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5 Proactive Ways to Support Your Mental Health
With so much happening in the world over the past few months, I don't think I'm alone in finding it challenging - bringing higher levels of stress and anxiety coupled with feelings of fear or hopelessness. To help support your mental wellbeing, I've put together some simple tips on ways to support your mind as well as your body.
1. Exercise and get active
Regardless of age, there’s strong scientific evidence to show that physical activity can help us to live happier, healthier and longer lives. As well as helping us to achieve the common goals of losing fat, toning up and building muscle, regular exercise also lowers the risk of developing many long-term (chronic) conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Exercise can have a great impact on your mental wellbeing too - a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine found that even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood. Studies also show that staying active can help to lower the risk of depression and dementia by approximately 20% to 30%, according to a report by Sport England.
If you'd like somewhere to start, take a look at My Self-Care Sanctuary for a 7 day free trial, including a range of yoga classes with different focuses to help you move your body and unwind your mind.
2. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
What we eat really can impact how we feel, not just physically but mentally too. Take a look at this video from Mind to find out more:
The next time you’re craving your favourite takeaway or throw-in-the-oven meal, why not try some healthier alternatives, such as baked veggie fries instead of chips or fruity frozen protein yoghurt instead of ice cream? You may find you like them better and your body will certainly thank you for the extra nutrition and reduced health risks!
3. Connect with others
Our social wellbeing is vital in supporting positive mental health. Having a support network around you of people you can talk to when things get tough, as well as when you want to celebrate the positives, is a great way to support your whole-person wellbeing. The health advantages of having close friends and family have been well documented, with one study even showing that stronger social relationships can help us to live longer. Give a friend a call, talk a walk with a loved one or sit down for a nice family meal this week - your mind will thank you for it.
4. Get plenty of sleep
According to mental health charity Mind, there's a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health, creating a potential negative cycle.
There are plenty of ways to support a healthy sleep routine, including taking a bath an hour before bed, reading instead of watching television, and setting regular sleep and wake times - you could even try one of our sleep sessions over on My Self-Care Sanctuary.
5. Ask for help
Sometimes chatting to a friend can be a great way to support your mental health and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, and sometimes more support is required. If you broke your leg you’d speak to a medical professional and get support - so why should it be any different for your mental health? There are plenty of free services available to help you navigate difficult times - call your GP, contact a national support line like the Mind infoline (0300 123 3393) or find local mental health charities through Hub of Hope. Whatever you’re going through, the support you need is out there.