When we feel ill, we go to the doctor, and do everything we can to feel better, whether that’s by taking medication, trying to live a healthier lifestyle, or resting up. So why don’t we do the same when it comes to our mental health?
When you’re feeling stressed and exhausted, do you dismiss it as ‘a bit of a busy time at work’ or say you’ve got a lot on but it should settle down eventually?
Meanwhile, the effects of chronic stress and anxiety will wreak havoc on your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing. It’s well known that stress can cause high blood pressure, cardiac issues, digestive problems, migraines, anxiety, depression, and more, yet many people still don’t join the dots between mental and physical ill health.
As well as affecting your physical body, your mental health can impact on everything from work to your relationships, and emotions. So it’s time to take control. Here’s how to improve your mental health in 2020.
How is your mental health?
These days everyone is juggling lots of things at once, and it can be easy to miss the signs that your mental health is not great. How is your appetite? How are you sleeping? Do you lack energy? Are you feeling tearful and/or irritable more regularly? These are all signs that your mental health might be deteriorating and that you need to take steps to improve it.
You might put feeling exhausted and stressed down to the fact that you are working hard for a promotion, or you have a busy life, but nothing is worth sacrificing your health for.
A new year, and a new decade is coming, so why not make next year the year that you pledge to look after your mental health?
How to improve your mental health in 2020
Being more aware of how mentally well you are is not just a concern for people with an existing mental health condition, it can benefit all of us. For better mental health next year, why not try:
Staying connected with others
You might want to isolate yourself if you feel stressed or low, but having meaningful connections with others is essential for your wellbeing. Think about it; it’s the connections you have with others that give your life meaning and give you the peace of mind that you have people to talk to and lean on if you need it.
Make 2020 the year that you pledge to stay connected with friends and family and open up to them if you’re struggling (as they should be able to open up to you.)
Getting a sweat on, regularly
Exercise is very beneficial for physical health and its effects on mental wellbeing can’t be underestimated. Exercise regulates mood, helps you sleep better, reduces stress, and much more. You don’t have to be Paula Radcliffe to benefit either, even a brisk 30 minute walk a few times per week can make a world of difference to your wellbeing. Choose something you enjoy so you’ll stick to it, and make 2020 the year you feel so good, you’ll wonder why you never put your trainers on before now.
Setting yourself some goals
Feeling stuck and uninspired can affect your mental health, so if you set yourself some goals going into the new year, you might just get your mojo back. Having something to work towards or aim for is important. What have you always wanted to do, but you’ve never got around to it, because life happened? Whether you want to get fit, travel more, or try a new hobby, make 2020 the year that you make it happen and start living your life with purpose.
Whether you’re feeling depressed and negative, or you’re constantly striving to achieve something, it’s easy to forget to be grateful for what you have. Try this in 2020; at the end of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for, no matter how small. I guarantee that even if you think you’ve had a bad day, you’ll be able to show gratitude for something, which will make things seem better.
Being watchful over your mental health
It’s easy to let your mental health slide when you’re really busy without you even realising. Make 2020 the year you check in with yourself, physically and mentally to gauge how things are.
Have you been doing things you enjoy or have you lost interest in them? Do you feel on edge all of the time? Are you smoking or drinking more than usual? Are you sleeping well? Are you eating more or less than usual? All of these pointers will help you keep an eye on your wellbeing and should guide you as to whether anything in your life needs to be changed.
Being mindful is not about sitting cross-legged meditating (though it can be if you wish!). Mindfulness means slowing down, being in the moment, and being aware of your thoughts. It’s a myth that it’s about stopping your thoughts, it’s not. It’s about being aware of your thoughts and where they are coming from. Being in the moment is a fabulous antidote to stress. Try focusing on your breathing just for a few minutes, and if your mind wanders, guide it gently back to your breathing.
Getting a good night’s sleep
If you’re busy (and you like a good scroll on social media), sleep might fall by the wayside. But a good night’s sleep is essential for mental and physical wellbeing. Sleep deprivation can impact negatively upon mood and energy levels, so try to introduce a routine that will help you get a restful sleep each night. Exercise through the day (not too close to bedtime), don’t eat too late or drink caffeine late in the day, keep your bedroom dark and cool, and don’t watch TV or work in bed.
Taking time out for yourself
This is so important, yet so many of us don’t do it. Whatever ‘time out’ means for you, make it a priority, whether it’s going for a massage once per month, curling up with a good book, or meeting up with a friend. Make next year the year that you choose to do things that make you feel good.
Seeking help when you’re struggling
If you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed, and it’s having an impact on your day to day life, make a pledge to speak to your GP, a good friend, a family member, or a trusted colleague. There is no shame in seeking help, in fact asking for help is a sign of strength. You’re showing that you know yourself well enough to know that all is not well.
Do you want to improve your mental health in 2020?
Whether you’ve been struggling with your own mental health, or you want to know more about it so you can help and support someone who is, educating yourself is the first step.
Our Mental Health First Aid training can help you understand some common mental health conditions and how to support someone on a first aid basis so they get the help they need a lot quicker.
Would you like to know more?
You can register your interest by using the form on our contact page. The course tutor will then get in touch with you to discuss your needs. If you’d like any more information on any of our courses, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07917062257.