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Give Your Mental Health A Boost With These Ideas

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation”

Glenn Close

Mental health is so much more than just a diagnosis. It is your general psychological wellbeing and affects the way that you feel about yourself and others, as well as how you deal with everyday challenges.

Sometimes, bettering your mental health may mean seeking professional support for optimal health, and treatment such as counseling or medication. There are plenty of things that you can do every day to help give your mental health a boost. Even if you are feeling great and do not have any mental health issues, the following tips can help to lift your spirits and make you feel good all the time. They will help to boost your mood, build your resilience and generally add to your overall enjoyment of life.

Image credit: Pixabay CC0 License

  • Keep a gratitude journal

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough”. Aesop

Plenty of studies have shown that thinking about the good things in your life and noting down what you are grateful for can have a positive impact on your mood and overall mental health. It helps to take away the focus on materialism and bolsters generosity, particularly amongst younger people. How you do it is up to you; whether it is keeping it noted down in a journal or praying, or whether simply thinking about the good things that have happened to you.

  • Bring an animal into your life

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France

It has long been known how pets, particularly dogs, can be beneficial to mental health. They can be a massive responsibility, but knowing that you have something completely dependent on you and that loves you unconditionally in the way that only a dog does can help to take your mind off other things. If you struggle with mental health, an emotional support dog can provide you with companionship, loyalty and plenty of love. They also encourage you to go outside for fresh air and exercise, both of which can bolster your mood, and maybe even talk to fellow dog owners. 

  • Take small steps every day

“Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.” Helmut Schmidt

No one ever jumped out of bed and ran a marathon without training, so why would your mental health be any different? Small steps every single day add up, and eventually, you will run your mental marathon. Some mornings, it might be simply getting out of bed and getting dressed is your small goal, but it counts. Don’t forget to celebrate these small steps and reward yourself – and don’t rush them. Slow and steady always wins the race, as they say! 

  • Carry out a random act of kindness

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day, someone might do the same for you.” Princess Diana

Plenty of research has shown that carrying out a random act of kindness, or a RAOK as it is often commonly known as has been proven to be beneficial to mental health. Doing something with any expectation of reward helps to release oxytocin – the ‘love’ hormone, and serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ hormone. 

  • Take time to laugh

“Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy” Catherine Rippenger Fenwick

You have more than likely heard of the saying ‘laughter is the best medicine’ – and it is said for a reason. Laughter helps to relax the whole body – it can leave your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. It also decreases the stress hormones in your body and improves your immune system, while triggering the release of endorphins. It also enables you to see situations in a more realistic and less threatening perspective as it creates a psychological distance. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and diffuses conflict.

  • Write a letter

“Letter writing is an excellent way of slowing down this lunatic helter-skelter universe long enough to gather one’s thoughts” Nick Bantock

Whether you write a letter to a friend, a family member, yourself or even your emotional support dog, getting all of your feelings and emotions down onto paper can really help. You do not even have to send the letter – throw it in the fire once it is written if you want to. Writing a letter to a loved one can help you to feel more socially connected as well, which always helps to lift one’s mood.

  • Get outdoors

“Step outside for a while – calm your mind. It is better to hug a tree than to bang your head against a wall continually” Rasheed Ogunlaru

A simple walk outside, whether on the beach or through the woods or even your local park can do wonders for the soul. If you can’t get out for a walk, even sitting in your back yard with a cup of coffee in the sunshine can be just as beneficial. Stress can be relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness.

A walk in nature and fresh air also helps to improve sleep quality, which of course will have a significant effect on your overall mental health. 

  • Try something new

“You can only grow if you’re willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” Brian Tracy

Whether you realize it or not, you spend your days doing the same things that you have done hundreds, if not thousands of times before and it can be very easy to slip into a rut. It can be very rare that we try new things and new experiences just for the purpose of trying something new. However, making the effort to step out of your comfort zone and try your hand at something new can be hugely beneficial to your mental health. 

It allows you to overcome fear; you will soon begin to realize that your mind has a habit of exaggerating things, and when you begin to see past that fear, you can feel very liberated. It also gives you the chance to find out who you really are as a person and get to know yourself better. As you try more and more new things, you will naturally begin to recognize who you are and who you want to become. This will prove invaluable as the years go on.

  • Seek help when you need it

Lastly, but certainly not least, seek help as and when you need it. Many people mistakenly see asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it could not be any further from the truth. It is a show of strength and courage. Remember, mental health should be treated in the same way as physical health – if something is not quite right, medical intervention can make all the difference. 

What tips and strategies do you have in place to help to boost your mental health?

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