When it comes to taking care of yourself, staying on top of your mental wellbeing is absolutely crucial. Not only does it allow you to look after yourself and improve your mental health in the short-term, but it can also help you manage difficult times in the future. In fact, even the smallest acts of self-care can have a huge impact on your mental health.
Here, Guto Tegid, a social sciences and law expert at the Seren International Online Summer School, shares his tips on how to watch out for your mental health:
1. connect with nature
Undoubtedly one of the key ways to give yourself a mental health lift is by getting some fresh air whenever you can. Not only does the calming, outdoor atmosphere aid in reducing stress and improving your mood, but increased oxygen flow will also boost your brain power and productivity. Whether you do so by looking through the window for a few minutes, or by taking a walk around the garden, connecting with nature can help develop your cognitive capacity while, more importantly, looking after your wellbeing.
2.Talk to others
While it may initially seem intimidating to open yourself up to others, sharing both your successes and concerns with the people around you can have a massively positive impact on your overall mental wellbeing. For some, it may be more comfortable talking to friends or family, whereas for others, opening up with a professional may be the best option. However, there is no right or wrong way to share your feelings. Find your way of communicating which encourages you to be transparent, and to share your problems with those who can listen and support, not only do you build stronger relationships with those around you, but you also raise your own confidence and, in the long-term, positively influence your mental health. The saying really is true: a problem shared is a problem halved.
3. Take a deep breath.
When we take deep breaths, we give our bodies an opportunity to relax and reduce tension. In doing so, our brain is more capable of rapidly releasing positive emotions, relieving stress and enabling us to feel less anxious and overwhelmed, particularly when we are under a lot of work or study pressure. Leading doctors have found that deep, heavy breathing taps into the brain-body association and can lead to a long-term improvement in mindfulness. Further research has highlighted how our brains are wired to connect various breathing patterns with different emotions. Through taking long, deep, and steady breaths, we are essentially able to trick our brain into believing that we are in a calm state of mind.
4. Take regular breaks.
Not only does taking frequent breaks give our brains and bodies time to recharge, but it also allows us to refocus our attention and enhance productivity. Staring at the same screen or undertaking the same task endlessly with no pause can lead to brain fog and can reduce our brain’s capacity to absorb information. This is especially the case in the post-pandemic world where working from home has become the norm. Breaks, even short ones, are proven to improve mental health by giving us the chance to recover from stress and restore the energy needed to get through our work.
5. Do something you enjoy
This can be anything. Whether you are a keen piano player or someone who enjoys painting, doing something that you enjoy can help you beat stress by boosting your self-esteem and transferring your concentration to an action that you find gratifying. Spending even a short amount of time on the hobbies that you enjoy can significantly improve your mental health.