Skip to Content

How to Protect Your Mental Health and Get The Most Out of Life

How to Protect Your Mental Health and Get The Most Out of Life

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH AND GET THE MOST OUT OF LIFE

Here are some tips to help you protect your mental health and wellbeing so you’re more positive and able to get the most out of life.

WHY YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT

If life feels particularly difficult, it’s so important that you take some time to look after your mental health.

So much of how we cope with struggles and times of hardship comes down to our emotional strength and psychological resilience and how we process and deal with difficult emotions such as anxiety, uncertainty, frustration, anger, overwhelm and helplessness.

I’m not an expert in mental health issues but I do have personal experience of how it affects oneself and those around us. In this article I’m sharing some ideas to help you protect your own mental health and wellbeing.

Not everything will work and you don’t have to try it all at once. These are gentle reminders to help you find your way and look after yourself consistently, in body and mind. This is, after all, key to helping you live a meaningful and fulfilling life, in whatever way that means to you.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Here are some tips to help you protect your mental health and wellbeing so you’re more positive and able to get the most out of life.

1. Stay connected with other people

Talking is a great therapy. Keep in touch with friends and family in whatever way feels right for you. Give them a call and chat on the phone, send a text to say Hi, write a letter and pop it in the post, Skype so you can see them face to face, arrange a coffee date or schedule lunch together. Have a laugh, share your worries, listen to what’s going on in their lives, enjoy the company.

Staying connected with other people provides important emotional support and enables us to share our experiences, both good and bad. They say that a problem shared is a problem halved and although it may be good to share your own problems, don’t forget that you could be helping others do the same too.

2. Take regular exercise

Anything from walking the dog to rolling around the floor testing out a new Yoga position. Follow a You Tube workout or chase the kids around the park. It doesn’t matter what form of exercise you take, just do something daily to move your body and work your muscles in a way that feels right to you. Exercise releases chemicals which have a powerful and positive effect on the body.

Making physical activity a regular part of your daily routine can be difficult if your life is busy or you don’t have much energy. Be realistic about what exercise you enjoy and will be able to keep up for the long-term. It’s no good committing to a gym membership if you don’t have time or inclination to go!

This is why I enjoy walking so much. It’s cheap, easy and I can fit it around my daily life.

Read more about the mental health benefits of exercise.

3. Avoid social media

If you’re feeling low then you might like to watch cute videos of fluffy puppies and kittens doing funny things. However, watching other people go about their perfect Instagram lives (even if they’re not that perfect in reality) often brings about feelings of envy, jealousy and negative comparison.

Remove social media apps from your phone, give it a break for a while and focus on your own life instead of comparing yourself with others.

Social media is also not a substitute for human, personal connection. Whilst your phone and the internet may make keeping in touch easier, do try to speak to or see friends and family in person whenever possible.

4. Eat and drink healthily

When we’re worried, upset, bored, stressed or depressed, many of us try to numb, distract or control our feelings by over (or under) eating and drinking too much caffeine or alcohol.

Be kind to your body, treat it with respect and love and help it to help you. Fuel it with healthy options where possible, have a glass of wine or those chocolate biscuits in moderation and give yourself a treat every now and then!

5. Structure your day

Kids are better when they have a bit of structure and I know I certainly am too. Structure your own day using mealtimes as a framework, for example. Factor in some exercise time, family time, quiet time and time for catching up on daily chores or things to do.

This daily routine, which can be as flexible as you need it to be, will help you know what you’ve got to do and when you’ve got to do it. It keeps you up and running, even if you don’t really feel like it. Structure gives us a sense of purpose and achievement which is so important for our mindset and boosting our self-confidence.

Here are some tips for creating structure in your day with a morning and evening routine that fits around you and your life.

How to protect your mental health
6. Turn off the news

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by what’s happening around us and the sheer magnitude of the world’s problems can make us feel anxious and unsafe. Keeping up with the news is important but you don’t need to watch it all the time to get a sense of current events.

Maybe check it out once a day and perhaps not last thing at night when you’re getting ready for (hopefully) a good night’s sleep.

7. Get enough sleep

When our mind is restless it often keeps us awake at night and our problems seem to get much bigger when it’s dark outside and we haven’t got the day’s noise and busy-ness to distract us.

Set yourself up with a calming evening routine that sets you up for a peaceful night. Avoid watching TV last thing at night, or scrolling through your work emails on your phone. Instead, have a bath, read a book, write in your diary. Sleep recharges and resets our body and brain.

8. Appreciate what you have

Being grateful is so underestimated. We’re often so busy just trying to get through the day that we take the important things in life for granted. Being thankful for what we have, slowing down and spending time with loved ones or on a hobby, meditating, practicing mindfulness, writing in a journal, planning our goals for the year ahead are all examples of ways we can appreciate what we have (and build on them) instead of being upset about what we don’t have.

9. Be kind to others

Giving back to others is a wonderful way of taking the focus from ourselves and to others who could benefit from something we have to give, whether that’s our time, presence, expertise, knowledge or something else. Not only can this give us a sense of purpose and self-worth, but it also helps us connect with others. We can take pride in what we’re offering and feel positive and rewarded.

Being kind to others could be helping your neighbour, volunteering in the community or simply reaching out to or spending time with a friend or relative who could do with a little extra support right now.

10. Distraction

When we’ve got some difficult thoughts swirling around our head, it sometimes helps to distract ourselves by thinking of something else. Take up baking, learn something from a You Tube video, play a board game, move your furniture around, do colouring with your kids, declutter your home, watch your favourite TV series… It doesn’t matter what the activity is, just distract your thoughts by concentrating on something else for a while.

11. Learn a new skill

Taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill can do wonders for our mental health. Not only does it give us something to focus on and a sense of purpose, but it’s something to look forward to as well. We can feel proud of ourselves for trying something new and perhaps pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. It can help raise our self-esteem and self-confidence. And, depending on what it is, we can take pride in showing off our new skill and connecting with others.

Don’t worry about aiming for a qualification or a certain level of achievement if you don’t want the pressure that comes with it. Enjoy learning for learning’s sake and getting to know more about the skill, activity or topic you’re learning about.

What would you like to learn about? Can you join an evening class or find some online tutorials about it?

12. Be kind to yourself

Don’t stress yourself out if you think you’re worrying too much, or getting upset by something or feeling anxious or scared. Negative thoughts are natural and we all feel like this, to varying degrees, every now and then.

Go with the flow, find ways to express those thoughts on paper (brain dumping is a good technique) and see if you can think of things to help you deal with those thoughts in a constructive way. Getting angry or frustrated with yourself for feeling down, useless or lazy won’t help.

Channel those thoughts into positive action by cutting yourself some slack, admitting that everyone has bad days, and move on.

Let’s make a start right now! Make a list of 5 things you love about yourself or you’re proud of yourself for. Read some other tips on how to be kind to yourself.

13. Daily positive affirmations

Affirmations are positive little statements or mantras that you say to yourself and repeat often. They help us overcome negative, unhelpful or self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviours. The thinking is that if you say them often enough then, in time, you come to think more positively and believe them to be true.

Try these 60 positive daily affirmations for a happy and healthy mind.

How to protect your mental health
MENTAL HEALTH AND SIMPLE LIVING

One of the main reasons why I decided to declutter my home and simplify my life was because my mental health was suffering. I was angry, tearful, frustrated and feeling generally low and lacking in energy and confidence. I was worn down by the stuff in my life, in my home and my schedule. It felt like I was carrying the weight of the world with me wherever I went.

Taking small but consistent steps to simplify my life in every respect was how I improved my self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. This, in turn, meant I had more patience, energy and enthusiasm for life and for the people who meant most to me in that life, my family and loved ones.

I don’t say this lightly, but simplicity really did change my life. If you’re struggling with mental health issues, I encourage you to seek professional support if you feel you need it. Do what you can to boost your self-esteem and confidence with all the tools at your disposable. It’s a difficult journey and not one that we can always take alone. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness and the end result is almost always worth it.

In the meantime, I hope the ideas I’ve shared in this article will help a little. Leave a comment below to share your ideas too!

FURTHER SELF-CARE AND MINDSET RESOURCES

Here are some other resources which you might find helpful: