Good mental health is as important to your wellbeing as physical health, yet is rarely treated with the same urgency.
You’d never ignore a broken leg – yet many people hesitate to acknowledge and look after mental health problems in the same way.
Though not as visible as a physical injury, it’s much more common than you think – according to mental health charity mind, 1 in 6 people are dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress.
The good news is, there are plenty of small, simple things we can to to prioritise and look after our mental health. Here are a few to get you started.
Talk about your feelings
Keeping a stiff upper lip is a traditional British attitude, but it’s one that isn’t always helpful when it comes to our mental health. Talking about how you feel regularly with the people you love and trust is key to good mental health and helps us release stress and cope with our problems. Even the simple act of feeling listened to helps ease loneliness.
Share what’s on your mind – it doesn’t need to be a big or scary conversation. Sometimes it’s easiest to discuss things that are troubling you in a casual format while you’re doing another activity – for example while on a walk with a friend.
Many of us rely on alcohol to change our mood – a drink or two can tangibly lift the weight of difficult feelings like grief, anger, sadness, fear and regret in the very short term. The reality is though when the drink wears off the feelings return, and often worse than before because the alcohol has also affected your brain and body. Try to drink sensibly in general and when in periods of sadness or stress look for other ways to release tension without turning to alcohol to help.
Keep in touch
Feeling lonely or isolated can have a negative impact on our mental health. Keep the lines of communication open with family and friends. It’s not always possible to be face to face but we can still stay connected via email, telephone and post.
If you feel overwhelmed, down and take a break. A change of pace is good for your mental health and doesn’t necessarily mean you need to quit your job or stop with your hobbies. Taking a daily lunch break or a short walk to clear your head will help you manage life’s daily stresses, and slowing down and giving yourself space to rest and relax after a busy period will help ensure you’re able to cope with whatever life throws at you.
Ask for help
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Everyone sometimes feels tired and overwhelmed in life. If you’re struggling, reaching out to a trusted family member or friend and if you feel like you can’t cope don’t be scared to ask for help. If it’s getting in the way of living your life, don’t be afraid to speak up to your GP.
How do you look after your mental health? What are your top tips?