I wish that people could understand that the brain is the most important organ in your body. Just because you can’t see it like you could see a broken bone doesn’t mean it’s not as detrimental and devastating to a family or an individual – Demi Lovato
May is Mental Health Awareness month and many organisations are lifting the lid on the taboos and stigmas that still exist in society around mental illness and, that is amazeballs! Celebrities are talking openly about mental health and therapy and all signs are pointing to the fact that we are, in general, prioritising self care and prevention….at last!
Big sigh of relief…..
Whilst signing up for therapy is great, participating in a retreat weekend is even better; especially if it one of mine, there are simple, impactful and meaningful ways to take care of your mental health so that it becomes something you do and not simply something you talk about.
Here are a few of my ideas chaps…..
*****Give your self permission to take a mental health day
Why do we all feel selfish when we know we need to take a day just for us? Stop that nonsense and instead see it as preventive medicine. By taking a day to relax and recharge your batteries, you give your body and your immune system time to catch up, which could actually prevent a physical illness in the future.
*****Take five minutes to meditate
Taking a few minutes to calm and focus on your breathing is a great and effective mental health strategy. It may feel like you are doing nothing useful and that is exactly the point! It’s all about the “being and breathing” and not the constant activity of doing. Five minutes a day, or five minutes when you feel stress building up in your day, can have more benefits than a quick power nap.
*****Try to limit refined sugar and add more magnesium in your diet
Cutting back on sugar can help keep blood sugar levels stable, which can help balance your energy levels throughout the day and magnesium found in dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, avocados and figs, can help fight stress, alleviate headaches and fatigue.
*****Stop glorifying being busy and sleep
Without sleep we all feel like a soggy, groggy mess right? so why do we prioritise late nights, the Gym or a work out routine or sex over nourishing sleep? It isn’t a magic cure all but, boy do our moods suffer when we aren’t getting enough.
*****Avoid binging on Netflix or scrolling social media before bed
Our brains need time to switch off before we can fall asleep so, over stimulating them before bed is not cool! Take a shower or bath, read, colour a mandala, call your friends or mum, journal, listen to a podcast as an alternative to help you zone out and relax before bed.
*****Think about the things you enjoy doing on vacation then add some of that to your daily life
We all tend to reduce the pace of life and replace pressures with a more zen outlook on vacation so why not do this sometimes in your daily life? Put your phone on airplane mode for an hour or two, don’t answer the emails flooding your inbox, make simple meals rather than putting pressure on yourself to cook elaborate meals, go for a run or walk or swim instead of a sports class or the gym; simplify and give yourself a mental break from the internal and external pressures; just like you do on vacation.
*****Get help, even if you think what you are dealing with is not “bad enough yet”
Don’t be hard on yourself, you don’t have to get to breaking point before asking for help. If you are experiencing mood changes that aren’t going away; especially if they are interfering with your relationships or daily life, talk to someone; anyone. A friend, a doctor, or a therapist can listen and support you. Telling someone is often the first step to feeling better so don’t think you are bothering someone else with your problems. Go ahead and talk.
*****Write down positive affirmations on small cards or post it notes and keep them in a pretty tin, basket or jar
When you are blinded by negative thoughts that can lead to a downward spiral, select one or two of these positive affirmations as a reminder of your worthiness and they can help you focus on your well being and mental health. They can be as simple as, “You are loved”, “Grab a glass of water and hydrate” or the lyrics to a favourite song or words of a poem. Whatever you choose to write down and use in moments of need or overwhelm, is personal to you and chances are, will help you see things in a more positive way.
Finally, some statistics from mental health.org.uk, to nudge you to look after your mental health, if I haven’t managed to convince you yet;
It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem.
Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
Mental health and behavioural problems; depression, anxiety and drug use, are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29 year olds.
May may be Mental Health Awareness month but your brain deserves you to treat every month as self mental health care month and you can easily introduce some of my suggestions to your daily and weekly habits without breaking the piggy bank or dramatically changing your lifestyle.
As the old cliche goes, prevention is better than cure, so get out your torch and shine a light on your own mental health.
What can you do today to live a healthier life?
Shine Sparkle Radiate