Cultivating Good Mental Health

As awareness of mental health problems has grown, so too has the importance of cultivating good mental health. Living in a fast-paced society can make it tricky to take the time to focus on your emotional well-being but it’s essential to do so if you want to enjoy everything life has to offer.

Ignoring your mental health can lead to all sorts of problems, including anxiety, depression, phobias and isolation. By addressing any issues and practising self-care, however, you can cultivate good mental health instead.

To learn how to do this, take a look at these top tips now:

Be open and honest

Speaking freely and being honest about your feelings may not be something that comes naturally to you. In fact, hiding your feelings and not saying what you really think is amongst the top 10 Very British Things! While it’s true that Brits can find it hard to open up, we’re getting better at understanding the importance of talking about your feelings.

Whether you choose to open up to a family member or talk to a trusted friend, being honest about what’s worrying you or letting people know when they’ve upset you can be a freeing experience. Instead of bottling your feelings up, find an outlet for them and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Don’t isolate yourself

When you are feeling down or stressed, it may be tempting to steer clear of social interactions no matter how much you may have loved them in the past. However, isolating yourself is rarely a recipe for success. In fact, loneliness can be a primary cause of mental health problems and can certainly exacerbate existing mental health issues.

Make the effort to stay connected with those around you. Whether it’s a quick exchange at the water cooler at work or a message to a friend on social media, these small interactions will help you maintain your connection to the outside world and prevent you from becoming isolated.

Fuel your body

What you eat had a major impact on how your brain works and how you feel. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important to eat a healthy, nutritious and varied diet. Unfortunately, many of us turn to comfort foods when we’re feeling anxious, worried or stressed, which can exacerbate negative feelings and make us feel worse in the long run.

Understanding the impact food has on your mental health can be the first step to improving your nutrition. Once you know exactly how food affects your mental well-being, you’ll find it far easier to fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally. 

Find a hobby

When you’re bored or at a loose end, it’s easy to dwell on the more negative things in life. This can lead to unhealthy cycles and patterns of behaviour. While it’s important to address negative things in a healthy way, ruminating or excessive thinking probably isn’t going to be beneficial.

You can stop yourself from doing this by finding a hobby that you’re passionate about. Whether it’s creative, sporty or intellectual doesn’t matter; you simply need to enjoy it. From painting to rock climbing and dance to puzzle-solving, there are endless options to choose from.

Once you find your hobby, you’ll have the opportunity to turn it into a social outlet, if you choose to. You may want to join a local group, go to national events or simply engage with people online, for example. This can be a great way to expand your social circle and will give you the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people with similar interests.

Do something different

Many of us spend every day going through the same routine, so it’s not surprising we get bored and dissatisfied from time to time. If the daily grind is getting you down, do something different and enjoy a change of scenery.

While a holiday or mini-break might be at the top of your list, you don’t have to wait until your annual vacation to do something different. Try something new for breakfast, go somewhere different on your lunch break, even heading to a different park with your family can be a great way to incorporate some variety into your day.

Get more exercise

When you’re feeling down, hitting the gym or going for a run might be the last thing you feel like doing. However, exercise is known to have a positive effect on your mental health. As well as boosting your physical health, exercise causes the body to release ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These can help you to feel calmer, happier and more positive, which is why exercise is such an important method of self-care.

Set realistic goals

Many people assume that they need to transform their entire lifestyle in order to cultivate good mental health. If this works for you, then it’s certainly something to consider. However, you don’t have to make major changes in order to start improving your mental health.

In general, setting small but achievable goals is more effective in the long-term. The consistent positive reinforcement when you hit your targets will ensure you stay motivated and continue to build healthy habits.

If you don’t currently do any exercise, set yourself a target of going for a ten-minute walk every day, for example. Alternatively, make reaching out to a friend once a day your next target. Before you know it, these behaviours will be ingrained in your day-to-day life and you’ll be boosting your mental health without even realising it.

Ask for Help When You Need It

One of the most important ways to cultivate good mental health is to ask for help when you need it. Talking to your GP, a therapist or counsellor can help you to identify when you feel overwhelmed or out of your depth. With the right support, you can access a range of treatments and find coping strategies that help you to live a healthier, more fulfilling and more enjoyable life.

©FM