For some, just putting one foot in front of the other every single day can be difficult – particularly during the bleak months of the year – that’s why experts have shared their top tips for looking after mental health
CREDIT: This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Huffington Post
Most of our lives are full of ups and downs. Knowing how to deal with our down moments, and how to help those around us deal with them too, is important in creating a kinder and happier society. “By understanding how to look after our own mental health, we are in a better position to look out for others’ mental health too,” Mark Rowland, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation points out.
So, here are seven ways to help you look after your mental health – and also pass on and share with others who may be struggling.
“Seeking to understand, and accepting that it’s okay for others to have different views, is an important first step in managing mental health problems,” Mark says. “Everyone has the right to, respectfully, express what they think and feel, and to be respected in return. Sometimes it’s better to resist the urge to immediately respond in a state of agitation – wait a couple of hours to see whether you still think it is worth responding to.”
Spring clean your apps
Turning off app notifications is a practical way of limiting the demands they place on our attention, according to Mark. “News is now available 24 hours a day, and so much exposure to uncertainty can be stressful. Though it’s important to stay informed, be aware of how it is making you feel, and limit yourself to how many times you check your ‘phone.”
Try analysing the people or accounts you are following on social media – are they causing you stress or negativity? Muting those accounts can help manage those stresses.
Keeping in touch with people is really important; if you can’t catch up face-to-face, why not give them a call, text them or chat online? “If you are part of a community or club, or if you are religious or spiritual, these networks can give you a way of staying connected to something bigger, and provide consolation in times of difficulty,” says Mark.
Look out for others
It’s also important to keep an eye out for friends and family members who may be struggling. “Unpredictability and volatility are becoming the new normal. Now, as much as at any time, we need to find ways of supporting each other and building our collective resilience,” Mark advises.
“Looking after someone else is good for your mental health as well.”
Make time for something you enjoy
Find something that brings you joy, and make time for it – whether that’s reading, yoga or pottery. There are lots of great on-line classes you can access for free. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something boosts your self-esteem. All in all, it’s a good thing.
Many of the things that support good physical health support good mental health too. Often the simplest things we can do – like exercise, or spending time in nature – can give our mental health a big boost.
Don’t be afraid to get help
It is better to act early if you feel rising levels of stress. There are a range of online resources and apps available, plus effective psychological therapies through the NHS.