Sponsored post | Too many of us think our physical health is all that matters and tend to overlook our psychological or mental health, when the truth is, they go hand-in-hand. Being mentally healthy doesn’t mean you have a diagnosis. So today we have tips for greater mental health. It’s more than that – it’s our overall feeling of psychological wellbeing; how we feel about ourselves, our family and friends, and how we deal with the stresses and strains of everyday life. If you’re one of the many Australians who find it hard to cope, seeking professional support as part of taking care of your mental health is wise. There are also ways you can take care of your emotional health yourself as well as following the advice of a professional.
1. Make Your Self-Talk Positive
What you tell yourself – even those tiny thoughts at the back of your mind that you barely notice – can affect how you feel about yourself, which affects your mental state. Research(1) reveals these nagging thoughts, and negative self-talk are powerful, so imagine if you turn it around and start saying nice things about yourself? When we see our lives and ourselves as negative, it colours how we feel about ourselves and our world. So rather than saying ‘I’m no good at interviews so I won’t get the job’ say for example: ‘I can do the job, so I’ll do the best I can and hope I’m chosen’.
2. Gratitude and Mindfulness
Another powerful way to boost good feelings about yourself is acknowledging your gratitude, and the best way of doing this is to keep a journal and list the things you are grateful for each day. It’s the regular practice of this that brings the greatest benefit, so bask in gratitude and let the warm feelings grow. Being mindful, or functioning in the present, is beneficial as well. While it’s impossible to forget the pain of the past, just let it take a back seat while you focus on what you’re doing. You might be picking a bunch of flowers, or having a shower, whatever you’re doing, focus only on that. Be aware of the sounds, tastes, smells, and your surroundings.
During exercise your body releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that help reduce stress. Endorphins boost your mood, so try to add some physical activity to your day, even if it’s in small ways, and get out in the sunlight. Your body produces Vitamin D when it gets enough sunlight, and this vitamin in turn helps to increase serotonin in the brain. So climb the stairs rather than taking the lift, go for a stroll in the sun rather than sitting at home. The most benefit is gained from at least half an hour of physical activity a day, and spending time in nature relieves stress.
4. Eat Nutritious Food
Include nutritious food such as fruit and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and oily fish in your diet to help you improve your physical and mental health. Try to get your protein from fish and plants and choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, rather than saturated or animal fats. These foods are rich in health-giving ingredients like antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and B vitamins which support brain health. So, choose green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, berries, walnuts, and would you believe it, tea and coffee in moderation. Your hair will shine, and your skin will glow!
5. Good Sleep Habits
It’s well known that lack of sleep or an unhealthy sleep pattern can have a negative effect on a person’s mental and physical health. So try to cultivate healthy sleep habits such as not doing anything stimulating like watching TV or gaming an hour before bedtime. Also, get into a healthy bedtime routine, so your body knows it’s time for sleeping. Go to bed at the same time if possible, and as part of your routine shut down the computer, dim lights, have a cup of warm milk (never drink coffee or tea before bed) or have a hot shower. Never have a TV in your bedroom and only use the bed for sleeping in, never for playing games on your mobile – which should be left out of the room and switched off.
Forever the Wanderer is a website devoted to blogs on travel and mental health designed by Anne Carty who lives in New Zealand. She wants to travel the world, inspire people to travel, create memories and talk about mental health to help others who might feel they are alone to open up about their difficulties and struggles with life and mental illness.
If this article has raised any mental health issues and you need help, call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.