How to take care of your mental health

Taking care of yourself

The past couple of years has been tough on everyone, especially during the pandemic. Taking good care of yourself not only helps you to navigate tough times but also means you can move forward and create opportunities when you feel ready to. Given the challenges we all face this winter, it’s never been more important to take care of your mental health. Here’s how.

What is mental health?

It’s a combination of internal and external factors that have an influence on you and your health and well-being. That includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. Positive mental health is defined by the World Health Organisation as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community.”  The wide spectrum can include everything from mental health disorders to generalised anxiety. Whether or not you have a diagnosed condition, problems with mental health can make life feel very hard.

How can you take care of your mental health?

  • Ask for help if you need it – You can talk to a friend or partner or an organisation like the Samaritans but do reach out if you feel you’re struggling.
  • Take care of yourself physically – The body and mind influence each other – they are not separate. So, the healthier you are physically, the more chance you have of being positive. Regular exercise can help boost serotonin levels, and being active improves the chances of positive mental health. Giving up smoking and drinking too much can also make a big difference in how you feel.
  • Don’t forget the gut-brain connection – It’s estimated that we make around 90% of our serotonin in the gut, so if you want to feel better mentally, ensure you’re focused on positive gut health.
  • Get into healthy sleep habits – A good night’s rest can make all the difference to your mental health – and if you’re not sleeping, it can leave you feeling exhausted and depressed. One simple way to change how you sleep is to introduce a new sleep routine. Put your phone away several hours before bed, do some calming breathwork or journal out your thoughts from the day so that your mind feels clearer. Try a hot bath and a hot drink to help you sleep.
  • Experiment with mindfulness and meditation – It’s difficult if we feel overwhelmed by emotions and out of control. Meditation is a great tool for gaining some distance from your emotions and learning to regulate them so you can feel calmer and better.
  • Swap self-judgment for self-compassion – A critical inner voice can make everything worse. Learning how to be compassionate to yourself will give you a chance to recover from your problems and can activate your soothing and nurturance system, bringing you out of a fight or flight anxiety response.

Positive mental health is vital today – and these are some of the ways you can help to nurture yours.

If you are struggling with mental health – it’s important to talk to someone. You can find an urgent mental health helpline (UK) by clicking here.