How to Support your Mental Health is an article by Jane Hanford author of Happy Anyway
It is World Mental Health day on 10th October so today we are going to look at things we can all do to help ourselves and our loved ones stay mentally healthy. Just like we look after our physical health with good nutrition, exercise and care of our body, mental health can be supported with attention and care.
Strategies that will help you support your mental health
Firstly, minimise your exposure to negativity and anxiety triggers. This may mean breaking free from news, social media and people that trigger negative emotions. These can be hard habits to break but realizing that they are having a negative impact on your mental health may be the spur you need to step away.
Open up to other people about your feelings. You might have friends or family that you can talk to, you might find a group that feels right or you might feel safer talking to a professional. When you share your feelings with others, you start to realize that we are all the same and we can all help each other.
Deepen your knowledge of mental health. Seek out sources that seem to speak to you and address your needs at this moment. This could be self-help, psychology, philosophy or spiritual practices. There are many online sources and books. Just choose just one or two and stick with them until they no longer serve you. Then move on at a pace that feels right. My book Happy Anyway is a straightforward introduction to help get you started.
Stay present to your emotional state. Instead of getting caught up in worries and dramas, notice when you are starting to react with anxiety, fear, anger or shutting down. Take a deep breath and in that moment you can decide how to respond in a way that is best for your mental health. Sometimes it is good to take a quick break to get some space and a sense of perspective.
8 Common negative thoughts and their antidotes
Step back and take a look at your thoughts to see which thoughts serve you and make you feel good, and which ones don’t. Here are 8 common examples of thoughts that make you feel bad and the antidotes you can make as soon as you catch yourself
- A lot of anxiety is caused by worrying about what other people think of you. If you focus on your own values it becomes more important to think about what you think of you.
- You might feel that you have to control your environment and events to feel safe. Try to resist this impulse and relax your grip little by little so you can see that even when you do, you are still safe
- If you catch yourself worrying about what might happen, instead imagine what is the best that can happen. Use your imagination positively instead.
- If you are punishing yourself for past mistakes remember everyone has made mistakes. We are all here to learn and making mistakes proves that you are a normal human being.
- Don’t let anxiety hold you back or stop you from doing what you want. Take on challenges even if they scare you. The only way out of anxiety is through it.
- If you are telling yourself you are stupid, lazy, not worthy etc, you will undermine your mental health. In reality you are a perfect human being. Focus on your strengths and your achievements, write them down and keep these top of mind. Try the free VIA character strengths test if you need help in knowing what you are good at. https://www.viacharacter.org/Account/Register
- If you find that you are always wanting more than you have, challenge yourself with this question – what do I really need to be happy? Write down the answers and challenge each one.
- Try to stop comparing yourself with other people. Everyone looks more confident than they really feel inside. You too look 10 times more confident than you feel.
How to Support your Mental Health
And finally, mental health is just as important and needs just as much care as physical health. If you need help reach out to your GP, school, college or workplace, or a mental health organization for the support you need.