What is mental health?
Mental health refers to the comprehensive state of psychological and emotional well-being that encompasses cognitive, emotional, and social capacities. In simpler terms, it is the health of your mind. Just as physical health is vital for meeting life’s challenges, so is the maintenance of your mental health. A healthy mind fosters happiness, calmness, readiness to jump at new challenges and adaptability to life’s ups and downs. However, when your mental health is diminished, you might feel sad, stressed, or anxious. In severe cases, poor mental health can culminate with mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Consequently, caring for your own mental health is of significant importance to your daily life.
How can I improve my mental health?
- Stay Active: Regular physical activity, like going for a walk, playing with the kids, or hitting the gym, are effective for improving mood state and reducing stress through the release of brain chemicals like dopamine and endorphins.
- Eat Well: A balanced diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and high quality protein help to improve brain and body function *General advice only, for specialized advice please see a qualified dietician professional*
- Get Enough Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for mental health. Try to create a relaxing environment and find a pre-sleep routine that allows your brain to effectively shut down overnight, giving you a more peaceful and restful sleep.
- Manage Stress: Find stress-reduction techniques that work for you, whether it’s deep breathing, meditation, or hobbies you enjoy.
- Connect with Others: Social connections are vital for mental health. Spend time with friends and loved ones, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support when needed.
- Set Realistic Goals: Break your goals into smaller, achievable steps. This can give you a sense of accomplishment and boost your self-esteem.
- Limit Alcohol and Avoid Drugs: Excessive alcohol or drug use can impair mental health and mind function.
- Seek Professional Help: If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and support tailored to your needs.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help you stay in the present moment and reduce anxiety.
- Engage in Activities You Enjoy: Doing things you love can boost your mood and provide a sense of purpose.
- Volunteer: Helping others and giving back can be fulfilling and improve your mental well-being.
- Learn to Say No: Don’t overcommit yourself. It’s okay to say no to things that add too much stress to your life.
Deep Dive – How does being active help my mental health?
- Biological Chemical Changes: During activity, endogenous chemicals like dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released, supporting ‘feel good’ emotions and improved mental wellbeing. Exercise is also proven to help manage stress by reducing cortisol levels throughout the body. Together, these effects can help to relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
- Improved Sleep: Regular exercise and activity can lead to better sleep patterns where you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake more rested, leading to better brain function and control over life stresses and your emotions.
- Enhanced Brain Function: Exercise increases blood flow to your brain, delivering more oxygen and nutrients. This boosts cognitive function, making you more alert and improving your ability to concentrate. Acutely, these effects can last for hours after exercise. Chronically, regular activity is associated with improved cognitive function and lower risk of dementia.
- Boosted Self-Esteem: Achieving fitness goals, whether they’re big or small, can boost your self-esteem and confidence. You’ll feel more accomplished, which positively impacts your mental health.
- Social Connection: Engaging in group activity or team sports can provide a sense of belonging and social interaction, combating feelings of loneliness and improving your mental state.