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When you are struggling with mental health, it’s hard to enjoy life, conduct simple tasks, and you are likely taking part in self-sabotaging behaviors. It doesn’t have to be the end of the road, as there are plenty of small things you can do to help yourself and boost your mental wellbeing. It has been a tough couple of years for everyone. With the fear and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a record number of people suffering with anxiety, depression, and drug abuse.
Here are some top tips to help you look after your mental wellbeing, or even pass them on to a friend or family member who you are concerned about.
#1 Stay connected with others
It’s difficult to maintain a social life during the pandemic, let alone when you are struggling with your mental health as well. However, social connection is vital for your mental wellbeing. See if you can find a friend or family member that you can stay in regular contact with, whether that is for a short walk in a local park, a quick text conversation, or an evening video call.
If you find it difficult to make conversation, you could always play a game or watch a television show together. Make sure you stay in touch with someone that you feel comfortable with and can trust. Friends keep you grounded, and provide you with a sense of belonging and purpose.
#2 Review your daily habits
More often than not, your daily habits can have an enormous impact on your mental health. If you find you are living a sedentary lifestyle, eating junk food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and reaching for substances to relax, then it might be time to break this cycle of self-sabotage.
Starting with one small task, see where you can change your day, and slowly build up from there. For example, for the first few weeks, you might start the day with a warm bowl of porridge and a glass of water, and a few weeks later, you may incorporate a short walk at lunchtime. Exercise, nutrition, and good habits are great ways to boost your mental health, mood, and energy.
#3 Get outside
Whether it is 5 minutes or an hour, it is a great idea to take a little space outside. Whatever time you can spare, or whatever you have the energy for, just a little time in nature has been shown to improve your mood, improve your physical health, reduce stress and anger, help you feel more relaxed, and improve your confidence. If you find walking boring, then you might listen to music or a podcast, meet up with a friend, take a neighbor’s dog for a walk, join a walking group, or go for a bike ride.
#4 Experiment with tasks and activities
It is likely that you are spending more time at home, or alone, whether that is because of isolation, working from home, or feeling too low and fatigued to spend time with others. It is therefore important that you find something, perhaps a task, activity, or a hobby, that you can do to pass the time. This is a great way to distract you and reduce the time you are sitting doing nothing. When you are not busy, you are likely to go through cycles of bad thoughts or reach for substances.
#5 Learn coping mechanisms
Coping mechanisms are a set of tools that you can lean on when you are feeling stressed, anxious, low, or overwhelmed. They are a great way to break the cycle you are in and use a positive alternative to dealing with your problems as they arise, and benefit your mental health in the long run. Some of the most popular coping mechanisms people use are; going to the gym, going for a walk, yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation. Each person may have a different coping mechanism depending on what works for them. However, if you’ve experienced loss recently, it is important to do whatever you need to do to feel better, because the worst thing you can do is ignore your feelings. Whether you want to look at bronze grave markers for your loved one, or start a journal to express your emotions, understand that the sooner you cope with your emotions by whatever means necessary, the sooner you can get back to living your best and healthiest life.
#6 Seek professional support
Seeking professional support is one of the best ways you can help yourself and your mental wellbeing. There are a wide variety of support routes you can take, and will entirely depend on where you are located, what is accessible to you, your budget, your preferences, your struggles, and so on.
If you are unsure of which support option you should seek, you can speak to a medical professional or your family doctor, who will assess your needs and refer you accordingly. Some available options are; talking therapy, alcohol and drug rehab, medication, and support groups.
When you are struggling with your mental health, you must take steps to help yourself by changing your daily habits and reaching out for help.