In a recent Instagram poll, we asked our followers how they would rate their mental health. The majority (45%) reported it as “fair”, 26% described it as “good”, 22% described it as “poor” and 7% said it was “excellent.
However, mental health isn’t something you should ignore just because you’re currently on the “good” to “excellent” end of the spectrum. Mental health problems including depression and anxiety can happen to anyone at any time.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, help is out there, and it’s very likely that you won’t feel this way forever. However, if you are struggling with long-term anxiety or depression, visit your GP to find out how they can help.
Everyone will struggle with their mental health at some point, and when you do, it’s helpful to have some tried-and-tested methods on standby to help you get back to feeling like yourself again. Read on to learn some of our favourite methods for maintaining a healthy mind and positive mindset.
Without a doubt, the single biggest factor that is likely to impact your mental health is stress. Stress is your body’s reaction to tough situations, whether that’s a boss that won’t give you a break, or trying to take care of your family when there clearly aren’t enough hours in the day.
There are two ways to reduce stress: you can look for ways to keep calm in stressful situations, or you can reduce your contact with things that send your blood pressure sky-high. Learning how to say “no” and set clear boundaries is a simple way to take control of stress in your life.
Want to go out tonight, even though you were looking forward to being horizontal in front of the TV?
“No, thank you!”
Can you help with this school bake sale? All we need is 4 million cupcakes iced by Monday.
“Not this time, sorry!”
Saying “no” isn’t always easy, but if it helps you to regain the headspace you need to prioritise your mental wellbeing, then it’s worth it.
Staying active is good for the body and the mind. But not everyone has a great relationship with physical activity. You might be able to trace this back to a bad experience in school or something similar. Unlearning these habits and developing a healthy attitude towards exercise can take time.
You might need to try a few different activities before you find the one for you. And you might even need to keep switching things up to keep it interesting. But one thing is certain: once you find a way to move your body in a way that you find fun, you’ll be doing something incredible for your mental health.
Exercise is like an instant pressure-release valve that will melt your stress and leave you with that flood of post-workout endorphins.
Connect with People
Social media can make us feel like we are closer to people than ever before, yet many of us have never felt lonelier. Learning to step away from social media and connect IRL is an excellent way to support your mental wellbeing. Building a strong support network that you can lean on when you aren’t feeling your best is a great way to support your mental health.
As part of our Instagram survey, we asked “How do you deal with negative emotions?” A shocking 69% reported that they keep their feelings to themselves. 15% said they speak to friends and family, 11% said they only speak to friends, and 5% said they only share with family.
Bottling up your emotions won’t make them go away any faster, so learning to open up to your friends when you aren’t feeling your best could help. You might find that your friends are struggling in very similar ways.
We’ll be the first to admit we’re also guilty of mindlessly scrolling on social media to pass the time. But this leads to a warped view of the world. When you are constantly comparing your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel, you can start to feel like your life could never match up.
Who you follow and how often you consume their content will start to have an impact on your mental health – if you let it. So, set limits on social media time, unfollow the people who make you feel envious and take a break now and then to enjoy the real world.
Improve your Sleep Habits
Your body needs sleep in order to repair your body and reset your brain. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your mental health will begin to suffer.
Poor sleep is also linked to some pretty scary conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, obesity, depression and reduced immune system function. Even just one sleepless night can make it feel impossible to function like a human the following day.
You should aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night – and remember that it takes most people around 14 minutes to fall asleep. You can use a tool like Sleepti.me to help calculate when you need to fall asleep.
Embrace “Flow State”
When your mental health feels like a burning pile of rubbish, you need to find ways to keep your mind occupied. And that’s where “flow state” activities come in handy.
Flow state is a kind of deep concentration where you are wholly engrossed in a task. Remember when you were a child and playing with your toys could keep your attention for hours on end? You’d forget to eat and sleep and even go to the bathroom. That was a kind of flow state.
As an adult, you can recapture this state by finding activities that are challenging – but not so challenging that you feel like giving up. Flow state activities are generally split into three categories: learning, creating and being active. Playing an instrument, reading a book, crafting activities and playing sports can all induce this flow state where time seems to fly by.