Everyone has mental health, whether it’s good or bad, or even somewhere in between. Our mental health needs looking after, just like our physical health and in the same way that we can easily slip into bad habits that affect our body in a harmful way, we can just as easily pick up bad habits or neglect our mental health.
You don’t have to make big changes if you don’t already have a mental illness, as you’re not going to have to work as hard to keep your mental health in good shape but if you are diagnosed with a mental illness, then keeping up with at least some of these habits will get you on the right track.
Here’s a list of habits you can adopt for good mental health.
I get it, you’re probably sick of people telling you that you need a good nights sleep, especially if you really struggle to sleep but it is a huge factor in having good mental health.
I know all too well, being a Mum to restless twins, that lack of sleep has a detrimental affect on your mental well being. Some days I can barely function and my anxiety is through the roof because I’m so tired. Anxiety then contributes to more lack of sleep and it can be vicious cycle.
If sleeping is a battle because I’m getting woken up all night, I at least try and find parts of the day where I can rest and close my eyes, even if I’m not actually sleeping. If it’s the anxiety keeping me awake, I try and trick my brain by telling myself I want to stay awake (ever wonder why you fall asleep so much easier while trying to watch a film?) and I’ll think about something I want to keep thinking about, like designing our future house in my head, or what I’d like to write about next. I go full reverse psychology on myself and then I’m fighting to stay awake instead!
White noise, rain sounds and natural sleeping tablets have also helped me in the past. If getting enough sleep is becoming too hard for you, see your GP.
2. Exercise & Diet
Thought I would get this super obvious one out of the way. Just like your physical health responds much better to exercise and a well balanced diet, so does your brain!
You don’t have to go extreme and start training for a marathon or anything but going for a nice gentle walk for 30 minutes everyday will certainly help. If you’re chronically ill, I know this can be super tricky, as some days the physical pain will be too much or walking in general is just a no-go. Maybe try some swimming or even beginners Yoga at home, where you can go at your own pace, like this Bed Yoga For Spoonies.
As for diet, it has become quite well documented that mental health can be linked to gut health. It’s definitely worth looking into and finding a healthy balance diet that helps your gut health.
We all know that having a good laugh reduces stress levels, so why not make it a daily habit? Make sure you factor in having fun at least once a day, whether it’s seeing a friend you know will make you laugh or watching funny clips on YouTube.
4. Talk To People
Obviously if you already have social anxiety, this can be difficult but even if you’re chatting to someone online for a while, at least you’re talking to someone and you’re not isolated.
If you want to find like minded people to talk to, you’re welcome to join my anxiety group.
5. Practice Gratitude
When things aren’t going very well externally, it’s useful to our mental health to find things that we’re grateful for. After all, good mental health isn’t about having a perfect life, it’s being able to keep our heads in the game despite things going wrong around us.
If you’re able to find things to be grateful for on the bad days, the good days will feel even better.
6. Let Go Of Toxicity
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had at least someone in our lives that brings us down and makes us feel like a pile of wank every time we are with them. If you have someone like that, who doesn’t bring anything positive to your life, then it is perfectly okay to cut ties.
Letting go of toxic, controlling and abusive friendships or relationships means we take control back and limit the amount of damage they can do to our mental health.
7. Spend Time In Daylight
Getting outdoors is so important. Vitamin D from the sun helps boost our mood and release chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin. It’s even more important to get more outdoors time in the winter, when the days are shorter. If you can incorporate your exercise with going outside, that’s at least two habits for good mental health in one!
8. Acts Of Kindness
Doing things for others is amazing for your self-esteem. You could try, doing some essential shopping for your elderly neighbours, volunteering at a charity, giving compliments, leaving a good review etc.
9. Being Happy For Others
Comparing ourselves to others and feeling jealous and bitter over other peoples successes can be a really draining way to live and is awful on our mental health. Learn to be happy for others by reminding yourself that we all have our own personal strengths and we simply cannot be the best at everything or even have things happen to us at the same pace.
10. Strive For Contentment
A lot of people say they just want to be happy but to me, happiness isn’t a goal. It’s not a linear thing that we can achieve and then feel forever more. Our level of happy can go up or down at any given moment, so to strive for just happiness feels a bit unachievable.
Contentment on the other hand, lasts much longer. If you know how to practice gratitude for what you have, then I believe contentment can be achieved.
11. Make Tasks and Goals More Achievable
Break your tasks down, so they are smaller and more achievable. Start with the hardest one, so that the worst part is out of the way.
Overloading ourselves with endless tasks and goals can lead to burnout and then we end up getting hardly anything done.
It’s better to get one or two tasks done than absolutely nothing at all because we’ve stressed ourselves out just thinking about it.
12. Look Out For Signs
If you feel like you’re having more bad days than good and you’re not coping well with them, please make an appointment to see your doctor. It’s best to get ahead of the problem before it snowballs into something much bigger and harder to come back from.
Try this quick test from the Mental Health Foundation to find out your good mental health score.
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