Looking after our Mental Health
As someone who works regularly with those experiencing mental health issues along the spectrum from mild to acute, I have come to understand some of the greatest and simplest things we can do to take care of ourselves. Acknowledging and addressing our mental health isn’t something we should ignore until we’re at a crisis point. I feel that it’s just as important to build good mental health just like we build good physical health from exercising and moving our body.
Here are some tips to help build and maintain good mental health.
Having positive relationships is an important factor, contributing to a sense of belonging and wellbeing. Relationships take time and effort and it’s important that we prioritise spending time with those we love and who make us feel good. Friends. Family. School peers. Work colleagues. Community.
Move your body
Exercise is well documented to improve our mental health, reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. It releases those feel-good hormones so making sure we honour our body with movement daily will go a long way towards improving our overall wellbeing.
There are many different guidelines around what we should eat which means this aspect can be an incredibly confusing area to navigate. Keep it really basic and easy when it comes to food. Eat mostly plants – lots of veg, some fruit. Include a small amount of protein and healthy fat at each meal. Avoid processed foods/anything in a packet. Drink loads of water. You may also like to visit your doctor to check if you have any deficiencies in the body that may need to be addressed through changes to what you eat or supplementation.
Get enough sleep
I cannot stress enough how important sleep is. It’s a good goal to aim to be in bed for 9 hours each night and asleep for at least 8. Develop a night time routine that prepares your body for rest and keep technology out of the bedroom.
Create a daily habit of being thankful for all the good in your life. One method of doing this is to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things each day that you are grateful for. Another way could be to begin each family meal with everyone taking turns saying what they are thankful for that day. A focus on the positive, what we have and what we love creates a healthy mindset of abundance leading to increased wellbeing.
Identify and use your strengths
Knowing who we are and what we’re good at increases confidence and contentment. Find out what your strengths are in terms of skills, knowledge and personality and draw on these daily. Focus on our amazingness and we feel and become more amazing.
Flow is a state of being where you are so absorbed in an activity that you enjoy that you lose track of time. The activity will be different for every person and may happen during work, hobbies, creative practices, sport, exercise or time with loved ones. I encourage you to take some time to explore various activities and find what creates flow for you – it’s such a beautiful state to be in.
Give to others
Helping another person is good for the soul and can have a profound, ripple effect, increasing not just our own social wellbeing but also that of those around us. “No one has ever become poor by giving” - Anne Frank. Try volunteering, helping a neighbour or performing small acts of kindness and take note of how it makes you feel.
Being involved in spiritual or religious practices can improve wellbeing, help cope with the stressors of life and reduce symptoms of mental illness. This may include belonging to a faith community, meditation, prayer, mindfulness, yoga or tai chi.
It’s important to remember that you don’t need to do things alone. If you’re struggling in any way, reach out to someone who can support you - your doctor, a mental health professional, teacher, family or friend.
Please get in touch with our wellbeing services team if you would like to discuss any of these aspects further or if we can support your child to develop a plan to address their mental health in a proactive way.