May is Mental Health Awareness Month and at Futures we think it’s vital to be part of the conversation about mental health. We’ll be posting weekly pieces throughout May to share information, tips and resources about mental health and wellbeing, and ways to keep yourself mentally healthy. We all have mental health, and we can all support ourselves and each other to live happier, healthier lives.
This week we’re focusing on positive ways you can support your wellbeing. The charity Action for Happiness have identified ten keys to happier living, and you can find more information on these on their website by clicking here.
We’ve also put together some top tips for improving your wellbeing – feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any more you’d like to add!
- Get moving and eat well
It might be a bit of a cliché, but getting your body moving and eating well can have a huge impact on your overall wellbeing. When we feel better physically, it really does make you feel better mentally as well. Getting moving – whether it’s a walk around the block or a kitchen dance party with the kids – releases endorphins, which are brain chemicals that help to lift your mood. Eating well gives our minds and bodies the energy we need to tackle our day-to-day lives – but don’t forget, you can (and should!) still have treats and enjoy the food you’re eating, to nourish your mind as well as your body.
- Check in with yourself
Mindfulness gets talked about a lot – but what is it, really? Essentially mindfulness boils down to living in the moment – being aware of what’s going on around you, and accepting how you’re feeling so you can focus on being present. There are lots of ways to live more mindfully – whether it’s finding time to do specific activities like meditation, keeping a journal or colouring, or just taking a quiet moment to reflect on what’s going on around you and how you’re feeling in that specific moment. The NHS has more information about living more mindfully – click here to read more.
Sleep is absolutely vital to our wellbeing, but getting a good night of it can sometimes feel impossible! As much as you can, try to keep to a consistent bedtime routine – this will help your body to learn the ‘cues’ that it’s time to go to sleep. Wherever possible, avoid electronic devices like phones and laptops for an hour before you turn in, as the blue light emitted from these is known to disrupt your sleep. Instead, try settling in with a book, taking a warm bath or shower, or doing a mindful activity like journaling or meditating. In time, your body will get to know what these activities mean and sleep will come easier – giving you more energy to tackle that to-do list the next day!
- Establish your routine
It’s not just our sleep routine that has a positive impact on our wellbeing. For many people, particularly those living with a mental health condition, having a daily or weekly routine can be incredibly helpful for supporting your mental health. Try structuring your days around key activities like getting up and dressed, work or study, time with family or friends, and hobbies or leisure activities – you’ll notice that having that routine already taken care of gives your brain more capacity to think about the unexpected things that pop up as part of day-to-day life and manage change as it happens.
- Learn something new
The human brain loves completing tasks and learning new things, so trying something new and having new experiences is a great way to give yourself a blast of those mood-boosting chemicals that make us feel motivated, energised and ready to take on the world. Why not try downloading a language learning app like Duolingo, having a go at the Wordle of the day, or trying out a new sport or workout routine?
- Find your community
Human connection is really important for our wellbeing. Having relationships, whether they’re with friends, family members or other people in your community, prevents feelings of isolation and can increase feelings of self-worth. We’ll focus more on loneliness next week, but remember – there are no rules about who you have to have in your circle. You can surround yourself with friends, family members, colleagues – whoever makes you feel good about yourself and helps you to feel supported when things get tough. If you’re looking to meet new people, why not try downloading an app like MeetUp or Bumble BFF, or checking out your local library, community centre or leisure centre to see what activities are going on that you can get involved in?
- Reach out for support
If you’re having a tough time, or aren’t feeling quite like yourself, support is out there. Speak to the people around you, or reach out to your GP to see what services are available in your local area. It’s also an option to refer yourself for talking therapies through your local mental health services – click here to find out more about what’s available in Derbyshire, or click here for information about Northamptonshire.
If you’re in crisis or worried you might harm yourself, you can call an urgent mental health helpline – find yours by clicking here. You can also speak to the Samaritans by calling 116 123, or get support via text by messaging ‘SHOUT’ to 85258.
Keep an eye out on our website and social media channels for more information during mental health awareness month. You can also join our online community My Voice, where we’ll be starting lots of conversations about mental health and wellbeing through May.