Surprisingly simple things you can do to help your mental health
If you’re still feeling down as the last blast of winter looms, here’s 10 ways to keep your mental health on an even keel.
Have coffee … with someone you like
Not only is the social ritual of a meet-up with friends or family a good way to lift mood, moderate consumption of coffee has been linked to lower rates of depression.
If you don’t like coffee, try green tea. It also contains caffeine, albeit less than coffee.
Eat your greens
We know eating fruit and vegetables can benefit us physically, but there’s mounting evidence that eating more vegetables, fruits, wholegrain, legumes, lean meats, fish, olive oil and nuts can also benefit our mental wellbeing.
Try to build in plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids (which have been found to reduce anxiety, stress and depression), and reduce sugar, refined foods and processed meats.
Lose the booze
As a depressant, alcohol can have a major impact on mental health. It changes the chemical makeup in your brain and alters mood, sleep and energy levels – so think about cutting back.
Plan a break
Planning a holiday – even a mini-break – gives you something to look forward to, which can boost your outlook and mood.
This might be harder to do than reducing your alcohol intake … but try leaving your devices at home for a day to disconnect from emails, notifications and, particularly, social media.
Instead, go and have some face-to-face time with a friend.
- Related: Why you need a digital cleanse
Regular exercise not only helps you to keep in shape and boost immunity, the endorphins produced also feed your happiness.
Bear in mind that the exercise should be anaerobic for you to achieve the benefits of these happiness chemicals.
Light to moderate exercise won’t be as beneficial.
Meditate for a clear head
Practising mindfulness through meditation is another good way to boost your mood.
Just a few minutes a day is considered enough, and don’t worry if your thoughts start to wander – it’s perfectly normal.
- Related: Mindfulness apps for better health
Count your blessings
Gratitude has graduated from new-age platitude to an evidence-backed method of building resilience, reducing depression, improving sleep and boosting immunity.
Try writing a letter or list of everything you have to be grateful for.
Play with a pet
Spending time with animals lowers (stress hormone) cortisol and boosts (the “love hormone”) oxytocin.
If you don’t have a pet, you could offer to look after a friend’s animal.
Put on a smile
Smiling calms you down, lowers heart and blood pressure and releases neuropeptides – molecules that facilitate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
If that’s not enough to convince you, check out more reasons to smile more often.
Written by Mike Bruce.