“Mental health is a combination of mental capacity, emotional state, self perception and social factors. It influences how we feel, think and act. It shapes the decisions we make, our self talk, how we live our lives and affects our physical health, self esteem, confidence, relationships, parenting, quality of life and performance.”
Hayley T Wheeler
Your mental health is a measure of your mental wellbeing, it is affected by different things in your life, it can change on a sliding scale. At one end of the scale, you’re feeling well, with high engagement in life, coping well with life’s ups and downs, making good decisions. At the other end you’re feeling unwell, with low engagement in life, poor quality of life and not feeling equipped to cope with life’s ups and downs. There are a chasm of mental health states in between as different life challenges apply different pressures. Just like physical health, mental health deserves investment, to be nurtured, supported and cared for or you may become unwell. We have learnt to support physical health with the foods we eat, movement, exercise, sleep and fluid intake. Emotional health is equally as important as physical and mental health, the three form the integral foundation of your overall health. Emotional health is having an awareness of how your emotional state impacts your thoughts and behaviours. Your mental, physical and emotional needs are as unique as you are, investment in identifying your needs is a great starting point.
Here are seven tips to support good mental health.
Take control of what you can
Taking time to focus on the things that are within your locus of control is empowering, effective and feels mighty good. The need to be in control of everything can be strong, this can be futile and harmful to your mental health. While you’re focussing on the things you can’t control, you are losing precious time. There will always be things outside of your locus of control, you can choose to waste time and energy or invest in yourself and your family.
Pick your battles
Not every battle needs to be fought. Social media in particular is a battle trap, emotions are triggered when you feel safe in your own homes and you want to have our say, you may feel entitled to argue your point. However, this can be fruitless, in fact it can make you feel worse. If you are tempted by a triggering situation, ask yourself the following questions:
Is this my battle to fight?
Do you really need to fight this battle?
What will I get out of it?
Will it make me happy?
*be aware of ‘want to win bias’ where you convince yourself it will make you happy, you may feel satisfied in the short term but not the long term.
Reconnect with yourself
You are the most important person in your life, self-knowledge is a super power, knowing yourself from the inside out is a great way to find happiness. Spending time getting to know you, your dreams, goals, likes and dislikes, helps you make better choices about what you can do to reconnect with yourself, dig deep and enjoy the process. Reignite your passion, do things that make you happy, things that make you laugh, be around people who empower you and be in places that make you feel good.
You’ve heard about mindfulness, the art of enjoying the very moment you are experiencing, engaging your senses, smell, sight, touch, sound and taste. Mindful living is living with awareness, knowing what is going on, making the right choices for you, taking action and changing or adapting as and when necessary. Mistakes and failures are better life lessons than success.
Do what makes you feel good
Think about all the things you enjoy, the things that make you smile, laugh and enjoy life and take action. When you’re not feeling yourself, it can be hard to invest time in seemingly insignificant things. The things that make you feel good are not insignificant they are necessary for your health and wellbeing.
Eat, move, sleep, repeat
Adjusting your diet, exercise and sleep are great ways to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Introduce more nutritious foods into your diet, foods that boost energy, foods that fuel your body, mind and soul. Get moving, whether full out exercise classes, yoga, running, swimming, walking or any activity in between. Consider your sleep routine, setting yourself up to sleep, most of us drag ourselves to bed at the end of a busy day and hope for the best but a good sleep routine can set you up for a good night sleep.
Are you taking the right actions for your wellbeing? Take the actions that support your mental health and wellbeing, things that relax you, things that bring you pleasure, make your time count. Taking action is a guaranteed way to see change, inaction is a guarantee of no change at all.
You know yourself best and know what you need to support your mental health and wellbeing, you know what makes you feel good, you know your life best and you know yourself better than anyone. Taking action to do the things that support and maintain your mental health and wellbeing consistently will have a better and longer-term effect.