What can affect my mental health?
The conversation around mental health is continuing to grow. We all know that we need to take care of our bodies. Whilst mental health may be catching up to the discussion about physical health where there is still a gap, for many people, is knowledge. We know how to improve our physical health – by exercising and eating a well-balanced diet – but many of us are not as clear on how to better care for our mental wellbeing. This guide will address some great ways that you can take better care of your mental health.
Mental And Physical Health Are Connected
A possibly surprising reality is if you know how to care for your physical health you also know a good amount about caring for your mental wellness too. According to the NHS, there is a significant overlap between the effects of looking after your physical health and the impact it can have on your mental health. Both healthy eating and being active can help you maintain your mental wellness.
Being Active and Exercising
Being active has been linked to reduced stress and anxiety and improved sleep. One important thing to note is being active doesn’t necessarily mean exercise. Whilst exercise is great you don’t need to play a 90 minute game of football every day. Getting to the gym for a long run on the treadmill can be daunting. Focus on smaller goals if needed, these could be anything like:
- Doing housework
- Taking a walk in the park
- Doing Yoga in your home
Just like the rest of your body, your brain requires a full range of nutrients to function optimally. This doesn’t mean sticking to an extremely strict diet seven days a week. If you’re too restrictive it will be hard to maintain it for any length of time. Consistency is key and a healthy diet has the potential to increase brain function. Mental health isn’t once and done, it requires constant maintenance. Aim for a balance between healthy eating and long-term sustainability.
Sleep is also very important to your mental health. Like eating well and being active, consistently getting good quality sleep is beneficial to both your physical and mental wellness. Sleep and mental wellbeing are closely connected with sleep deprivation affecting your mental health, and mental health disorders increasing the likelihood of insomnia (and other sleep disorders). As you can see this can create a loop in which sleep deprivation decreases your mental wellness and your reduced mental state leads to less sleep. It is important to prevent or break this cycle.
Sunlight and Serotonin
Serotonin production in the body is triggered by exposure to sunlight. Serotonin, also known as the happy chemical, is a chemical produced in the body and it is closely related to our happiness levels. It is so closely related that there is such a thing as Seasonal Affective Disorder a seasonal depression that correlates with when there are fewer hours of daylight. Where practical seek out sunlight, just a little exposure every day could be enough to improve your overall mental wellness.
Mental Health Professionals
Working with mental health professionals is one of the best ways to better care for your mental wellness. Mental health professionals are not limited to therapists and councillors. Where mental health conditions exist, it is important to work with professionals who understand how to help you feel comfortable and safe. There are mental health professionals in all aspects of life, from mental health ambulance professionals to all manner of mental health support workers, who are trained to best accommodate your needs.
If you require mental health support or need a professional who can accommodate your mental health requirements there are people who can help. Caring for your mental health doesn’t need to be done alone.
The effect of people on your mental health isn’t limited to mental health professionals. Socialising with other people is also great for mental wellness. Feeling isolated is not good for mental health and having someone to talk to is beneficial. Try to meet people in person as much as possible. If your only option is to connect virtually try using a video chat – it will help you feel more connected than text on a screen.
Having someone there when struggling with your mental health is so important, and is a piece of the puzzle that often gets overlooked when dealing with mental heath struggles. A support system is a crucial part of the long term recovery from mental health struggles.
Handling and knowing what is best for your mental health isn’t always easy. However, with a plan and a more knowledge around the topic, you can make a big difference to your mental wellness. By implementing the tips in this guide, you will enable yourself to take better care for your mental wellbeing.
We hope this guide has shed some insight into how you are able to take care of your mental wellbeing. Remember, helplines are available to you should you need them.