lists. We may believe that we aren't meditating correctly if our mind is busy, but it is a skill - with time and effort, your mind will clear and it will become easier to stay present.
YouTube can be a great free resource - beginners may benefit from a guided meditation, or by playing relaxing music or sounds of nature. Alternatively, finding time in your day to sit still for 5 minutes while focusing on your breathing is an easy way to get started.
4. Connect With Others
Humans are wired to be social creatures. We've evolved over centuries to thrive in communities, where we bond, share, and empathize. So, when you're feeling a bit down, having someone you can talk to can be like a pressure valve for your mind. It's like your thoughts get a chance to breathe when you talk it out with a friend, family member, or even a pet.
So while there is nothing wrong with spending our free time binging the latest Netflix series, why not try something else this weekend...
👋 Check in with your friends & family via text or phone call to catch up
👋 Arrange a coffee date with an old friend
👋 Participate in a group activity - fitness classes, book clubs, trivia nights... if you have an interest in something, there will always be a community for you! Check out MeetUp to find a group near you.
👋 Volunteering can be a rewarding way to connect with others, while gaining new skills and experiences. Do IT allows you to search for volunteering roles online, or you can check with your local council, library, or charities for opportunities.
5. Pay Attention To The Social Media You Consume
Be intentional with what you consume.
The films, TV shows, games, news, and social media we consume can affect our overall mood and mental wellbeing - mostly positively, but often negatively too.
Social media can be filled with rage-baiting content, fake news, and negative behaviour. It can also be a source of stress - subconsciously comparing ourselves and putting ourselves down for not living up to someone else's highlights reel.
Remember, social media is INTENTIONALLY addictive - there corporations will adjust their algorithms to keep you using their apps as much as possible... it's not a reflection of you! Some helpful ways of reducing your social media usage include...
📱 Setting time limits on your social media usage - on iPhones you can find this in Screen Time settings, or the Digital Wellbeing settings on Android
📱 Download a screen time app through Apple's App store or Android's Google Play
📱 Unfollow any person or brand that does not bring you value or joy
📱 Find something else to fill your time with fun - finding a hobby where you create something with your hands removes tech from the equation completely. Plus it is rewarding to see the results of your creations!
6. Seek Help When You Need It
We can eat healthily, exercising daily, and have fulfilling social lives, but there are times when we still feel something is not quite right.
Being weighed down by stress, anxiety, low mood, and negative thoughts is more common than we realise. According to mental health charity Mind, 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. The overall number of people reporting mental health problems has increased over the years - up 20% between 1994 and 2014.
Although things look bleak, there is a silver lining - mental health is no longer a taboo subject.
It is now a common topic of conversation amongst friends and colleagues alike, with an increasing number of people talking about their experiences and struggles at home and in the workplace.
The normalisation of mental health issues also means there is more help available, such as talking therapies and medication.
If you feel you need an extra boost of support, Mind has a fantastic resource on seeking NHS & private talking therapies. Click here to visit Mind's guide to finding therapy or counselling.