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Simone Thomas focusing on mental wellbeing

Self-Care: 5 Ways To Better Your Mental Health

An informative list of self-care tips to help improve your mental wellbeing.

Getting into the habit of completing simple self-care rituals can be extremely effective at boosting your mood and relieving stress.

Last year, 72% of millennial women made their mental health and self-care a priority. But what is self-care and how can it improve your mental health?

Clinical psychologist Agnes Wainman defined self-care as “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” Ultimately, self-care includes activities which bring us joy, reducing stress and anxiety.

These activities depend on personal preference but sometimes it’s nice knowing where you can start - read through the following 5 suggestions and give one a go the next time you are in need of a little pick me up!

Exercise Everyday

Whether it’s spinning, yoga classes or walking - exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster. Partaking in physical activities increases endorphin levels, a chemical which is better known as our ‘happy hormone’. This can help with depression and anxiety whilst reducing stress. Walden University explains how increasing our heart rate stimulates our production of neurohormones like norepinephrine, which reverses stress-induced brain damage!

Exercise doesn’t always have to be a long and intense gym session - try fitting in 30 mins of walking each day to clear your head and get moving. Working out with a friend is also a great option, not only does this increase motivation but it’s also one of the best ways you can improve your mental health. One study discovered that group-based sport activities decreased the number of ‘poor mental health days’ by 22.3% per week!

Consume More Omega-3

You are what you eat - consume a healthy and balanced diet and feel better from the inside out! With a wide range of health benefits, omega-3 or fatty acids are an essential part of a healthy diet. In terms of self-care, incorporating more omega-3 into your diet is a great way to improve your mood, it can even help to combat depression. 30% of our brains are made up of omega-3, therefore consuming more foods rich in this fatty acid will ensure the brain's messaging chemicals, neurotransmitters, work effectively.

One study found that patients who consumed an omega-3 fatty acid called EPA experienced a 50% reduction in symptoms of depression, including feelings of sadness, tiredness and inability to work. So if you are looking to improve your mood, try consuming foods rich in omega-3, such as salmon, mackerel, chia seeds and walnuts!

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is simply the awareness of ourselves and the world around us. When we have a particularly bad day, it’s very easy to get caught up in the finer details rather than looking at the bigger picture - this is where mindfulness can help!

Mindfulness is available to all of us at any given time. Taking time to think and breathe connects us with the present moment, helping us to put things into perspective and manage our thoughts. Meditation is a popular way to practice mindfulness and has been proven to help regulate mood and anxiety disorders.

Keeping a gratitude journal can be an effective way to practice mindfulness as you can easily visualise and reflect on your feelings from that day. A study by Harvard Medical School found that expressive writing can help people with depression to manage and reduce their symptoms. So next time you are in need of some self-care, try putting pen to paper!

Digital Detox

Many of us rely on technology to make our lives easier.  Day-to-day, smartphones are extremely helpful but for the sake of our mental wellbeing, it’s important to unplug. Excessive phone usage has been proven to negatively impact our lives both physically and mentally, in some cases, increasing anxiety and causing sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that there is also a correlation between rising stress levels and continually checking your smartphone.

Using your phone before bed can also cause sleep deprivation. A 2013 study discovered that the blue light emitted from our phones suppresses melatonin levels, the hormone that regulates the human body’s sleep-wake cycle. If you aren’t ready for a complete digital detox just yet, try limiting your phone use - and reap the benefits of a better nights sleep!

Drink Less Alcohol

After a long day, some of us like nothing better than unwinding with a glass of wine. However, alcohol causes chemical changes in our brains which can lead to a negative emotional response. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol can prolong and exacerbate mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.  This is because alcohol stops the neurotransmitters in your brain from working correctly, impacting your mental health and wellbeing.

If you feel as though alcohol is negatively affecting your mental health instead of bringing you joy, try an alternative method of self-care. Socialising and seeing loved ones is a great way to relax, rather than meeting at the pub why not suggest meeting for a coffee instead. Alternatively, if you’ve had a long day at work, try unwinding by partaking in a hobby or activity you enjoy!

Incorporating self-care into your weekly routine is a great way to relax and unwind, allowing you to gather your thoughts or focus on something you really love. However, if you are continually experiencing symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety and depression, please seek advice from your GP.

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