It’s the start of a brand new year, and whilst bold new year’s resolutions are seemingly all the rage, maybe it’s time to start small: by simply deciding that this is the year you will prioritise your mental health.
If you want to feel happier, have a better outlook, be healthier, and practice more compassion for yourself, we’ve got some tips that will come in handy!
So, let’s take a look at 12 ways you can improve your mental health, starting today.
1. Exercise regularly
Exercise has been shown to have a number of benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, and increasing self-esteem.
Additionally, exercise has been shown to have a number of cognitive benefits, including improving memory and learning.
Plus, it can be a great way to socialise and connect with others, which can also have a positive impact on mental health.
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is important for mental health because it allows the body and mind to rest and repair.
While we sleep, our bodies are able to restore and repair tissues, flush out toxins, and regulate hormone levels. In addition, sleep is important for brain function, as it allows the brain to process and consolidate memories, as well as clear out waste products that can build up during the day.
Without sufficient sleep, these processes can be disrupted, which can affect mood, cognitive function, and overall mental health. Additionally, sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
3. Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a healthy and balanced diet can help mental health in a number of ways. A diet that is rich in nutrients can help to support brain function, which is important for cognitive processes such as memory and learning.
Additionally, a healthy diet can help to regulate mood and energy levels, which can be affected by the types of food that we eat.
For example, a diet that is high in sugar and unhealthy fats can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can affect mood and energy. In contrast, a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and other nutrients can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and support overall health and wellbeing.
4. Take breaks from screens and social media
Taking adequate time away from screens and social media can do wonders for your mental health.
Social media can sometimes contribute to feelings of comparison, which can lead to low self-esteem and negative self-image.
When it comes to using screens, they can be a source of distraction, which can make it difficult to focus and be present. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, as people may feel like they are constantly trying to keep up with the demands of their devices.
Additionally, using screens (especially at night) can disrupt sleep, as the blue light that is emitted by screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
5. Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness is a mental state that involves paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way.
By practising mindful activities, in the short term, you can improve your mood by cultivating a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the present moment.
In the long term, mindfulness can help you reduce stress and anxiety by becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings and learning how to respond to them in a more balanced way.
6. Take up a hobby
Taking up a hobby can be a great way to improve mental health. Hobbies can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can boost self-esteem and confidence.
It can also be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, as it can provide a sense of relaxation and a break from daily responsibilities.
Plus, hobbies can be a great way to connect with others who have similar interests, which can improve overall wellbeing.
7. Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with loved ones can be very beneficial for mental health. Being in the company of people who care about you and support you can provide a sense of connection and belonging, which can be very important for overall wellbeing.
It also provides a sense of security and comfort, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Through connection with loved ones, you can also build and strengthen meaningful relationships, which can be a source of support, fulfilment, and joy in your life.
8. Get outside in nature
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress and improve mood. One reason for this is that nature provides a sense of beauty and tranquillity, which can be very calming and restorative.
Additionally, being in nature can provide a sense of connection to the natural world, which can be very enriching and fulfilling.
9. Practice gratitude
Practising gratitude can be very beneficial for mental health. Being grateful means acknowledging and appreciating the good things in life. It can help to shift focus from negative thoughts and experiences to positive ones, which can improve mood and overall wellbeing.
Additionally, practising gratitude can help to cultivate a sense of perspective and to recognize that even in difficult situations, there are still things to be thankful for. This can be very empowering and can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
10. Set boundaries
Setting boundaries is important for maintaining good mental health because it helps you take control of your life and manage your time and energy effectively.
When you set boundaries, you are able to say "no" to the things that do not align with your values or that are not a priority for you. This can help reduce stress and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or burnt out.
Setting boundaries can also help you establish a sense of self-respect and self-worth, which can improve your overall wellbeing.
11. Seek professional help
One of the primary benefits of seeking professional support, such as doing therapy, is that it provides a safe and supportive space for you to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
This can be especially helpful if you are struggling to cope with difficult emotions or situations, or if you feel like you don't have anyone to talk to about your problems.
Working with a trained mental health professional can help you identify and address the underlying causes of your emotional or mental health struggles. This can involve exploring your past experiences, examining your patterns of thought and behaviour, and learning new coping skills and strategies.
Therapy can also help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your needs, and can provide you with the tools and insights to make positive changes in your life.
12. Practice good self-care
Self-care is important for maintaining good mental health because it helps you take care of your physical, emotional, and psychological needs. When you practice self-care, you are better able to manage stress, cope with challenges, and maintain a sense of balance and wellbeing.
There are many different forms of self-care, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some examples of self-care activities include:
- Exercise and physical activity
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating a healthy diet
- Taking breaks and scheduling leisure time
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing
- Engaging in hobbies and activities that you enjoy
- Seeking social support from friends and loved ones
By regularly engaging in self-care activities, you can help improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and increase your overall sense of wellbeing.