*The author of this article is not a medical professional and we would therefore encourage any readers who are struggling with their mental health to seek help via a medical professional or the charity CALM. Their contact details are at the bottom of the article*
Mental Health Awareness Week reminds us all to put our feelings and emotions at the top of our priority list, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on our current lifestyle and make necessary adaptations if we need to. For some people, this week will simply be a quick reflection of “I feel great and am on the right track”, for others it will be a chance to go back to the drawing board and work out how they can become happier… for those in the latter, this blog is for you and I hope it helps.
- Have a social media refresh
You are a reflection of your surroundings, meaning that over time the content you consume has the ability to change you. Make sure your change is a positive one, do not let online negativity and abuse get you down – simply unfollow, mute, and stop engaging. Social media is an awesome way to connect, learn and laugh, so make sure that you are in control of your feed, don’t let your feed control you. On top of that, make sure to engage and follow accounts that do make you happy, show the platforms exactly what you want to see more of.
- Take on an active hobby
Exercise makes your body release feelgood chemicals, which can help to reduce stress and depression, meaning it is an amazing thing to add into your diary. Do not be put off by one type of exercise, because there are plenty of options to choose from, with the best advice being to have a look at what’s going on in your local community and try things out. 5-a-side football, walking football, going to the gym, going for a walk, exercise can be in any form and the most important thing is consistency. You are more likely to stick at something if you enjoy it, so make having fun the priority and the benefits will soon follow. Moving your body, relaxes your mind.
- Only compare yourself against the old YOU
In its simplest form… there are no enemies, no opponents and no obstacles. You are competing against yourself. Life is not about winning against each other; it’s about being better than you were yesterday. Don’t compare your behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels.
- Talk and share
Try not to bottle things up. Find people who you trust, be it a family member, friend or professional, who you can share your thoughts and feelings with openly. A lot of the time you will be surprised at how many similarities you have with people, even the things that you think nobody will understand. Awareness is the first step towards a solution.
- Challenge yourself to think differently
Retraining your brain is not easy, but if you were trying to convince somebody to bike into work instead of driving, you would probably tell them to simply try it out for themselves and see how they feel from it. Tackling your mindset is exactly the same, advice can come from all angles but the only way to ever know if something can work for you, is to simply try it. If you seek validation before posting on social media, challenge yourself to see what happens when you post without asking for reassurance first. If deciding what to have for dinner feels stressful, challenge yourself to go with the first thing that comes into your head for 2 days of the week. Whatever makes you feel anxious, come up with a challenge against that cycle and see what happens. If you feel better from it, then you know that you can continue to practice it, until it becomes normal. Anything that doesn’t work, you can simply cross off and know that you tried.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to improve your mental health, but it is to be hoped that a combination of these relatively easy techniques, should enable you to see a positive transformation in the way you feel. Good luck!
You can contact the CALM helpline between 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year or if you are in need of text-based support, you can use their webchat facility.
CALM helpline numbers:
Nationwide – 0800 58 58 58 | London – 0808 802 58 58
Webchat available at thecalmzone.net