Five simple steps to help you keep your mental state strong and healthy during tough times. Evidence suggests that these actions can improve your outlook and help you get the most out of life.
STEP 1: CONNECT WITH OTHER PEOPLE
Good relationships are important for your mental well-being as they:
Help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth
Give you an opportunity to share positive experiences
Provide emotional support and allow you to support others
If possible, take time to be with your family or friends each day. For example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together.
Arrange a day out with friends you haven’t seen for a while.
Try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with someone.
Have lunch with a colleague.
Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company.
Volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group.
Make the most of technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Video-chat apps like Skype and FaceTime are useful, especially if you live far apart.
STEP 2: BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, but evidence shows it can also improve your mental well-being by:
Raising your self-esteem
Helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
Causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
Find free activities to help you get fit.
If you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability.
Start running, try Couch to 5K.
Start swimming, cycling, dancing, etc.
STEP 3: LEARN NEW SKILLS
Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental well-being by:
Boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem
Helping you to build a sense of purpose
Helping you to connect with others
Even if you feel like you don’t have enough time, or that you don’t need to learn anything new, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.
Try cooking something new. Read about healthy eating and cooking tips.
Try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills.
Work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online.
Consider signing up for a course at a local college. You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing.
Try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint.
STEP 4: GIVE TO OTHERS
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental well-being by:
Giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
Creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
Helping you connect with other people
You could perform small acts of kindness towards other people, or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
Say thank you to someone for something they have done for you.
Ask friends, family, or colleagues how they are and really listen to their answers.
Spend time with friends or relatives who need support or company.
Offer to help someone you know with DIY or a work project.
Volunteer in your community, such as helping at a school, hospital, or care home.
STEP 5: PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRESENT MOMENT (MINDFULNESS)
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental well-being. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, your body, and the world around you.
Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
Set aside some quiet time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, just sit still and give yourself some time and space.
Observe the present moment without any judgements.
Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.
You can also download apps such as Headspace, Calm, Meditopia, etc. which can guide you into a state of mindfulness.
We hope these five tips will help you to cope with difficult times, but if you are struggling with mental health issues and need more help, your company’s HR department might be able to support you. You might also want to look at – NHS Mental Health and Care and Support if you or a loved one is having a hard time.