12 positive steps to mental health
The challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic have brought the importance of mental health and wellbeing into even sharper focus.
If you feel stressed, anxious or low from time to time, doing something positive to help yourself can make a real difference to your mood.
Our 12 positive steps can help:
1. Get active and feel good
Exercise is great for wellbeing, improves physical health, gives you more energy and can improve your mood. Try for at least an hour and a half of activity a week which gets you slightly out of breath - pick an activity you enjoy.
2. Accept yourself
Don't be down on yourself and self-critical, remind yourself of your positive qualities when you feel low.
3. Be creative
Boost your mood, relax, and forget your worries through painting, drawing, crafting, gardening or playing an instrument.
4. Learn something new
Learn something new to boost your confidence and find fresh interests, that can lead to different experiences and friendships.
5. Get involved
Being isolated can increase feelings of depression and low self-confidence. Finding ways to join in and making links with other people can be a great source of support.
6. Chill out and unwind
Life can be hectic, it can be hard to relax so set aside some time to unwind and do something you enjoy.
7. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of fluids
Cut back on sugar and refined carbs to improve your mood. Healthy eating and keeping hydrated can give you more energy, boost concentration and increase mental wellbeing.
8. Get a little help
If you're feeling stressed, it's ok to ask for help, chat to a trusted friend, family member, support group, or look at support websites for help and advice.
9. Reduce or look for support to stop smoking
A lot of smokers would like to stop, but some continue because smoking seems to relieve stress and anxiety and helps you relax. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop depression over time, if you would like assistance you can contact the local stop smoking service.
10. Drink sensibly
Knowing 'how much is too much' can be confusing when it comes to alcohol. Most of us feel that we know when we've overdone it, but sometimes drinking can 'creep up' on us and, over time, we can find that we're drinking more than we would like. A recommended limit of 14 units a week means roughly six pints of lager or one and half bottles of wine.
11. Go easy on yourself
If you're having a difficult time, don't load yourself down with demands and expectations, do something relaxing instead. 'Be kind to yourself'.
12. Keep in touch
Friends and family can be a great support when you're low - make an effort to keep in touch, through, a quick phone call, video call, social media, a friendly email or letter or even a visit if possible.