It’s World Mental Health Day on October 10th, so all week I’ll be posting tips, resources, and challenges related to boosting well-being. To begin with, here are 10 simple, easy self-care suggestions that also happen to be budget-friendly. When we’re not busy at work or with other obligations many of these things are quite obvious and instinctual, but sadly we often need reminding of them when stretched thin by stress.
Read on for more…
Our bodies need plenty of water in order to function properly and yet we often forget to stay hydrated when distracted by other pressing concerns. Remind yourself to drink more by bringing a full reusable water bottle to work with you or try placing a bottle or two around your house in places where you’re sure to see them often. As for me, I’ve taken to keeping a bottle upstairs in my bedroom as well as downstairs by the sofa, plus I always have one in my backpack that I take to work. If water isn’t your fave, perhaps get an infusion bottle – adding sliced citrus or mint to add a bit of interest to your water might just persuade you to drink more often.
2 – Eat Well
It can be hard to stay on top of eating right when you work long hours or weird shifts. While I wouldn’t say my diet is poor, I know that I tend to indulge in less nutritional, more sugary treats and drinks when I’m working the occasional string of night shifts or I’ve just finished a stressful work week. It’s OK not to eat ‘right’ all of the time, but our mind and body do operate at their best when we treat them right. If you can, plan your meals out in advance and try and prepare things with fresh rather than processed ingredients whenever possible and affordable.
3 – Sleep Enough, Sleep Better
How much sleep is enough sleep? Well, the answer varies depending on age and other factors, but I’m sure you generally know when you wake up whether or not you feel rested. To encourage your brain to get ready for sleep, try limiting your use of tech in the evening. If you must use your computer or smartphone during this time, try setting your screen to night mode. Most computers these days will let you choose in your settings what time of day night mode kicks in, and there are several apps that allow you to do the same on your iPhone or Android device. This article from Lifehacker explains how night mode can be beneficial to our eyes and brains, although it notes that we still need more research on the subject.
4 – Get Active
Feeling a bit off? Walk it off.
That sounds a bit harsher than intended. Really though, a bit of exercise when feeling mentally off-kilter can do a lot of good for both the mind and body. Even just a 10 minute walk can improve our alertness, energy, and mood. Should you want to learn a bit more, the Mental Health Foundation has a good page giving an overview of the positive effects that physical activity has on mental health.
5 – Be Nurtured by Nature
In her recent book The Nature Fix, environment, health, and science journalist Florence Williams explores the myriad ways in which nature positively impacts our well-being. It’s a very interesting read, and I recommend it to anyone interested in nature in general. There’s a lot that could be said here, but in a nutshell spending time in nature has been shown in many cases to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorders, improve mood, relieve mental fatigue, and boost creative thinking. All great reasons to get outside and go for a wander.
6 – Let the Creative Juices Flow
There is some evidence that doing something creative like writing, drawing, or crafting can provide therapeutic benefits. Such activities enable self-expression, and many people find their chosen favorite to be quite relaxing. Try setting aside a few minutes when stressed to play an instrument, do a bit of knitting, or maybe practice photography.
7 – Play a Video Game
I’ve talked previously about how playing certain types of video games can be helpful to me when I’m feeling anxious. There are lots of options out there if it’s a medium you want to explore. Not into video games? Perhaps a jigsaw puzzle app – or a real jigsaw puzzle! – might be preferable.
8 – Stay Close to the Sounds that Make You Glad That You are Alive
…as Hafiz said. It’s sound advice. Listen to music that relaxes you. Try combining soothing sounds via an app – there are many out there these days for doing just that. Or, if you’re lucky to live or work away from urban noise, open a window and let the sounds of nature in.
9 – Have an Attitude of Gratitude
It can be easy to get wrapped up in thinking about things that we don’t have in our lives, but this can only lead to stress and suffering. Practice gratitude for the many great things that are in your life, be they family and friends, good physical health or a job you enjoy. Whatever you are grateful for, remember these things often. Keeping a journal is an excellent way of taking stock of the many positives in our lives at any given moment.
10 – Sharing is Caring
As noted over at Mental Floss, helping others can lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, as well as improve our ability to manage stress. If you live in the UK, the Do-it Trust has an online volunteering opportunity database which you might find useful. By giving of your time and energy, you’re not only making the world better but also improving your own well-being too. It’s a win-win, isn’t it?