If we said to you “let’s improve your mental health, starting today”, it might sound like a big undertaking. A long process filled with a lot of time, effort, and commitment.
But it can be easier than you think. Research has shown us that there are little things that we can all do every day to help boost and maintain our mental health. Together, it’s these little changes that can add up to big results for your wellbeing.
As we celebrate Mental Health Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to try incorporating these steps into your daily routine and start feeling the benefits.
You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about sleep and our health. And the hype is all true. A lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, can have a serious impact on your physical and mental wellness. Not only can it increase your chance of getting heart disease and diabetes, but poor sleep patterns can also lead to anxiety and depression.
To get a better night’s sleep and improve your health, here are some tips we recommend.
- Try and stick to a consistent sleep pattern (i.e. have consistent bedtimes and wake up times).
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Try and avoid daytime napping as this can interfere with your sleep at night. If you do need to nap, limit it to 30 minutes.
- Switch off your screens before bed. The blue light emitted by our devices can disrupt our body’s sleep rhythm.
- Replace pre-bedtime screen scrolling with calming activities like taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music.
- Avoid big, heavy meals right before bedtime as well as nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.
- Make your bedroom a comfortable, restful place that promotes sleep (i.e. ensure the room gets sufficiently dark and blocks out light, and that it’s temperature controlled)
A landmark study led by the Black Dog Institute found that small amounts of exercise, regardless of intensity, can help prevent the onset of depression. It doesn't have to be an intense workout, but getting your heart rate up and moving your body for at least 20 minutes a day makes a world of difference for your mental health
So, even if going for a run or hitting the gym is not your thing, taking yourself for a walk at lunch, or doing a session of yoga, can still help protect your mental health. Exercise is also a fantastic stress reliever and releases endorphins – your body’s feel-good chemicals.
Make time for you
We know that life can get busy. Work, family and competing priorities can leave us feeling overrun and burned out. While it might take some crafty scheduling in the diary, make sure you book in some regular ‘me time’.
What brings your joy? What makes you feel happy? What make you feel relaxed? It doesn’t have to be fancy or extravagant – it could be binging an episode of your favourite TV show, reading a book in a comfy onesie, or playing with your dog in the backyard. Whatever makes you feel good, make time to do it!
Connect with others
When it comes to our levels of social activity, everyone is different. Some people are extroverts, some introverts, and others are somewhere in between. But as humans, we all need some level of social interaction. Connection with others, whether that be with family, friends, fur friends or the community, is vital for your mental wellbeing at any age. Developing meaningful connections and healthy relationships can raise your self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
We understand that prolonged periods of lockdown and the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic have made it harder than ever to connect with others. Many of us have felt the impact of social isolation and loneliness. If you are still being impacted by these events, make a habit of rescheduling in regular Zoom catch ups and phone calls with your loved ones.
You may have heard of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘mindful meditation – but what do these terms mean? Essentially, mindfulness is about being present in the moment. It’s about learning to pay attention to the ‘here and now’ and accepting that in a non-judgmental way. Often, our mind can go into negative spirals, and we might spend time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Being too caught up in your thoughts may even make it hard to fall asleep at night.
Mindfulness helps counteract these negative patterns. It enables you to process and manage these negative thoughts and feelings in a more positive way. Research has shown mindfulness can help us manage our emotions and thought processes, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve our memory.
For more information about how to use mindfulness techniques, check out this guide.
What if none of these tips help?
While the tips we’ve outlined have all been shown to help improve overall mental health, if you are experiencing a mental health disorder, making these changes may not be enough for you to feel a real difference. If you think you might be affected by anxiety, depression or another mood disorder (see our previous blog for a list of common symptoms), it is important that you seek medical advice from a healthcare professional.
At AlayaCare, we believe in better outcomes, including the better health outcomes of our clients and the industry. Contact AlayaCare To learn more.