Your Doctor

10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

There are many people who suffer from very serious mental health conditions, but many of us can also be debilitated by feelings of anxiety or depression, including post-natal depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or simply because we are going through a difficult time. If you or someone you know are suffering from a mental health issue then visit your GP. To follow are tips from Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa of Your Doctor on ways to help improve your mental health:-

1. Exercise. When you’re feeling low it is tempting to be lethargic but evidence shows that even a small amount of exercise can help treat mild depression and protect against anxiety. Exercise reduces activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for negative thoughts. 

2. When you find yourself worrying about a future issue, postpone that worry for a pre-organised block of time even if it is for later that day. Researchers found that patients who caught themselves worrying and then postponed that worrying for a pre-selected 30-minute block of time were calmer than patients who consistently worried throughout the day.

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. How you respond to small annoyances like being stuck in traffic may affect your mental wellbeing in the long term. Develop good coping strategies where you can talk yourself down from stressful situations. Deep breathing in through the nose for five seconds and out through the mouth for seven seconds can really help with anxiety or stress. Small amounts of daily meditation are known to reduce stress and help your mental health.

4. Be careful of toxic relationships. If partners, friends, and possibly even family have a negative impact on your mental health, putting some space between you could be invaluable to putting a positive outlook on life. 

5. Try learning a new skill. Many people who suffer from depression describe feeling inadequate. Learning a new skill can give you a sense of satisfaction and evidence also shows that those who carry on learning into their adult life are able to cope with stress better than those who avoid learning after school. 

6. Start meditating. Research shows that those who meditate are less rigid in their thinking. This is a highly beneficial skill for those who suffer with anxiety or depression, as it can help shift thoughts away from developing into harmful behavioural patterns. 

7. Be giving! Evidence suggests that small acts of kindness may help your mood and feeling good about yourself, as well as help another person get through their day.

8. Make sure you’re being social. We are social animals and therefore it is not healthy to be on your own a lot of the time. Ask your friends and family for emotional support at difficult times in your life, but also arrange nice outings with them to spend time together and to get out and about. Try to increase your network by attending sports clubs or meetings about subjects that interest you to meet likeminded people.

9. Get out to the countryside! A study conducted by the journal of Environmental Science & Technology found that just five minutes in a green space can boost mental health. 

10. Find someone you trust to talk to whether that be for advice or just someone who is happy to listen. Alternatively visit your GP, perhaps booking a double slot.