The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope when life is stressful, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.
Research demonstrates that good mental health is often associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, better relationships, as well as improved physical health.
However, mental health is complex, as while someone might not be experiencing a mental health condition (e.g. anxiety, depression) that doesn’t necessarily mean that their mental health is flourishing.
According to Beyond Blue, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy –- and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.
Taking stock of your mental health might mean re-evaluating some lifestyle choices and making positive steps towards mental health.
If you think you need to take stock of your mental health, here are four areas that you can focus on:
- Being active is great for your physical health and fitness, and evidence shows that it can also improve your mental wellbeing.
- Physical activity can help people with mild depression as well as anxiety, by causing chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.
- However, being active doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in the gym or doing vigorous activity, if that doesn’t appeal to you. Find physical activities that you enjoy and think about how to fit more of them into your daily life.
- Although we aren’t aware of it, our brains undertake numerous essential functions (that only occur while we sleep) such as the consolidation of memories, as well as processing the emotions we experience during the day. However, not getting enough sleep or experiencing interrupted sleep means not allowing our brain to do these important tasks, and more importantly, can cause impairment to mental health.
- Consider the following to improve your sleep – keep to a routine, avoid blue light as well as keep dim/low levels of light at night & experience bright/daylight first thing in the morning/middle of the day, reduce or eliminate alcohol intake, exercise (but not too close to sleep time) and avoid caffeine.
Have a balanced nutritional intake
- Recent evidence suggests that a good, balanced nutritional intake is essential for our mental health and that it’s possible several mental health conditions may be influenced by dietary factors. With so much conflicting advice available online and in a rapidly emerging research area, ensure that adequate nutrition and hydration is in line with guidelines and recommendations by authoritative sources such as a qualified Dietitian or credible online information/resources.
- Evidence shows that good relationships – with family, friends and our wider communities – are important for our mental health and wellbeing.
- Having strong and wide connections can help us feel happier, provide security and give us a purpose.
- There are lots of ways to build stronger and closer relationships e.g. taking time each day to be with your family, setting time to spend with friends you haven’t seen for a while, switching off the screens and play a game/talk with your children/partner, speaking to someone new, sharing a meal with a work-mate, visiting a friend or family member who needs support or volunteering to do something positive in the community etc.
If you think you need more support or feel a little stuck, please feel free to contact us here at Attuned Psychology and one of our experienced Psychologists can support you to help with your mental health.
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