Improve Mental Wellbeing and Look After Yourself
Good mental health isn’t something you have, but something you do. To be mentally healthy you must value and accept yourself. If you don’t value and accept yourself, you are always frightened that other people will reject you. If you value and accept yourself, you are able to relax and enjoy yourself, without guilt. When you face a crisis, you know that, no matter how difficult the situation is, you will manage. How we see ourselves is central to every decision we make. People who value and accept themselves cope with life.
What causes our mental distress is not loss, poverty, sickness, or people treating is badly. It’s our interpretation of our loss and our reaction to that interpretation.
How To Look After Yourself
To look after yourself means examining your present way of life and assessing how you can make improvements if needed. There are various ways of doing this:
- Work out which situations, people, activities and environment damage or improve your physical and mental health. If there are things you can’t change remember, it’s not what happens to us that causes our distress, but how we interpret what happens to us.
- Decide to make some changes by altering or eliminating what you feel is damaging you.
- Concentrate on, and add to, the positive things in your life. Be aware of how you talk to yourself. Replace the hurtful, critical things you say with kind positive things. Practice saying encouraging things to yourself.
- Take into account and balance the many important parts of your life so that you don’t feel pulled in different directions.
This does not guarantee a problem free life. However, it may lead you to be more aware when things are beginning to go wrong and how you can best cope with them. Even if nobody else is looking after you, you can look after yourself.
How can I improve my ability to cope & look after my mental health?
Some people are afraid of being overwhelmed by their emotions. And yet, crying, when someone dies, for example, is part of the body’s natural way of allowing our feeling of grief to leave us. Talking to someone you trust about what upsets you or makes you feel stress is a useful way to let off steam, and often helps us to reduce stress. This can simply mean a supportive chat, over a cup of tea, with a friend or colleague or a support group, where people with similar problems meet regularly to talk about the problems that affect them or a counselling / psychotherapy session, which can help resolve some underlying conflicts you may have.
It stands to reason that when you are tired, everything becomes difficult and even the simplest of decisions or tasks can seem impossible to deal with. Regular bedtimes, good diet, enough exercise, less caffeine and techniques for reducing stress and anxiety are all thought to aid good sleep. Health professionals stress that to eat healthily and sensibly means concentrating on fibre-rich foods (like wholemeal bread or baked potatoes), fresh fruit and vegetables and lean fish or meat. NHS 24 provides information on healthy living including material on stopping smoking, alcohol and drug use. Being overweight is another health risk, which you may want to tackle as a way of improving both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Exercise can make you feel relaxed, stretched and energised. It has beneficial effects on the heart, helps you to reduce anxiety and depression, lose weight and feel fitter. Vigorous activity stimulates the body into releasing endorphins, the body’s natural antidepressants. Aerobic exercise(which raises the pulse rate) is well praised as a stress antidote. A minimum of 10 minutes a day spent walking, swimming, playing racket games, cycling or taking exercise classes is all you need. For maximum benefit to your general health, increase the daily dose to 20 or 30 minutes. Consult your Doctor before embarking on a new exercise programme.
Relaxation is also important as it allows the body and mind time to relax and recuperate from the effects of everyday activity and stress. Taking time to soak in a bath, listen to music, walk in the park, spend time on a favourite hobby can all help you to wind down and recover from the day. See the Relaxation page for some examples of how to relax.
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