15 Feb 5 ways to take care of your mental health
Ever joked about taking a mental health day? It’s not such a bad idea. In honour of Mental Health Month (a campaign to promote positive health and wellbeing throughout October), we’re dishing up five tips you can try to give your headspace some TLC. And – spoiler alert – taking time out just for you is on the list!
1. Get some sleep
Permission to snooze, granted! Sleep is vital for wellbeing – in fact, a lack of it is associated with depression and anxiety as well as a range of physical health problems. The amount of sleep we need differs from person to person, but between six to eight hours a night is a good guideline. This month, make sleep a priority. One of the best ways to score quality zzs is to set a regular bed and wake time and stick to it – even on weekends.
2. Notice your self-talk
This month, commit to keeping an eye on your inner monologue. That voice in your head has a way of getting nasty if we don’t watch it, which can really knock your self-esteem. Try to notice what you’re telling yourself in your quiet moments, and if something negative or critical pops into your mind, make a conscious effort to reword it with a kinder spin.
3. Make a move
We’re big fans of this one! Exercise is a really great way to look after your mental health, even if it’s just a simple stroll in the sunshine. Movement is powerful because it triggers a flood of feel-good chemicals in your brain, pumps blood to your grey matter and sparks new neural connections. It also improves sleep, so it’s a double boon for your mental wellbeing. Experts say that doing moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week can have a real impact on your mood, but it doesn’t have to be all at once: you can build it up in 10 or 15-minute blocks if 30 minutes is too overwhelming.
4. Be grateful
It might feel weird to consciously count your blessings, but many studies have linked a regular gratitude practice to improved mental wellbeing. It’s been shown to boost everything from empathy to self-esteem and even sleep quality! Try noting down three things you’re grateful for in a journal every night before you go to sleep, or download an app like Gratitude Garden, which gives you a prompt every day to recall the good stuff in your life. Not sure what to write? Notice the little things, like having a comfy bed to sleep in, or a delicious cup of coffee.
5. Practise self-care
It’s easy to get so caught up in your daily to-do list that you forget to factor in some time for yourself. It might even feel a bit selfish. But, here’s the thing: taking care of your own happiness will better equip you to help others. So, don’t be shy about setting aside some time to do something just for you, whether it’s a date with a good book once a week or a daily meditation session. Whatever fills your cup.