Having good mental health and mental wellbeing is important because it impacts our thoughts, behaviours and emotions. Having good mental wellbeing has a huge number of benefits including promoting productivity and effectiveness in activities in work, school or our homelife.
Everyday life stresses often make looking after our wellbeing a struggle and so it is important we put plans in place to keep us on the straight and narrow (positive wellbeing speaking!) The NHS have a 5 step guide to support positive mental wellbeing which I love and want to share with you below with practical ideas to support you making positive changes.
1. Connect with Other People
Connecting with others and forming good relationships, with family, friends and the wider community, are important for mental wellbeing.
Building stronger, broader social connections in your life can:
- Increase your feelings of happiness and self-worth
- Provide emotional support and let you support others
- Give you a chance to share positive experiences
How can we connect with others?
- Take time each day to be with your family. Why not try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together or play a game together?
- Arrange a coffee break, lunch or days out with friends you haven’t seen for a while
- Try switching off the TV or putting phones away to talk or play with your children, friends, or family
- Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
- Volunteer at a local school, hospital or community group
- Use technology like FaceTime or Zoom to stay in touch with friends and family.
Try not to rely purely on social media or phones/computers to build relationships. Text, messaging or emailing people alone does not support your positive wellbeing, face to face contact and talking does.
2. Be Physically Active
Physical activity has a huge potential to improve our mental wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking has been proved to increase our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Being physically active can:
- Raise your levels of self -esteem
- Help you set goals and achieve them
- Cause chemical changes in your brain which positively change your mood
How can we be more physically active?
- Think of free activities you can do to get fit. Maybe walking, running, climb stairs instead of using a lift, playing games in the park with your kids, do home exercises, follow free youtube exercise programmes.
- Take part in a couch to 5k programme
- Find your nearest swimming pool, dance class, places to go cycling
Don’t feel that you must spend hours in a gym. Find activities you enjoy, and you are more likely to be able to make them part of your life
3. Learn New Skills
Studies have shown how learning new skills and gaining new knowledge can help us to have a greater sense of hope and purpose in life.
Learning new skills can:
- Increase your self-confidence and your self-esteem
- Increase your levels of motivation in life
- Help you connect with others
Learning doesn’t have to mean a huge time commitment. You could:
- Learn to cook something new
- Start a DIY project at home and learn a skill doing it
- Try a new hobby which challenges you
- Listen to a podcast about an area you are interested in
Learning does not have to be about gaining a qualification or studying for exams if you don’t want it to. Find something that interests you to ensure it support your wellbeing.
4. Give to Others
By giving to others, we strengthen relationships and strengthen our own wellbeing.
Giving to others can:
- Make you feel more positive and give you a sense of reward
- Give you a feeling of purpose and self-worth
- Help you connect with others
Giving to others is about small acts of kindness. You could do things like:
- Ask friends and family around you how they are and really listen
- Spend time with friends who need support
- Visit an elderly neighbour and have a conversation
- Volunteer a few hours of your time to help in your local community
5. Pay Attention to the Present
Life goes by in a blur for us a lot of the time. By trying to live in the present more you are likely to improve your mental wellbeing.
Living in the present is often called mindfulness. Taking time to breath, savouring the moment rather than worrying about past actions or what could happen in the future and letting go in general of worry are all ways of paying attention to the present and improving your mental wellbeing.
For more hints and tips on how to be mindful have a look at this nhs link: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/self-help/tips-and-support/mindfulness
So… with these five steps in mind, I put it to you, can you do anything to improve any of these five areas in your own life? What can you do to improve your own mental wellbeing?
I am running my next First Aid for Mental Health distance learning course on Tuesday 5th October at 9:30am. If you are interested in learning more about supporting the mental health of those around you or would like to discuss running a private course for your business or team, please pop me a message, I would love to chat; firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally, if you are worried about your own mental health, maybe thinking you don’t feel like your ‘usual’ self, please don’t be afraid to talk. Confide in a loved one/friend if you can and see your GP for support. There is someone out there wanting to talk to you.