Good Mental Health is important, it helps us focus and cope with the challenges of life. When we feel under pressure, unsupported or overwhelmed we run the risk of harming ourselves and others.
If you recognise that you are finding it difficult to get by, consider some of these tried and tested suggestions to get yourself back on track:
Aim for 8 hours sleep at night. If this is difficult, research ways to improve the quality of your sleep. Things like blackout curtains, removing technology from the room and setting an alarm to go to bed before 10pm can be helpful.
Eat a well-balanced and diverse diet. If you don't know what that is, there are plenty of government-funded free nutrition resources online and YouTube is awash with ideas. Alternatively seek out healthy cooking books. Libraries and charity shops offer low or no cost options to get you started.
Reach out to someone you can trust. This might be a partner, family member, friend, neighbour, medical professional, the police or someone in a charitable organisation. Tell them how you are feeling and ask about ways they can support you.
Join a social group. Humans aren't designed to live alone. Making friends and being part of a community is important for our wellbeing. Hobbies and sports are two good ways to socialise and learn new skills/enjoy exercise.
Exercise every day if you can. It doesn't have to be much. A walk to the shops, or 20 minutes cleaning or DIY all counts. Exercise in nature will have the dual benefit of fresh air, Vitamin D and the healing benefits of the natural environment.
Set boundaries on what you're willing to do, how much time you're willing to give and exposure to things you find difficult. If you have to be in an environment that's difficult to be in (e.g. an office when you'd prefer be outdoors, being around people when you enjoy your own space), be sure to take breaks and look at making long-term changes that honour your needs.
Remember difficult times are temporary. You only have to look back at the last year to see how much things can change. Hard times can feel like they're never going to end, but don't underestimate your ability to adapt and grow. A few years from now, you'll be glad you didn't give up.
Make time for things you enjoy. If it's all work and no play you'll burn out and your mental health will suffer. Enjoyable activities such as gardening, baking, arts, crafts or music nourish the soul. You don't have to be good at them to have a go.
Take breaks. A big cause of mental health issues is tiredness. This isn't just food or diet related, we need a break from our jobs, family issues, our home environment. A change of scene is as good as a rest. Spend that time doing something you enjoy.
Practice breathing. It's amazing how much tension we accumulate when we're trying to be something we're not. Focusing on relaxed breathing will lower stress levels and improve mood, helping you return to a more relaxed and harmonious state.
Drink plenty of water, and cut back or cut out caffeinated, alcoholic and/sugary drinks if they affect your mood or sleeping. Find healthy alternatives so you don't feel like you're missing out (I've just got in to Kefir water flavoured with berries, it's yum!)
Take time to switch off every day, preferably multiple times every day to let your mind rest and re-charge. Adding a meditation to this time will enhance them even more!
Address the big challenges in your life in bite-sized pieces. Breaking a task down into a series of smaller tasks helps to make the whole process more manageable. Celebrate the mini-wins along the way to keep your spirits high
Keep a gratitude journal. Focusing on the good things in life draws more of good things to you. You will find this creates a positive virtuous circle.
Bring in expert help. If you're struggling with a health condition, your career, life issues or an unhealthy work or home environment, find a relevant expert. Charities exists for all manner of issues and they can often connect you to some great resources.
Finally, if you find yourself struggling your biggest champion to get you back on track is you. Believe in yourself. Mental health issues are much more common than people think. A bad day, week or year doesn't have to mean a bad life. Trust your ability to get through and come out the other side stronger, wiser and more compassionate than before.