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Mental Health Week: Protecting and maintaining mental health

Posted on the 19th May 2023

Protecting Mental Health

The last few years have seen a welcome increase in awareness of the importance of mental health and the value of protecting it.

Looking after our mental health should be viewed as an essential activity and, while a two-week yoga retreat in Bali would work wonders, there are practical, cost-effective activities we can all embrace and enjoy.

At their core, they all involve three basic elements: looking after and connecting to our bodies, connecting to other humans, and connecting to the world around us.

Small steps, big changes

The links between mental health and exercise are well-documented but that doesn’t mean you need to start signing up for ultramarathons just yet.

Indeed, gentle exercise such as walking has been found to be very effective for a variety of health conditions, with fresh air playing a key role in boosting mood and reducing stress and anxiety.

Make time for ‘me’ time

It seems like simple advice, but it is vital to make time for hobbies and the things we enjoy doing, even if it is just enjoying some chocolate in the bath.

Look after your body

Physical health boosts mental health. We can help ourselves by:

  • Eating nutritious food
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing alcohol intake
  • Increasing water intake
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep daily

Good vibes only

Negativity is contagious and should be avoided where possible.

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network.

Make plans with supportive family members and friends or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

Get some new skills

Learning something new or accomplishing a challenge is great for improving self-esteem and confidence. Websites like Skillshare have thousands of hands-on online courses.

Do something new

Routine builds consistency but sometimes we just need to break the monotony and do something different.

Before you sell the house and move to Peru, you could start small by changing your walking route or trying a new dish in your favourite restaurant.

Change doesn’t have to be big to have an impact.

Help others

Sometimes looking outwards can be the perfect antidote to focusing on our own worries and stresses.

Volunteering is a great way to share your skills and insights and help others in need. It is also a great way of meeting new people and improving social interactions.

Deal with stress

Nobody likes it but we can’t avoid it, stress is a part of life.

Coping skills make a huge difference in how we deal with it and overcome it.

From exercise to a walk, or even just stroking the cat, coping with stress is essential.

Find some one-minute stress strategies here.

Be realistic

We all want to aim high and do our very best, but sometimes we just can’t achieve as much as we would like it.

Don’t over-schedule or over-promise. Instead, decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals.

Ask for help

Realizing we need help and asking for it is a sign of true inner strength.

Awareness of the importance of mental health has never been as prominent and a range of organizations and support agencies are available to provide support when it is needed.

Related: Make some 'Time to Talk' about mental health

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