Friday 27 May 2016

8 Simple Ways To Improve Your Mental Health Today

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Self-care is so important. As someone who is very anxious a lot of the time and worries about a lot of things which in hindsight never need to be worried about to begin with, self-care is vitally important to me. However, although I understand the importance of it this doesn't necessarily mean that I always practice it. I am the worst for healthy eating, taking breaks and drinking lots of water. Although I do not underestimate the importance of these things; don't expect me to give that advice if I can't keep to it myself.

However, here are eight things which I either do or am trying to do more to improve my mental health and wellbeing. Remember you don't have to have a mental illness to need to do these things, everyone should be looking after their mental health, as a way reducing the risk of you suffering mental health struggles in the future. I hope you find these tips useful!

As a blogger, I spend a lot of my time online. Part of my 'job' or 'hobby' if you like, is to interact, communicate and talk to other bloggers on a range of different platforms. Whether this is through Twitter chats, commenting on peoples' Instagram photos or repinning pins on Pinterest, I spend a lot of time online. All social media platforms can generate negativity and hate, however, the main culprit for me is Facebook. Facebook is the worst for bringing my mood down. I see all these people 'living the dream' having fun with their friends and then there's me, who hasn't left the house in a week.

It's simple! Log out of Facebook, delete it if you are feeling brave! Soon you will forget that you even have it and won't miss it at all! No more negativity bringing your mood down!

Exercise is very beneficial for both your physical and emotional wellbeing. Physical exercise releases chemicals called endorphins such as dopamine which are responsible for boosting your mood. Going for a run, a jog or even a walk help boost your mood. Don't worry, I hate physical exercise too! PE lessons at school traumatised me for life, but getting outdoors doesn't have to involve you playing rugby with some mid 40's woman shouting at you.

Start simple, work your way up. I am currently using an app called 10K which gives you ideas of what you can do, to help build you up to do a whole 10k. It obviously starts simple and gets harder and longer, but if you stick with it, your stamina will improve and it will be very achievable. 

When people hear the word mediate, they automatically think of people sat in fields going 'hum' over and over again. Meditation doesn't have to be like this if you would prefer it not to. The great thing about mindfulness is that you can adapt it to suit you and your lifestyle. If you don't know what mindfulness actually is basically it's a concept that involves you taking a few minutes out of your day to relax, de-stress and step away from the hustle and bustle of normal day to day life.

There are many things you can do to practice mindfulness. Downloading the app 'Calm' would be a great place to start and follow their 7 days of calm programme to introduce you to the whole idea of mindfulness. You could also practice yoga, fill in an adult colouring book or listen to some peaceful music. But like anything, in order to be good at mindfulness, you need to practice. It can be very hard to get your brain to adjust to having 'time out' but its worth it!

Now I know for some people this isn't going to be possible, however, if you can try, going to bed earlier. Your body needs rest, so give it rest. Sleeping has so many physical benefits upon your body e.g. growth and opportunity to recuperate but it also has fantastic benefits upon your mental health. It helps boost your mood, makes you less grumpy and helps your brain process the events from the day.

Lots of people have good intentions to go to bed earlier, but actually doing so can be a lot harder. Try leaving your phone in the other room. turning off your internet and going to bed half an hour earlier than you usually would. Don't worry, Twitter and Instagram will still be there tomorrow

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In 2016, it's hard not to get caught up in the digital world. We all have smartphones, laptops, and tablets. We all like to know what's happening right now across the world, what our friends have had for breakfast, what the weather is going to be like in a months time, not to mention frantically Googling and worrying about all our medical ailments with the help of the NHS choices website. 

Our minds are always active, they are constantly processing information being sat in front of a screen all day, is just adding to this process. Although that's not always a bad thing, sometimes your mind will benefit from having some time out. Enjoying a book, listening to some music, finding a new hobby etc. are all things you can do instead of sitting and staring at a screen all day, aimlessly waiting for something new to happen!  

I know that most of my worries and anxieties are based on things that I can't control. Whether that be the weather, bad things happening or waiting for test results to come back. I know I can't control these things but I worry anyway. To help reduce my stress levels and to improve my overall mental wellbeing, I am trying to counteract a negative thought with asking myself if I can control what I am worrying about.

For some things this works better than others. For example, if I get worried that I am going to be sick, if I asked myself this question, the answer would be yes I can control it and I would wash my hands compulsively, which is not good. However, for anxiety and stress, this can help wonders. Once you realise that most of the things you worry about can't be controlled- you will be a lot happier and less anxious. 

Talking is one of the best ways to get everything off  your chest. Yes, okay in terms of psychotherapy we have moved away from just talking about our issues, laying back on a big black chair (Thanks, Freud) and most of us are now more familiar with therapy such as CBT ( Cognitive behavioural therapy) Talking should not be dismissed as being a fantastic way to help your mental health. Think of it like this, the more you bottle it up, the more you are filling up the glass with water but soon the glass won't be able to take any more and it will start overspilling...we don't want this!

Talk to your friends, family,  charity organisations or even your GP. The more you talk about and go through your worries, water will be taken from your imgainary glass and it won't overfill! If you have't got the courage to talk just yet, write it down instead. Anything to get it off your mind will help!  

We are all very ego-centric, we only see things from one point of view- our own. We think are worries and stresses are worst things ever. What we don't recognise is what we have, which we take for granted. We all get stressed about exams, deadlines and work but we fail to realise just how lucky we are to have an education in the first place. So many young children in third world countires will never get the opportunity to learn, develop and enhace their knowledge in the same ways which we take for granted. This is just one example, the list is endless.

Graititude (Taking time out of your day to be thankful for the things you take for granted) can support your mental health, as once you realise you are extremely lucky to have the things you do have, your problems don't seem as big anymore. Prespective is so important. This isn't to say are problems aren't justifed, of course they are- we are all human beings, but maybe they aren't all that bad as we think. Start a gratitude log and record three things you are thankful for each day.

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I hope you found these eight tips useful! Let me know if you use any of these already and if you find them helpful, in the comments below!

Thanks for reading, as always x

PS: Who likes my new infographic for Pinterest? Isn't it so fancy and professional?
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