We should be as careful with our mental health as we are with our physical wellbeing.
Over the course of our lives, we’ll suffer many physical ailments, some more serious than others. The same goes for mental health. We go through ups and downs in our lives, periods of stress, fatigue and emotional distress.
Yet, many people allow physical wellbeing to take precedence over mental fitness. This shouldn’t be the case – because to be truly healthy you need to be well in mind and body.
So what can we do to look after our mental health? There are 7 areas we can address as part of a holistic mental health-care regime, which can be practiced every day at work, or just in life generally.
Let’s take a look.
20-25% of our fuel (what we eat and drink) goes to fuel our brain. What we eat has a huge impact on our ability to think clearly, stay positive and not get too caught up in negative thoughts/ It affects our energy levels, emotional intelligence – everything.
Take a proper lunch break and eat a well-balanced meal to support your ability to work well.
we all need to exercise regularly, not just to keep in physical shape but also to keep in mental shape. It’s free and its something you can do today to boost your mood. Why not take a brisk walk during lunch? A breath of fresh air can boost your mood and clear the cobwebs, which means you’ll be able to concentrate better.
Sleep is essential to our mood and wellbeing, if you are struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep I recommend trying a Sleep Meditation (there are 1000’s free online). Listen every night as you go asleep for 6 weeks and you will have trained your mind to relax. Get a more refreshing sleep and you’ll feel the benefits right through the day.
There’s huge evidence to show the benefits of a daily meditation practice. Even 10 minutes a day can make the vital difference.
Join a local class and give it a fair go. Most people find it quite difficult to get into the practice so having a good teacher can really help.
During your workday, stop regularly and take a moment just to breathe, stretch, and switch your attention to your senses. For instance; become aware of your feet on the ground, body temperature, sensations, look around, listen to sounds – just be present.
Make time to connect with other people. Real people, face to face. Connection is a basic human need and without it we start to crack up. Relationships are key to our long-term happiness and longevity; so take time to invest in your relationships with time and effort. Trust me, you’ll reap the rewards.
6. Social support
With a world population of 8 billion plus, we’re not born to be hermits. We all go through tough times – so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable makes us more approachable and gives the message to others that it’s ok for them to do the same when they need help.
Talk to a friend, a colleague, a doctor, a therapist. Don’t suffer alone. Many workplaces now have Mental Health First Aiders, or may have an EAP service with free counseling. Use the supports that are there for you.
7. Work-life boundaries
Try to keep to your recommended work hours. Its important that we have boundaries around our time so we have clear time off, otherwise the brain is switched on all the time and we end up stressed and burned out.
Switch off your work phone at home. Don’t look at emails. Turn off notifications. Schedule time for exercise and for fun and other non-work related living! Funnily enough, this will actually help your work performance too!
Make your mental health an every-day concern.
We brush our teeth every-day because failing to do so will have a negative result overtime. Mental health is the same. It only takes a small effort to make mental healthcare part of our daily lives. So take a moment each day to check in with yourself and make sure you’re taking measures to be well in your mind.
The actions outlined in this article are daily activities we may already take for granted, and ones that also promote physical health and wellbeing. But if you feel some are missing it’s time to make some small changes to make sure your daily lifestyle supports mental fitness.