October 10th is World Mental Health Day. According to mentalhealth.gov, “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
You might feel that you’ve never experienced any mental health issues or illnesses, but regardless of whether you have or have not; it’s important to look after our mental health and encourage others to do so too.
Here are 7 things you can do to look after your mental health:
Talk about your feelings
"Express yourself, don't repress yourself." - Madonna
Most of us have a difficult time with this one, but talking about your feelings is a good way to face your problems and let go of issues you have been holding on to for a while. Saying how you feel in one word might be difficult, so use LOTS of them. What are you experiencing? Is it awkward? Oh, you bet, but it won’t hurt if you try to make it your thing. Embrace the awkwardness, because it’s a part of who you are, and you should always embrace yourself.
It’s good practice to eat at least three times a day. A healthy selection of foods that are good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
A healthy diet might include:
- Lots of fruits and vegetables
- Whole-grain cereal or bread
- Oily fish
- Nuts, legumes, and seeds
- Calcium-rich products
- Plenty of water (To calculate how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis, take your weight, in pounds, and divide it by 2. The number you get is how many ounces of water your body needs to stay healthy.)
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” - Elle Woods
Regular exercise can help boost your energy levels, confidence, and self-esteem. It helps you concentrate better, sleep more soundly, and overall just feel better. If you’re confined to a desk for long periods of time, invest in a walking desk or have a stretch and go for a short walk around the office each hour.
Take a break
Go for a walk, travel, take a few deep breaths, and venture to the other side of the road. A change of scenery or pace can help reduce your stress levels. Do you know the infamous “me-time”? Well, this is it. Whether you use it to be very active or take a moment to do nothing, there is no wrong way to spend this time. This is for you, so go ahead, take a deep breath and CHILL.
Do something you’re good at
Art? Needlepoint? Soccer? Football? Doing an activity you enjoy is a great way to boost your self-esteem. Try to find an interest that speaks to you, in your truest form, where you aren’t someone’s mom, dad, brother, sister, boss, employee, friend, partner… (I’m sure you get the point). Find something where you’re just you.
Accept yourself for who you are
This is another difficult one to practice, and might even be the most difficult one of them all. Some of us are good dancers, programmers, musicians, and others can always make us laugh or give us a space where we can just be ourselves. You are unique and that should be accepted and embraced. By accepting who we are, we boost our self-esteem and increase our confidence. Confidence and self-esteem can only benefit you when life throws curve balls or gives you a pail of lemons when all you wanted was a cold glass of lemonade.
Care for others
Helping and uplifting others also boosts your self-esteem. Volunteering for a charity, helping a family member move, or just listening to your friends during times of stress or sadness can make you feel needed and valued.
It also helps us see the world from a different angle and reinstill our faith in humanity. If you apply this concept to your personality, you’ll end up looking at your problems in a whole new perspective and you may end up feeling like they aren’t really problems at all, but rather opportunities to grow and improve.
So if you remember anything, remember this: Strive to be kind… to yourself and to others.