The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health Organisation, 2014). Thus, mental health is not just the absence of a mental disorder.
When we speak about mental health there is the tendency that we associate with it something negative. However, we all have our mental health just as much as we have our physical health. Different experiences that a person goes through in life can have a negative impact on one’s mental health. At some point we all experience distress and feel vulnerable. Especially during such situations, it is important that you keep your mental health in check. The following are a few tips of what you can do.
- Physical activity – We all know the benefits that exercise can have on your physical health. However, regular physical activity has several benefits for your mental health as well. It can help your self-esteem, as you feel more relaxed and chemicals are released in the brain which make you feel good. Choose a sport which you like, go to the gym or go for a walk and try to be consistent. Once you do this frequently, it will become a habit and therefore easier to keep doing.
- Food – Just like the previous point, eating healthy food is not only important for your physical health but also for your mental health. Your brain needs a mixture of nutrients to function well. Thus, balance out your diet by eating fruit, vegetables, protein, nuts and wholegrain cereals. Remember to drink at least 2 litres of water daily and avoid drinking excessive alcohol since it is a depressant.
- Support – Surround yourself with people who have a positive influence on you. These could be family, friends and co-workers. Especially during difficult times, having a good supportive network is crucial. Ask a friend to meet up for a coffee to have a chat. When this is not possible, ask them if you can give them a call. Sometimes just talking to someone and knowing that they are listening to you is enough. Do not be afraid to reach out to significant people in your life. It may be difficult until you do but once you manage, it can make a big difference in your life.
- Self-care – Having ahobby can help you to focus your energy on doing something for yourself which you enjoy doing. If you do not have a hobby spend some time thinking about what interests you and what your passions are. Spend time nurturing yourself by doing things which make you feel good. Sometimes you may need a time out for example, going on a holiday so that you can recharge yourself. You may want to do this on your own or with someone.
- Ask for help – Sometimes you need some additional support which your family and friends cannot give you. This is absolutely okay. Seeking professional support can help you cope better with certain situations. It is also an opportunity to understand yourself better and learn how you function. This will help you to grow as a person.
World Health Organisation. (2014). Mental health: a state of well-being. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/
Dr Marilyn Muscat is registered as an Educational Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom where she trained. She works with children, adolescents and their families to understand more about educational, social and emotional well-being concerns that they have and to help them improve upon their difficulties. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.