An important part of keeping fit and healthy is to take care of your own mental health. There are plenty of things you can do to help make sure you keep yourself mentally healthy. To mark World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October, here are our Mental Health First Aider’s 10 Top Tips:
1. Get plenty of sleep
A good sleep can help start the day off on a good footing. Make your bed so it’s ready to climb into at night and get up slightly earlier than you need to, using the extra time to have a cuppa before anyone else gets up.
2. Manage stress – easier said than done!
What’s causing the stress? Make a note each time you feel stressed and see if there’s a pattern. If there is, have a rethink about how to reduce that element and ask for help where needed. I find going to the supermarket stressful, so now I don’t. I order online!
3. Fresh air and daylight
Open a window, even on a cold day. A cuppa outside in-between rain showers, a rest break and a browse around the garden.
4. Activity and exercise
I’m no exercise bunny but I certainly feel better when I’ve had a swim! A gentle walk can give a boost to the brain chemicals that put us in a good mood, so a run, yoga, cycle, whatever takes you fancy is sure to put a smile on your face.
Helping others can be a real boost for your mental health and a boost to the mental health of those you’re helping. An hour a week is not a lot to give and there are lots of organisations and charities that would gladly find you something to do.
6. Take 10 – take 10 minutes out, when you need to
Perhaps you’ve had an emotional conversation with a client or burnt the dinner. Take 10 minutes before starting again. In those 10 minutes do something for you.
7. Develop a personal structure
I love a list, I love to plan the day, the week, the month, everything is in my diary. I have a personal structure and I know when I’m working, when I need to make early or late dinner, it even has time for me to get the washing done. Having a weekly planner can really help to see when you have time to ‘fit in’ your exercise class, your coffee with friends or that sit and do nothing!
8. Meet with others
Talk to friends and family, have a laugh! I meet with a particular friend once a month for our Sunday roast club, there are only two of us in our very exclusive club and we have a good laugh. There’s a lot to be said for camaraderie!
9. Family time
Some dedicated family time with no disruptions is important for you and for your family. Watching the school football match while taking a work call is not dedicated family time. Getting an hour’s work done on a Sunday afternoon instead of the family movie or the country walk is not going to help. Mixing the work-life balance up can cause stress not just for you but also for your family. Share some time with them and maximise that time if it’s going to be short.
10. Take a break – annual leave, we all have it
Take it, it’s yours. Make plans, take a long weekend break, book a holiday. It doesn’t matter what you do but taking a regular break from work of at least a week at different intervals throughout the year can clear your head and restart your mindset.
You don’t have to be ‘struggling’ to pick up the phone and talk to someone. If you don’t want to talk to a friend or family member about it, there are so many amazing charities and organisations that are there for you. Call Samaritans, Plymouth Options, or make contact with your GP.
Armed Forces Engagement Champion