Many of us have experienced poorer mental health over this time. For some people, it’s the first time they’ve experienced bouts of anxiety or depression. It’s important that we remember to care for ourselves and be mindful that our mental health needs tending too.
Here are some of the best ways to help improve your mental health.
1. Get some sleep
This can be easier said than done when you’ve got worries swirling around your head. But when we don’t get enough sleep, we’re more likely to get upset, angry and more irritable. We find it harder to concentrate and it can affect our entire day.
2. Get moving
Exercise has so many physical and mental benefits. Physically, it may help lower blood pressure and lower your blood cholesterol level. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood, which can then reduce your stress and other symptoms of poor mental health.
3. Get social
We’ve all experienced loneliness throughout this pandemic. Social isolation can be a risk factor for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, so it’s important that we maintain connections wherever we can. Even small interactions with people when you’re out can make a difference. You could smile at a neighbour or strike up a conversation with the barista at your local café. All these social interactions can gradually build your network and help you improve your mental health.
4. Eat well
What you eat can affect how you feel. Eating well can help you sleep better and raise your energy and health levels. Eating lots of fruit, vegetables, wholegrain cereals, nuts and seeds can help to improve your mental health.
5. Drink enough water
Did you know that even mild dehydration can affect your mood? Dehydration can quickly affect our levels of fatigue, tension, and anxiety so it’s vital that we drink enough water throughout the day. The recommended daily amount for men is 10 cups of fluids, and for women 8 cups. A cup is equivalent to 250ml. You may need more if you’re exercising or losing a lot of water through sweat.
6. Reduce your stress
If you often get stressed out, you might need to find some ways to manage your stress levels. If you’re stressed about work, try to reduce your workload and don’t take work home. If you’re stressed about something at home, think about how you can decrease the load. Ask a family member to help more or try to outsource some of your tasks.
7. Get mindful
If your stress is more about how you’re feeling rather than what you’re doing, mindfulness could be one way to reduce your stress levels and improve your mental health. When we practise mindfulness, we pay more attention to our present moment and accept it without judgement.
8. Treat yourself kindly
We’re all guilty of negative self-talk but it’s not great for your mental health. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to someone you love. Highlight the things you’re good at and forgive yourself for the things you’re not so good at. Instead of thinking “I’m not coping”, think: “I’m coping as well as I can, considering what I’m dealing with.”
9. Find some balance
Think about the areas of your life and whether you’re too focused on one particular area, like work or children. Finding time for yourself in a busy life is an important way to look after your mental health. You could take up a new hobby like dancing or knitting or you could sit down with a book for 15 minutes a day. Whatever it is, add it to your weekly routine and enjoy it without guilt.
10. Ask for help
If you think your mental health is getting worse, there is no shame in asking for help. A trusted health professional may help you find other ways to improve your mental health. Talk to a CAREinMIND counsellor on 1300 096 269. It’s free to people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If it is an emergency, please call 000.
The CAREinMIND blog is delivered by On the Line. The views in each post do not necessarily reflect those of North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.