Looking after yourself
Sometimes it can feel like we don’t have any control over what we think or how we feel. But by making simple changes to our lives, we can make a real difference to our mental health. Feeling good is worth investing in – and the best thing is that these simple tips won’t cost you much time or money.
There is increasing evidence of a link between what we eat and how we feel. This is called the ‘food – mood’ connection. How we feel influences what we choose to eat or drink and a healthy diet can protect our mental health.
- Eat breakfast everyday – it really is the most important meal of the day
- Try to have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables everyday
- Avoid excessive caffeine and high in sugar foods.
Learning to relax is a skill that requires practice. The more you practice the less time it will take to achieve a state of deep relaxation. Firstly, if you are feeling relaxed you will be able to cope with difficult situations easier. Secondly, if you learn to release anxiety at the time you feel it, through relaxation, it prevents a build-up of uncomfortable physical symptoms, thus enabling you to cope more effectively.
- Set time aside to relax
- One of the most effective and simplest techniques for reducing feelings of anxiety is learning controlled breathing
It may seem obvious that sleep is beneficial – but a good night’s sleep can really boost your mood and it allows you to concentrate and carry put your daily activities better. If you have difficulty getting to sleep at night, take a look at our top tips for getting to sleep.
- Mind clearing – imagine a black velvet theatre curtain coming down and blocking busy thoughts
- Mentally write out your worries and then slowly and deliberately wipe them off
- Lie on your back and count backwards from 100, visualising each number
- Recall the day moment to moment but in reverse: the last thing you did to getting up
The thought of exercise may not necessarily make everyone feel happy – but exercise is proven to release happy chemicals into your brain, the same chemicals that are in antidepressants. Not only is exercise good for your physical health – it is also good for your mental health.
- Aim to do at least 30 minutes exercise five days a week
- It doesn’t have to be excessive exercise – it can include walking the dog, riding your bike, skateboarding or roller-blading, walking to college instead of getting the bus, or getting off a few stops early
- You can do it as one 30-minute session, or break it up into shorter 10- or 15-minute sessions. Choose something you enjoy – if you don’t like it, you won’t stick to it. Find something that fits into your day and is right for you.
Young Minds has more information on their website about looking after your physical health and well-being. Visit Young Minds for more information.