Self-care tips for World Mental Health Day
Regular self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of many mental health problems including stress and anxiety. They may also help prevent some problems from developing or getting worse. We have pulled together some of our most useful self-care tips for looking after yourself that you might find helpful.
Making Time for Yourself is the most Important Thing
There are so many things you can be practicing in your own time to increase overall mind and body wellness, the three most important practices include:
- Relaxation – you may already know what helps you relax, it might be having a bath, listening to a podcast, reading a book or taking your dog for a walk. If you know that a certain activity helps you feel more relaxed, make sure you set aside time to do it. It is so easy to disregard time for yourself, but it makes a significant difference in your overall mental health. Just giving up half an hour a day for relaxation can have an impact on your overall mental health, it just needs to be prioritised.
- Mindfulness - Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment. Practicing mindfulness can help you become more aware of your own moods and reactions, but not everyone finds mindfulness helpful.
How to Practice Mindfulness
While mindfulness might seem simple, it’s not necessarily all that easy. The real work is to make time every day to just keep doing it. Here’s a short practice to get you started:
Take a seat.
Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
2. Set a time limit.
If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as 5 or 10 minutes.
3. Notice your body.
You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, in lotus posture, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
4. Feel your breath.
Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes out and as it goes in.
5. Notice when your mind has wandered.
Inevitably, your attention will leave the sensations of the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing this—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
6. Be kind to your wandering mind.
Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
It is proven that exercise can improve your mental health by increasing your body releasing endorphins, which can trigger a positive feeling in the body. Regular exercise doesn't have to be very strenuous or sporty to be effective – to start with you could try gentle exercise like going for a short walk, yoga or swimming, most importantly something that you enjoy. Try to pick something you enjoy doing, so you're more likely to stick with it.