There are a few simple steps and changes that you can implement to help improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Healthy body, healthy mind. Whilst physical activity may sometimes be a challenge due to your condition, doing even a small amount every day can really help to boost your mood and improve your mental health and wellbeing.
Physical activity is also a key component when it comes to managing your condition, helping with bone strength and muscle development, so it’s important to make time for exercise as often as you can.
Stress and poor mental health can lead a lot of people to fill their diet with unhealthy foods.
Whilst this might work to improve our mood in the short-term, seeking comfort in junk food and regularly consuming foods high in sugar, fat or sodium can have a negative impact on mental health. It can also lead to weight gain, which can place additional strain on joints and cause other health issues.
Whilst it can be challenging, especially if you often find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin when you’re stressed, keeping a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, protein, fibre and healthy carbohydrates will help to keep you in good mental and physical health.
Value yourself and others
It can be difficult to do when we feel our mental health is slipping, but reminding ourselves of our positive qualities, acknowledging our achievements, and practising self-care are all key for our wellbeing.
Just as it’s important to be kind to ourselves, it’s equally important to extend the effort and take the time to value those around us, including those in our support network of friends and family.
As mentioned in the previous section, no benefit comes from bottling things up. Poor mental health can bring up a host of emotions, from anxiety, panic and depression to anger and frustration.
Whatever you’re feeling, it’s really important to find a healthy way for you to communicate your emotions, as not doing so and keeping everything to yourself will only cause them to bubble over — at which point they’ll be even harder to understand and control.
Think about the person in your life who you’d be most comfortable sharing your emotions, stresses, challenges and concerns with, and reach out to them. Be sure to meet in a place where you’ll feel comfortable speaking about what you’re dealing with — this might be in your own home, in theirs, or even over the phone, if meeting in person is difficult to arrange.
When you’re speaking, it’s important to regularly remind yourself of where you are in the present moment, otherwise you might find your emotions running away with you. Take deep breaths and tell yourself that you are in a safe space with a person you trust. Communicate openly, but try not to take your frustrations out on your confidante.
Try something new
Trying something new can bring a sense of refreshment to our lives, as well as a sense of pride at having pushed the boat out and ventured into the unfamiliar.
The new thing you try can be pretty much anything. You might have a go at trying:
- A new recipe or cuisine
- A new route for your walk to work
- A new experience, like eating out at a restaurant you’ve never been to, taking a trip to a town you’ve never visited, or trying out a new hobby
Whatever you choose, it can be something big or something small, but it’s also a good idea to share the experience with a friend or family member.
When your mood is low, you may feel the urge to keep yourself as busy as possible as a form of distraction. Whilst staying active and being productive are both great ways to improve your mental health, it’s important not to overdo it — listen to your body and take breaks as regularly as you need to.
If switching off is something that you struggle with, try taking time out every day and making the conscious effort to relax. Practising breath work, meditation and mindfulness exercises can all help with getting you into the habit of resting.
Ask for help
If you’ve already tried a number of these solutions and still find yourself struggling with poor mental health, it’s important to reach out and ask for help.
Speak to your GP about how you’re feeling, and open up to your manager/employer about what you’re struggling with at work — they’ll be able to support you further and direct you to other resources you might not have considered.