Eight Tips To Improve Your Mental Health
With World Mental Health Day 2018 taking place this Wednesday 10th October it’s a reminder to us all to look after ourselves and to remember that it’s often the little things that can make a big difference to improving our mental health. Throughout my career as an athlete I have struggled dealing with the highs and the lows in sport and the aftermath of dealing with a career threatening incurable illness. Through a lot of trial and error, as well some amazing support services, I have dealt with this challenge however maintaining positive mental health for me is an ongoing daily practice. We are all different and what works for one may not work for another so here are my top wellness tips for you to look through.
Accepting who we are can often be the hardest thing to do. We are constantly reminded that we need to look a certain way, achieve specific goals, work harder and maybe then we will be worthy. Comparing ourselves to others and the unrealistic images that we are bombarded with takes a massive toll on our self esteem. In reality, we are all different and it’s much healthier to accept our unique qualities instead of comparing ourselves to others. Self acceptance increases our confidence and our courage to then try new activities as well as helping us cope with life when challenges show up.
Ask for help
We can all get overwhelmed with life and the stress that comes with it. Trying to keep that stress and anxiety within ourselves can seriously negatively affect our mental health. Although it can feel very difficult to ask for help, there are options available to us when life becomes overwhelming. Try speaking to friends or family that you trust or look at the mental health resources available online (like this). There are also support groups available or your GP may be able to refer you to a suitable support service.
According to the Mental Health Foundation there is a strong link between how we feel and the food we eat. Drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy balanced diet can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health.
Exercise causes us to release those feel good chemicals which in turn help to boost self-esteem, increase our concentration as well as improving sleep patterns. This doesn’t mean you have to be an elite athlete. You can take part in any form of physical activity whether that’s going to a gym, playing a sport, practicing yoga or going for a walk. There are so many ways to get active and it’s also a great opportunity to meet new people.
Make time for friends and family
Maintaining our relationships with family and friends are a great way to make life more enjoyable and it also can be a brilliant support when we are struggling. Problems can often become easier when we have someone who can listen to us with empathy and who may be able to offer encouragement or advice.
When I don’t get enough sleep I am far less effective in my sport and in any activity I plan to do. There is now a proven link between sleep and mental health and so getting enough sleep can really help us if we are struggling. Even trying to go to bed a few minutes earlier each night and putting away our phones can make a difference! If lack of sleep is becoming a serious issue don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Life can feel a lot better when we focus on what we have rather than what is missing. Expressing what you are thankful for can help in improving your mental health. Why not try making gratitude a daily practice by writing down three things you’re grateful for each day.
Learning how to say no has been one of the most difficult things I have learned to do. We are often consumed with guilt by saying no to someone when they ask us to do something. When we constantly say yes to others we are really saying that we ourselves do not matter and we end up taking on too much with reluctance. It can lead us to become overwhelmed and our mental health takes the hit. Drawing boundaries and sticking to them is an ongoing practice and with time it becomes easier. Remember your self worth is important and it is not selfish to take care of yourself.