Just as eating healthily and getting enough exercise each day is good for your body, it’s also important to train your brain. A resilient mind is more flexible and better at recovering from psychological pain. Despite this, we still tend to view exercising and eating healthily as normal, while neglecting our mental health.
It’s a shame because developing a healthy mind doesn’t have to be particularly time consuming. By incorporating just a few short exercises, you’ll already be well on your way. It’s these small, daily workouts that make all the difference.
Improving your mental health
These steps will help you out if you’re feeling a little sub-par in terms of your mental health, but you might also find them useful if you’re in a good place mentally.
In fact, it’s always a great time to train your mind because it prepares you to handle challenging situations. Figure out what works for you and incorporate these exercises into your daily routine to get your day off to a good start or round it off in style.
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” —Eleanor Brown
1. Think about what you’re grateful for
Gratitude helps you to focus on the positive things in your life. Positive psychology has proven time and time again that gratitude is not only linked to increased happiness and positive emotions, but also stronger relationships and better physical health.
Each night, before you go to sleep, write down three things that you’re grateful for. These could be big or small things, such as feeling the wind in your hair, waking up without and alarm clock or successfully completing a project at work.
2. Do a mindfulness exercise
Even if it’s just for three minutes. Mindfulness helps you to stop focusing on the past or worrying about the future, and instead allows you to enjoy the present moment. The here and now, you could say.
This helps you to feel less stressed and you can go about your day with a sense of peace and calm. There’s a wide range of ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your life.
In this blog post, we give you six tips you can start using today, but you can also practice with one of our psychologists during a mindfulness consultation.
3. Get out in nature
Various studies have proven how nature can help to improve our mental health. It reduces our blood pressure and stress levels, improves our mood and immune system, helps us to feel calm and more self-assured and reduces our levels of anxiety.
A study by the University of Exeter found that we need to spend at least 120 minutes in nature per week in order to reap the benefits. So, jump on your bike or get your shoes on and head off to your nearest park, wooded area or beach.
4. Be aware of your thoughts
Without realizing it, we spend all day making assumptions about ourselves, both positive and negative. Often, we’re much harder on ourselves than we would be on a friend. It’s good to be aware of these thoughts and to keep asking yourself if they’re actually true.
“Your thoughts can really hold you back. If you notice that this is happening, you can challenge them by simply asking if they’re true,” explains Myrthe, a psychologist at OpenUp. “Gather evidence to convince yourself that your thoughts aren’t true. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is my thought true?
- Is it really accurate?
- Is this a realistic thought? Why not?
- Could I look at this situation from a different angle?
- Does this thought serve me?
- What does it mean if my thought really is true? How can I manage this?”
💡 For further reading see: How to Build Your Daily Mental Health Toolkit
5. Do absolutely nothing
There are so few moments when we genuinely do nothing at all. When we’re feeling bored, we quickly reach for our phones, switch on the TV or do something else to keep ourselves feeling busy and productive. But actually, doing nothing at all can do us a world of good.
By letting your mind run wild (instead of distracting it with a range of stimuli on your phone) you encourage yourself to be more creative, explains psychologist Sandi Mann from The New York Times. In addition, doing nothing increases your overall productivity, helping you to see things clearly and be more organized.
6. Get moving
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stick on your running shoes and go for a lengthy jog. Yoga, cycling or taking a walk with a colleague all count as movement. Basically, anything that raises your heart rate or helps you to shift your focus to your body is good for your mental health.
Various studies have proven that exercise gives you more energy and reduces stress, which improves your overall mental health. Fun fact: It’s also been proven that moving together and in synch with somebody else can lead to improved self-confidence and happiness. So, grab that friend and go for a walk.
7. Do something for somebody else
Doing something for somebody else isn’t just nice for them, it also benefits you. This could be something as small as giving up your seat for another person on the train, treating a colleague to a cup of coffee or cooking something tasty for your partner.
Research shows that helping other people gives us a sense of connection, making us feel more positive and encouraging us to be more active.
8. Go to bed on time each night
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important to do’s if you want to feel good about yourself. Sleep helps your brain to properly process the emotions and information you gather throughout the day, allowing you to remember things.
Essentially, your brain refreshes and prepares itself for a new day. This means that a good night’s sleep helps you to go about your day feeling good about yourself.
Tip: Take a look at our webinar about getting a good night’s sleep, which gives you tips for falling (and staying!) asleep at night.
9. Talk about your feelings
Many of us think that we have to deal with our all of our thoughts and challenges alone, but nothing could be further from the truth. Talking about your feelings can be an enormous relief and very soothing. It doesn’t matter how big or small the challenges you’re facing are.
Don’t worry if you can’t immediately find the right words to express how you’re feeling. Sometimes you can sum it up in a single sentence, other times you need 100 sentences. Both are okay.
Would you rather talk to somebody you don’t know about your feelings? Book a consultation today with one of our psychologists.
Start implementing one of these tips today or tomorrow and see what it does for you. You don’t really need to check off all the boxes in order to improve your mental health. Sometimes one change is enough to make a big difference.