In the same way that we all have physical health, we all have mental health and we need to look after it, throughout our lives.
Mental health and wellbeing is about how we think and feel. It is about being able to enjoy life and cope well with life’s challenges. Our mental health and wellbeing can be affected by various events in our life, e.g. exam stress, physical illness or family/friendship break-ups, as well as mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
It is normal to have happy feelings when something good happens or feelings of anger and sadness if something bad happens. It is very common to feel scared or anxious if something is worrying us. These are our emotions. Part of maintaining good mental health is being aware of the differences between normal emotions and feelings that you may need extra support.
Ten ways to look after your mental health and well being
Life can sometimes be stressful and looking after our mental health can help. It is important to find positive ways to manage stress. There are many things we can do to feel positive and maintain good mental health:
- Keep active
- There are many advantages to exercising. It helps increase energy levels, uses up excess energy and can improve sleep patterns, as well as keeping us fitter. It is a great mood booster; increases confidence levels, and is great for managing anger and stress.
- Eat well
- Having a balanced diet can help maintain energy levels and self-esteem. It’s easy to fall into bad habits, but it is very important to eat well, keeping the sweet treats and junk food to a minimum.
- Sleep is crucial to our mental and physical health. It re-energises us and allows our bodies to heal after a busy day. Establishing good routines to aid better sleeping is essential e.g. a bath and a warm drink. Exercise and avoiding stimulants will help as will having some screen-free time just before bed.
- Be mindful
- Mindfulness is about learning to focus attention on the present moment alone. Not worrying unduly about past or possible future problems can be hugely beneficial to mental and physical health. Calming the inner voice by simply taking some deep breaths can help to reduce the negative thoughts and anxieties; it will also steady your heart rate.
- Limit screen time and phone time
- Turn off your phones and screens and spend time in the real world. It is good to spend time off line, especially just before bed. Spend time on ‘real relationships’ rather than ‘virtual’ ones. You can escape the pressures of keeping up with what’s going on with all your friends all the time.
- Do something you enjoy
- Listen to music, play an instrument, sing, watch a movie, read a book or join a club. You will feel more relaxed and positive.
- Organise your workspace and set goal
- Have an area just for work (not on your bed!) and create an area for relaxing. Organising and tidying folders and work spaces will make you feel more on top of work and not overwhelmed by all the organising that needs doing. Setting realistic goals, prioritising what is important and balancing your time will help in the management of mental health. It gives perspective and enables us to deal with problems more effectively.
- Be thankful
- What are you thankful for today? What has gone well? What have you enjoyed? What can you look forward to next? Keep a positive diary or happy memory box to look at when your need to remind yourself of the good things in life.
- Improve your self esteem
- Accepting yourself and not comparing yourself to others will help you to develop better self-confidence and therefore greater self-esteem. Spending time helping others (volunteering) is fulfilling and can boost your sense of self-worth and achievement; it makes you focus on the needs of others rather than yourself, which can give a sense of perspective.
- Sometimes, sharing your worries with friends and family can help you through a tough time; it can help you regain some perspective on a situation – don’t cut yourself off from people who can help. Staying connected and being social in positive ways can go a long way to maintaining good mental health. There is professional help too if you feel the need to talk to someone who is not connected to you personally.
Where to get help
There is always help out there! You are not alone. Finding the right help and support is key to successfully managing your mental health.
- In school: Each school has their own staff who can help you cope with managing your workload or dealing with emotional issues. Try talking to your form tutor, SPM or other pastoral staff. Librarians can also be helpful by showing you some books that may contain helpful information.
- Outside of school: Family members may be able to help, or your Doctor can refer you to CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) – or Adult Services if you are over 18.
www.kooth.com is an online help and counselling service.
www.lpft.nhs.uk/steps2change is where you can request NHS counselling in Lincolnshire by self-referring.