The past few months have been challenging for most people in most societies. While the lockdown may have helped some of us finesse our cooking or gardening skills, with everything else going on in the world and in our lives, sometimes we tend to neglect our mental and emotional well-being.
It might seem like a great task to work on making oneself feel better or move towards a more positive attitude but there are lots of small changes that can help us to cope with, and better manage stress. This includes everything from eating right to seeking professional help. Actively taking out some time in the day or the week to practice self-care is known to boost mood, build resilience, and add to overall well-being. Here are some things you can do to bring about these changes in your life and work towards your journey of happiness.
Good physical health is key to good mental health
We all know the importance of eating nutrient-rich food, staying hydrated, and getting adequate sleep, which is essential for our body’s healthy functioning. Yet, we often fail to understand the direct impact good physical health can have on one’s mind. Eating food filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes your brain and in turn, enhances your mood. Similarly, a good night’s sleep is extremely important to have a better morning the following day.
Sleep deprivation can have an adverse affect on your mood and daily functioning.. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try to make your room and surroundings feel colder than usual and stay away from electronics at least 30-45 minutes before sleep. You can search ‘sleep hygiene’ for lots of tips and more information on getting a better night’s sleep.
Spend time with nature
As much as the idea of staying at home might make us feel comforted, it is equally important to get some sunlight and exercise. Set time aside in the day to go for a walk or a jog, observe the plants and trees, or simply stand outside and enjoy the breeze. Physical exercise has endless benefits and can greatly influence your mental health. Additionally, getting some sunlight every day not only increases your Vitamin D levels but also helps you feel calm, focused, and improves your mood.
Regulate your exposure to media coverage and stay away from negative influences
In challenging times like these, Television and online media can be a source of information but it can also bring about fear. Constant exposure to news and social media can intensify your worries and put you under greater stress. Believe only those pieces of information that come from authentic sources and limit your media intake if it upsets you or your family.
Complain less and appreciate the positives
Often when we are faced with a difficult situation, our first reaction is to complain about it. The next time you come across such a situation, take aside two minutes to ponder over the scenario and consider if you might resolve the issue without complaining about it. Chances are you might decide against complaining, thus saving yourself from feeling irritated or helpless. Look for a silver-lining in every difficult situation you come across.
Talk about your feelings
It is extremely important to stop, pause, and think about how you are feeling regularly. Whether it is work, school, relationships or anything else, check in with yourself and evaluate how it makes you feel. Talk to a friend or someone you trust and vent your feelings to them. Confiding in someone can ease your distress and give you a sense of security and validation.
Stay connected virtually
Good relationships are key to a fulfilled life and being in touch with those that care for you may add to your happiness. With the current restrictions in place, it is challenging to meet our loved ones physically but technology today performs a vital role in helping us all stay connected. Use the messaging apps on your phone for healthy purposes - rather than sharing news or other content, send a friend a simple ‘how are you?’ message to begin a warm conversation.
Do something every day that brings you joy
Whether it is listening to music, reading a book, or cooking your favorite dish, spend some time every day doing something that you truly love. After all, our happiness lies with us. This can also be a great way to take a break from the business of everyday life.
“You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. Take one step in the right direction and see how these small changes can entirely transform the way you perceive your own wellbeing. Don’t wait until a crisis occurs to make your mental health a priority.
You can implement these habits and methods and watch for yourself how it makes you feel. Start with something that resonates with you and then try something else. This way, you can slowly create for yourself a healthy routine that works and helps you feel happier and healthier.
If you or someone you know needs professional support or assistance, ask for help from a mental health professional. For any concerns about mental health or to seek professional help, you can contact the Aga Khan Health Board or other national helplines.