5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Mental Health
Your mental health matters.
Yes there’re people in more challenging situations than you, and yes you’ve got loads of things to be happy about, and I know you lead a jam-packed chocka-block life…. but putting all ifs/buts/and what-abouts aside, it’s still so important to prioritise your mental health.
And can we please put a stop to believing the nonsense that self-love is selfish.
Looking after yourself and giving yourself time, love and energy will actually help you give, love and look after others more. I mean think about it, don’t you feel like a better friend/mother/father/partner when you’re not feeling tired, ill or stressed out? When you’re actually in a good place and have the time and energy to properly listen, love and care for the other person.
Practicing self-love actually sets you up to better care for others.
And one of my all time fave quotes is from the fabulous RuPaul:
“If you can’t love yourself… How in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Amen!
You can’t be or do your best if you’re not taking care of yourself. So here are my 5 super simple ways to give your mental health a boost… in no particular order… let’s do this:
- Move Your Bod.Your mind and body are one. We humans are designed to move. So when you stop moving your body, your mind can often start to feel a bit restless too.
By regularly moving your body, you release endorphins and hormones that give your mood an instant boost! So book that dance class, whack on that dusty Davina DVD, or pop outside for a brisk walk in the sunshine (hopefully!). It all counts. Any way you can move your body will be improving your mental (and physical) health – bonus points if you do something that makes you laugh, smile and that you totally love doing.
- Hydration, hydration, hydration.On Sunday night, we ended up in A&E. Matt had been having this awful cold-flu type thing all week and was properly feeling under the weather. But on Sunday it started to impact his breathing. He was really short of breath, and no amount of extra inhaler puffs seemed to ease it. After calling 111 they advised we pop to A&E to get it checked out.
After several hours waiting, a numb bum and an increasingly anxious Matthew, we saw the doctor and got the results back from the various blood tests and breathing tests he’d had. The first thing the doctor said was, how much water have you drank over the weekend?
In short, all his symptoms – his lowered lung capacity, shortness of breath and anxiety – had all been caused from dehydration.Wow. How’s about that for a reminder of how important it is to keep hydrated. What was so interesting, was once Matt had rehydrated he reflected and said he couldn’t believe how much the lack of hydration had impacted his mental health and how anxious he’d felt. It’s so often the simplest things. Things we already know we should do, but so easily forget about in the fastness and distraction-full lives we lead. For my 2 simple tips to help you win with hydration including how to calculate the exact amount of water you personally should drink a day, check out this blogpost too.
- Bed time means bed time.
This single change made THE BIGGEST difference for me! When I go to bed, I leave my phone in another room. My bedroom is a phone-free-zone.This means two things. Firstly, I’m not scrolling and filling my head with ideas, things to do, or reminders of the ever-demanding external world just before I go to bed. Allowing my brain to switch off a little easier and I fall asleep better for it too.
And secondly… this one really blew my mind! … when I wake up, I don’t immediately start scrolling or checking my emails and filling my head with demands and anxieties BEFORE I’M EVEN VERTICAL! That is what I used to do. I’d wake up, and whilst still horizontal, I’d check my emails, my texts, Facebook, Instagram… all before I’d barely woken up. Filling my head with demands, things I “should do”, making me feel like I was already behind before I’d even started my day. I SWEAR by this rule (hence the amount of capital letters I’ve used! ;-p). And I would love you to try it to see if it makes a profound impact on your mental health like it has on mine. Leave your phone outside your room when you go to bed. Either in the kitchen or in the living room. Anywhere but your bedroom. Now I can already hear your mind whirring round with worries… “but what about my alarm” or “what if someone calls me in an emergency, my kids/friends/grandad/mum needs to be able to reach me if something happens.” I get it, totally understand. What I’d invite you to do, is let all the people who might need to contact you in an emergency, know to call you. Not text, not email, but to call you if there’s an emergency. That way, you’ll hear your phone if it’s calling and you can wake up and respond. You’re still there for them, and you’re there for yourself.
And with the “my phone is my alarm clock” thought…. keep your phone in the hall way, near your door (but not in the bedroom), face down so no light disturbs your sleep. Then in the morning when you hear it go off, you can get up and switch it off. (Bonus because it actually helps you get out of bed too!). And once you’ve turned your alarm off, refrain from unlocking and using it. Just put it down and start your morning – jump in the shower, make your breakfast. I try and leave it an hour from when I wake up to when I look at my phone. If this feels like waaayyyy to long, maybe try starting with 20 minutes, or half an hour. It’ll make such a difference. Tough love time: if you’re really struggling with the phone alarm issue…. go and buy yourself an alarm clock. I promise you the tenner it costs is worth it 100 times over.
- Brain rest.
Imagine you have a baby (– maybe you do!). They’ve played with their toys, they’ve enjoyed story-time with their friends, and they’ve got creative during messy play (aka lunch). Phew! What a morning. And then they start to get a bit grizzly and tearful. Any parent knows, this is not because they’re hungry, thirsty or in pain. It’s simply nap time. Time for their little mind to rest and digest all the morning’s activities. But as adults, we expect us to wake up at the crack of dawn every day, work every God-given hour, catch up with friends some point in the week, update Instagram on the regs, go to the gym several times, down 30 cups of coffee, make sure Nan’s doing alright, pick up the kids from this place, that place and drop off someone else’s children too! And we’re supposed to do all that – and more – and maintain a healthy, consistent “good mood”, with no mention of nap-time. Whaaaaatt?! When did we forget that we are, at the end of the day, just humans. Just flesh and blood. Not super-bionic. We are wonderfully mortal, with energy levels, mood swings, PMS and emotions. And I think it’s about time we learnt to respect and embrace this. Now maybe “nap-time” isn’t always convenient when you work in the UK society (rock on for all those countries who encourage siestas!), but time to digest, switch off and allow your brain to rest can be. Meditation is a great way to let your brain actually relax. Giving it space to unwind. Thinking-time is my alternative for the straight-talkers. Just giving yourself a couple of hours, with no-distractions (yes turn your phone to do not disturb mode) and let yourself just be. I personally like to do this in my fave coffee shop so it feels a bit more special, and with a notepad at hand so I can write down any ideas that crop up that I want to look into later. I find meditation or thinking time invaluable.
By giving your mind the time and space to process, it properly frees up your headspace and allows you to feel creative and relax, without a million things whirring round your noggin. The more often you can do this, the better! I make time to do this every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes on some days.
** important note: watching mindless telly I’m afraid doesn’t count. It’ll numb your mind not give it space to breathe. (Don’t get me wrong, there’s time for mindless telly if you want, just don’t use it as an alternative!)
- Treat yo-self!
Give yourself a little love. This can come in many shapes and sizes.Maybe it’s a face-mask or getting your nails done. Maybe it’s an aromatherapy bath or a spa day. Or booking yourself on to a meditation workshop or sound bath. Whatever it is, find a lush way to give yourself some loving and make yourself feel special. Because you are. And you deserve it.
Hand on heart, I really hope these ideas make a difference for you. I know they certainly have helped to make a huge shift in my life. And I’d love to hear about things you already do to boost your mood, and uplift your mental health? Let us know all about them in the comments below. Your idea/ritual could make the world of difference to someone else.
With so much love,