Many years ago, I heard an article on the radio about ‘5 a day for your mental health’ and it stuck with me. We have all been well versed in the importance of 5 a day in terms of portions of fruit and vegetables, but how often do we make mental health a daily habit?

Here are 5 recommended steps that can help to improve your mental health. Whilst everyone hates being given advice (yikes, I know I do!) I am hoping these suggestions can be more of a nudge in the right direction of good self-care…

1. Connect with other people

Good relationships with friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and being part of our local community can really enrich our lives. We really saw the power of that in the Covid-19 lockdown, with neighbours helping each other with errands and calling friends who were shielding.

Our family was shielding and little connections meant so much during that time. I particularly remember a friend who put some Cadburys cream eggs on my doorstep on Easter Sunday to cheer me up, and friends and family who checked in on us to give us some moral support. Can you be that person for someone else?

2. Be physically active

Being active is great for your physical and mental wellbeing. It can also raise self-esteem, help you to set and achieve realistic goals and create chemical reactions in your brain which help to positively change your mood.

If motivation is lacking, make sure that you keep the discipline of showing up and getting a little bit more active each day. You might surprise yourself.

3. Learn new skills

Learning something new can really help with self-esteem, connection with others and helping to build a sense of purpose. Trying a new recipe, doing a DIY project, taking on a new responsibility at work, signing up for a course, starting a blog – the possibilities are endless. Why not start small, and see what happens.

4. Give to others

Giving to others helps create positive feelings, gives a sense of purpose and helps with connection to others. Small acts of kindness work just as well, and can be as simple as paying someone a genuine compliment, saying thank you to someone, volunteering in your local community or checking on a neighbour for example.

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Some people call this awareness mindfulness. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Want to know more?

I really enjoyed reading a book by Johann Hari, called ‘Lost Connections’. It’s a brilliant book for anyone wanting a better understanding of mental health and offers some great suggestions about reconnecting to ourselves and others to provide a solid foundation for good mental health.

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