May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and so we can think of no better way to help raise awareness and destigmatize issues surrounding mental health than by providing a list of our favorite tips to improve your mental health. You wouldn’t walk on your leg while it was broken, and taking care of your mental health is no different, so without further ado, let's kick things off with tip number one.
Tip Number One: Get Outside
There have been many studies conducted that show that spending a decent portion of time outside in nature can considerably improve one’s mental health and overall wellbeing. Boosted serotonin levels and increased focus can also be results of spending some time outside, but mostly spending time outside can break up the usual monotony of our daily routines, and help us think about something other than work or daily stresses.
Tip Number Two: Practise Mental Health Exercises
There are several little practices we can put into our daily routines that can help relax us and improve our mental health. Many find such things as meditation, journaling, stretching or listening to music to all be stress reducing in their own ways, and luckily most of these things can be shortened down to a five-minute practice if you are really pressed for time. Five minutes of stretching or meditation might not seem like much, but they prove to pack a punch in delivering large amounts of relief in only a short amount of time.
Tip Number Three: Pick up a New Hobby
Focusing your attention and getting completely lost in a new hobby or activity is a positive stimulant that is both uplifting and engaging. Doing something new, and something just for you can end up becoming something to look forward to, and the satisfaction gained from learning a new skill can give you an immense boost.
Tip Number Four: Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
Mental health is still unfortunately something with a lot of stigma surrounding it, so much so that often people do not seek help for it. Mental health does not have to be something you face alone, and so whether it is calling up a friend to have a talk, or seeking out a professional, asking for help, if you feel you need it, should always be an option.
Tip Number Five: Have Something to Look Forward To
Having little things to look forward to is part of what makes life meaningful. We are by no means talking about big things either like holidays or birthdays, more small things that you could do every day or a few times a week. Things like painting, cooking your favourite meal, gardening, or going to the movies can all bring you a ‘pocket of peace’ in the moment, and also the exhilaration of anticipation on a regular basis.
Tip Number Six: Focus on Your Friends
Often mental health issues can make us feel alone, and not in a very social mood, but making the effort to reach out and connect with your loved ones can help to remind you that you are not alone, and that you have people in your life who care about you.
Tip Number Seven: Limit Media and Technology Use
It is no secret that things like social media and the news can be major stressors in our day to day lives. Obviously these things can be difficult to cut out completely, but reducing the amount of time we are exposed to them, can be greatly beneficial. Little things like not using your phone half an hour before bed, or keeping the tv off during meal times can help give you that extra bit of breathing space, and be more present.
Tip Number Eight: Stay Active
Obviously we do not need to outline the benefits of exercising for you. Keeping that body and mind connection strong through physical activity is very important for your mental health, so even committing to going on one walk a day, or even three walks a week, while blasting your favourite tunes or a podcast, can help shake off that sedentary, sluggish feeling many of us face.
Tip Number Nine: Catch your Z’s
Sleep is so important to our overall health, let alone our mental health, and yet it is something many of us seem to abuse or ignore. Not getting enough sleep can exacerbate issues like anxiety and depression, and so getting the recommended daily amount of sleep for your age group is highly important. This makes tip number seven all the more important too, as staying on your phone right until you go to sleep can act as a stimulant, making it harder to fall asleep.
Tip Number Ten: Eat Well
Finally, tip number ten is making sure that your diet is well balanced. This is by no means saying to skip the pizza and ice cream permanently. You're allowed to have 'cheat' meals, but having a whole foods based approach will make both your body and mind feel more energetic.