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Health / Mental health

How to take care of our mental health

Whether it’s the pandemic or this time of year, looking after our mental wellbeing couldn’t be more important. Here are a few ideas about how we can help ourselves:

Eat well and keep fit

When down or anxious we may naturally turn to food for comfort or the opposite may happen with a decrease in appetite. It may feel difficult to find motivation to exercise. Balance is the most important thing; we all know what a balanced diet looks like and that exercise can reduce stress and improve mood—make time to look after your physical health.

Give and accept support—make connections

Supporting other people can be incredibly rewarding but it doesn’t just go one way—accepting support is vital. It may be hard to know what you need but reaching out is the first step. Sharing with others is, not only helpful for you but connecting to others can help them too.

Nurture relationships with friends ad family—don’t take them for granted, share life’s joys and sorrows with those you love and who love you.

Manage stress

2 people holding standing yoga pose

Cortisol is our stress hormone. Usually it is released to help us cope with a peak in stress and it aids managing the stressful situation, this is no bad thing. However at times of long term stress, cortisol being released over a prolonged period leads to all sorts of side effects such as fatigue, irritability, headaches, intestinal problems, anxiety, depression, weight gain, increased blood pressure, low libido and erectile dysfunction.

Taking measures to reduce stress is vital for physical and mental wellbeing—balancing work and life, finding time for pets, for nature and hobbies can all reduce stress levels.

Build confidence

Doing the best with what we have is the key to accepting ourselves, just as we are. Don’t look to other people to improve your confidence and self-esteem, it has to come from within. We all have strengths and weaknesses, focusing on our abilities helps us feel positive about ourselves, one step at a time.

Finding contentment is a valid goal, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Being at peace with ourselves leads to better mental health.

Identify and deal with moods

Emotions are healthy, all of them, sadness, joy, fear, anger—they’re all natural and give us messages about the world. But it’s important to find healthy outlets—talk about how you feel, rant, rave, punch a pillow, do whatever you need to do to prevent feelings fester. When feelings fester they become prolonged moods and then our beliefs feed into these moods.

What are you feeling right now? Frustration, boredom, confusion? If you have trouble naming it, think about how your body is feeling, where are you experiencing you emotion? Has it been hanging there for a long time or are you able to let it go and move onto the next feeling? Feelings should naturally come and go within a few minutes—don’t let them smoulder.

Look after finances

Financial problem can cause stress. Being honest about over-spending can be hard but will help make a meaningful budget that balances needs and wants. If you need professional help, make sure you ask for it earlier rather than later. Christian Against Poverty is a great organisation for helping with all sorts of financial problems.

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