Let’s open our minds to mental health
Mental health conditions are among the leading cause of invisible disability around the world. The fact is, we have all experienced firsthand, or know someone close to us, affected by a mental health condition. Our mental health influences how we think, feel, and behave in daily life. It also affects our ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships. We all have a different capacity to cope at any given time based on personal or environmental factors. But there are plenty of things we can do to look after our own mental health.
Whether to support the management of a specific mental health condition, handle our relationships and emotions, or to simply feel more positive and energetic, looking after our mental health as a priority can help us get the most from life. Here are 10 tips to take care of your mental health and that of your loved ones, friends and colleagues.
1. Value yourself
Treat yourself with kindness and respect. And make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. For instance, do a daily crossword puzzle, meditate, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.
2. Eat well & stay hydrated
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients and fluids to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is really important for our physical and mental health. Sleep helps to regulate the chemicals in our brain that transmit information. These chemicals are important in managing our moods and emotions. Skipping even a few hours here and there can take a toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. And over the long-term, chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your health and outlook.
4. Keep active
The mind and the body are intrinsically linked. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Physical activity also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that lift your mood and provide added energy. Regular exercise or activity can promote mental and emotional health, relieve stress, improve memory, and help you to sleep better.
5. Keep in touch
No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and be your best. There’s nothing better than catching up with friends or family face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call, drop them a note, text, or chat with them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open: it’s good for you!
6. Care for others
Helping others isn’t just good for the people you’re helping; it’s good for you too. Being there for someone can help with your self-esteem and make you feel good about your place in the world. Feeling a sense of belonging in a community is crucial to your mental health. You could try volunteering for a local charity, or just being neighborly.
7. Take time to laugh
When we laugh, our bodies produce endorphins, which are considered to be the “happiness hormone”. We also release the hormones dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that are in charge of our motivation and balance our mood. All of these substances fight several mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, as well as boost your overall health and wellbeing. And the more intense the laughter is, the more it helps us keep a positive outlook on life.
8. Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five-minute pause from cleaning your kitchen, a half-hour lunch break at work, a brief meditation, a short walk outside, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
9. Manage stress
Stress is often unavoidable, but knowing what triggers your stress and knowing how to cope is key in maintaining good mental health. Try to manage your responsibilities and worries by making a list or a schedule of when you can resolve each issue. Often if you break down your worries and stresses and write them down, you realise that they are manageable. Try to avoid procrastinating and address your challenges directly.
10. Ask for help
One of the most important ways to keep yourself mentally healthy is to recognise when the difficulties you are facing are beyond the normal threshold of normal stress and when to ask for help. If you’re struggling with your mental health, and we all do from time to time, tell someone about it. There is nothing wrong with admitting you need some help, and there are plenty of people out there who understand what you’re going through and want to help you through it. Speak to your friends or family, your manager at work, contact a specialist or GP for professional support, or call Lifeline at 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support.
Remember, Sodexo employees and their immediate family also have free and confidential access to our Benestar Employee Assistance Program – chat with a trained counsellor or seek further information on wellbeing and health on BeneHub.