Looking after your mental health has never been so important, especially in these testing times. This guide will take you through nine simple ways to look after your mental health.

How common are mental health problems in the UK?

Several studies show that in England, 1 in 4 people suffer from some kind of mental health problem each year. This means that in any given week, 1 in 6 people will experience anxiety, depression, and other common mental health issues. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Mixed anxiety and depression: 8 in 100 people
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): 6 in 100 people
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): 4 in 100 people
  • Depression: 3 in 100 people
  • Phobias: 2 in 100 people
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): 1 in 100 people
  • Panic disorder: fewer than 1 in 100 people

Look after your mental health by following these tips

Below is some actionable advice on how to improve your mental health. These simple changes are practical and will not cost you lots of time and resources.

1. Stay active

One of the best ways to take care of your mental health is by staying active. Exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Keeping yourself active also helps you sleep and think better.

Staying active is not just about going to the gym and lifting weights, it can be as simple as tending your garden, doing household chores, or taking a walk. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of activity, 5 days a week, to improve your overall well being.

2. Seek help

Many people keep their issues to themselves, not realising the negative impact this can cause.

Ask for help when you can’t bear the burden anymore. Consider joining a support group, working with a counsellor or reaching out to a close friend. If you are experiencing severe negative thoughts, visit your GP.

3. Serve others

If you are suffering from mental health issues, why not share your skills and expertise with others through service? There are lots of local charities who are constantly looking for volunteers. Helping others takes your mind off your problems and makes you feel valued and needed. This in turn increases your self-esteem, making you feel good.

Serving others also opens doors for new friendships which can serve as your support system.

4. Take a break

Another great way to take your attention off destructive thoughts is by taking a break from whatever you are doing. Take a few minutes to de-stress. Take a deep breath and just be in the moment. One may find peace in yoga or meditation while another might enjoy spending time with nature. Some people also find peace by just sitting near the window and letting their thoughts wander.

Whatever your definition of taking a break is, do it!

5. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings

Remember that talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. It shows that you are taking charge of your mental well-being --- not the other way around. Talking about your feelings with a trusted friend or professional will remind you that you aren’t alone.

Talking about your mental health problems to others may feel awkward at first. But give it time and it will eventually develop into a healthy conversation. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Use as many words as needed. Let it out.

6. Do something you enjoy

Another simple way to improve your mental health is by doing something you enjoy. Doing something that interests you helps beat stress and keeps your mind focused.

7. Keep in touch with others

Find time to nurture your relationships despite your busy schedule. Remember that strong family ties and supportive friends can be a great help. Your conversations with them will remind you how loved you are.

This tip goes both ways. Invest in relationships that make you feel good. Don’t be afraid to cut ties with toxic people.

8. Eat and drink responsibly

What you eat and what you drink will have an impact on your mental health. Pay close attention to the types of food and drink you are putting in your body.

Alcohol, caffeine and sugar might make you feel food, but these effects are just temporary. When the effect wears off, you’ll end up wanting more --- increasing your risks of gaining weight and developing diseases. Instead of alcohol, caffeine and sugar, enjoy a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grain, dairy, fish, and lots of water.

9. Accept who you are

Another simple way to take care of your mental health is by accepting who you are and stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique and special in your own way. You have your own set of strengths to capitalize on and sets of weaknesses that make you, you.

Be proud of who you are. Don’t be afraid to meet new people, learn new skills, or visit new places. The world is big! There’s so much to explore.