Your mental health matters. We all have minds, just as we have bodies, so taking care of your mental health is just as crucial as taking care of your physical health.
Mental health needs to be treated with parity and discussed. One adult in six has a common mental health condition, nearly 8% of people in Britain suffer from anxiety and depression, and it’s the cause of 20% of days absent from work.
Taking positive steps for your own mental wellbeing – or mental wealth – does not just enhance your life, but can be shared with others. For although we cannot control everything life throws at us and the stresses which arise, what we can have control over is our outlook and how we move forward.
1Talk about your feelings
We may be in an age where so many people are connected – often by phone, text message, social media – but a lot of interactions tend to be social, rather than personal and it’s easy to feel alienated. Talking about your feelings is a sign of strength and can help you deal with problems you have been carrying. There’s always someone to talk to about feelings – whether online through a mental health service like Mind or Samaritans, checking out an anonymous blog site like Cathartic or even over a helpline. But the people in your life, friends and family, will most likely be glad to hear your feelings. It may even surprise to you. Opening up your feelings to someone else often leads to them saying how much they wanted to talk too.
Keeping active releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical in your brain, and helps lift your mood. It can be whatever activity you like. It doesn’t have to mean intense exercise. Even walking some of the distance to work can boost your self esteem and have you fuelled up for the day, though if you like sport or the gym, that is great too. Keeping active is all about integrating physical activity you enjoy into your day, from swimming and cycling to gardening and walking. With experts recommending 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week, you have plenty of space to be inventive. Give it a go and feel the difference.
3You don’t have to be ‘happy’
There is no such thing as ‘happy’. It is an impossible term to pin down, and its definition changes depending on the people you are with and the situation you are in. In trying to chase ‘happy’, you can lose view of what you really need. Whilst ‘happiness’ often depends on the views and judgements of other people, a positive step instead is to take decisions based on what you feel drawn to, enthused by, interested in. Do what you enjoy – and if you don’t really know what you enjoy, that means even more excitement in exploring.
4Release your potential
We live in a society which seems to say ‘but you can always do more’. So often people seem overstretched, under pressure, put through increasing demands. But where this mantra applies, is that ‘you can always do more’ to release your potential. You are capable of so much more than you may first think. This involves acting for you first and foremost – not anyone else. For example, learning a new skill. Learning a new skill gives a real sense of achievement and it makes you part of a positive process too. Ever seen something you think looks tricky but you’ve always fancied – like playing a certain musical instrument, cooking, a new hobby? Things look difficult from a distance, but getting close and giving it a try can lead to great rewards.
Your everyday experiences matter. Even just the present moment can really be a present – like a gift. Experiencing the value of moments in time can make you feel calmer in the world around you. Think about your immediate situation. Pay attention to your individual senses – the feel of the chair at your back, the motion of one foot in front of the other if you are walking around. All are intricate, valuable experiences in themselves and paying attention to this can seem to slow things down. This is known as mindfulness and can help you approach challenges in a different way and take the positive from each experience you have. A common mindfulness exercise is to consider your individual senses whilst pouring and drinking a glass of water – or perhaps a brew, if you’re from Manchester.