Just like our physical health, mental health is something that we can, and should, work on every day. Being ‘happy’ is a mindset that doesn’t necessarily come easily to everyone, and those that feel in positive spirits can usually attribute some practical things they do each day to make themselves feel better. Here’s some key things you can do everyday to improve your mental health according to Lysn psychologist, Gabrielle McCorry. Hint: It’s all about making it a daily habit!
Physically, exercise it is incredibly important, but don’t discount the mental benefits. Yes, we’ve heard time and time again about the positive mental health benefits of exercise, but the reason that we keep hearing it is because it is truly powerful. Make exercise a non-negotiable in your daily routine, even if it’s only a half an hour walk. If you don’t feel like going outside, look at exercises you might be able to do at home, such as some yoga or body weight exercises like squats and push ups. Get the heart pumping and stimulate the production of those feel good endorphins!
Night owls might cringe at the thought of waking up early, however it does have some incredible mental health benefits. Studies have shown that those who rise early are at lower risk of mental illness. Whilst this might mean going to bed earlier, research suggests that those that get up before 6am had up to a 25% lower risk of depression, compared to those who stayed up late and rose later. Getting up earlier can be easier said than done, however start a good habit off by doing it incrementally. You might not be able to jump straight to getting up at 5am straight away but try setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier each day or week and before you know it, you’ll be getting that worm (or so they say)!
For some, practicing gratitude might sound like some new age business, however studies have shown that regular practice of ‘giving thanks’ can actually improve your mental wellbeing, whilst also increasing happiness and reducing depression. The theory behind this goes that if you’re thankful for what you have, you’ll be less likely feeling like there’s things missing in your life. So, start saying thanks to the universe, or to those around you!
Constant monotony is something we might not even think about—the way being stuck in a seemingly positive routine can have a negative effect on our lives. For the most part, having a routine is important. It can make us more efficient and feel secure in our lives, however it is important for our mental health to shake this up every now and then, or even every day for those that crave some excitement. This might mean booking a spontaneous getaway to a place you haven’t been before, learning a new skill like dancing or boxing, or even just switching up your regular coffee shop for a few days. No one wants to get stuck in a Groundhog Day like existence so find the joy in trying and experiencing new things!
Stress is a part of life and dealing with it effectively can benefit your health and wellbeing. Research shows that stress can contribute to the development of chronic illnesses, depression and obesity. So, practicing good coping skills during stressful times can reduce many of these negative health consequences. Some small things you can do each day include managing time, taking breaks, prioritising tasks, saying “no” to unimportant requests, and quietening your mind by meditating, mindfulness or relaxation exercises.
Humans are social animals with an inner need and desire to connect with others. Research has shown that people with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those without. In particular, healthy relationships have been linked to reduced stress, higher self-esteem, better healing, and longevity. In contrast, being isolated or lonely can have negative consequences for your physical and mental health.