How to Look After Your Mental Health

Written by Elly McGuinness

Share this article

Good mental health is just as important as physical health. These areas of health are inextricably linked and can directly impact each other. While mental health can seem more complicated, several simple factors can positively influence it. 

Looking after your mental health doesn’t mean that you will never feel down. It is normal for humans to experience a full spectrum of emotions and experience periods where certain emotions are dominant. However, when you have a good sense of mental wellbeing, you will feel more positive with a better capacity to cope with life’s challenges.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has identified five action steps to improve personal wellbeing. These are:

  1. Connect
  2. Be active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

We will address some of these in this article, where we offer our best tips for mental wellbeing. The following advice may not be helpful for anyone with severe mental illness. Please consult with a professional for further advice.

Connect with others

Connection with others is crucial on many levels. It helps you build healthy relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and the wider community. When you feel connected, you will be more likely to tap into support networks for help when you need it.

Connections with others help you to avoid feelings of loneliness. They also instill a sense of belonging and allow you to feel supported. There are many ways to connect with others. Two examples include laughing with an old friend on the phone or bonding with a new one over a cup of tea.

Be careful to avoid relying on digital connections. They can play a role in positive mental wellbeing, but they may also have the opposite effect.

Physical activity for mental wellbeing

Being physically active is great for your physical health, and it also promotes mental wellness. The endorphins released during exercise have mood-boosting benefits and can help you to feel more positive. Exercise can reduce stress and anxiety levels AND improve confidence and self-esteem. It can also instill a sense of accomplishment, whether from completing an exercise session or achieving a long-term goal. All of these factors affect general mental wellbeing.

Choose a physical activity that is enjoyable for you. You will gain more mental health benefits from doing what you want to do rather than what you think you have to do. A long, slow walk or jog could be a form of active relaxation that helps you feel a sense of escapism. Or, releasing negative energy in a boxing or HIIT session might be just what you need. Do the type of movement that feels right for you. 

Mindfulness and reflection

Mindfulness can help you recognize thoughts and feelings and let them pass. Negative thoughts and the emotions that come with them can adversely affect mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is a tool to help you take notice of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and emotions. It focuses on present awareness and can offer a sense of perspective. Use it in any area of life, including exercise and nutrition.

[Find out more in “Mindful Eating | What it is and How to Practice it”].

Journalling is a helpful tool for reflection. It helps you connect with yourself and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. In turn, you may be able to process your emotions more easily. Doing so allows you to move forward in a more positive mental space. 

Mental health scrabble letters

Nutrition for mental health

The role of nutrition for mental health is often overlooked. Yet eating a balanced diet is crucial for feeling good, both physically and mentally. Research suggests that nutrition can have a significant impact on mood and mental wellbeing. The good news is that the foods that help your physical body also help you feel better mentally.

Nutrition is crucial for mental health on several levels. A few examples include:

  • Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to depression
  • Dopamine and serotonin are important mood-related neurotransmitters. They are made from amino acids, the building blocks of protein
  • Reliance on fast-releasing carbohydrates can cause sugar spikes and crashes. The result can be a corresponding impact on energy and mood.
  • Many micronutrients can affect mental health. These include folate, the b-vitamin group, and zinc, among others.

Take a break when you need to

Overwhelm can be a source of stress and anxiety. Decide what needs to be on your to-do list and take steps to reduce your workload. Media breaks can help you break away from negative feelings. Workday rest breaks can offer a change in scenery to help you feel better mentally. Vacations will help you to relax, rejuvenate, and recharge.

Build healthy routines

Gain a feeling of mental wellbeing by creating some consistency in your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Get into a routine of regular food shopping and meal preparation. Simple actions lead to healthy habits that will help you feel better physically and mentally.

[Find out more in “How to Build Better Health and Fitness Habits”].

Other steps to improve mental health

There are many other lifestyle areas you can focus on to improve mental wellbeing. These include:

  • Trying new things to spark creativity, build confidence, and feel a sense of purpose
  • Helping others, such as volunteering your time in the community. Doing so can create a sense of reward and can also help you to feel connected
  • Get plenty of sunshine. Vitamin D has mood-boosting effects, and the sun is an excellent source.
  • Spend time in nature to instill a feeling of interconnectedness and an overall sense of wellbeing
  • It is easy to feel like the world is ending if you are in a sleep-deprived state. Prioritize sufficient good quality sleep to feel better mentally
  • Focus on the things that are in your control rather than those you cannot control

Improving your mental health should not feel overwhelming. Start with a small step that resonates with you, and build on it over time.

Download the At Home Fitness guide

Learn and apply the 5-step journey we use to help clients transform their health and firnes from home

Plus get our best tips, blogs and motivation from the nationwide team every week.

Footer Email Sign Up

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Your email address will only ever be used to send you health & fitness tips, in accordance with our Privacy Policy