We concentrate on physical fitness but what about mental fitness? The mind is the most powerful tool we have, yet mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. Mental ill health costs UK employers an estimated £39 billion each year. Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men under the age of 45 in England and Wales.
So what is good mental health? Good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. Feeling able to enjoy life and be happy.
Good mental health is feeling able to cope with the demands, pressures and challenges in your life. Engagement with the world and the people around you is all part of good mental wellbeing too.
As ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ takes place this week, here are my 10 top tips to improve your mental fitness.
Connection – connect with the people around you; your family, friends and colleagues. Surround yourself with positive supportive people and always remember to help others too.
Self care – eat well, exercise and sleep well. Ensure you have a balanced diet as the food we eat provides nutrients for the body which generates energy. Exercise keeps the body in good health, but also releases feel good endorphins which are good for our mental wellbeing. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Sleep is important to regulate, rejuvenate and repair the body, and is vital for maintaining our mental health too.
Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and also boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word.
Value yourself - treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Be mindful of your thoughts and how you talk to yourself.
Live mindfully – be in the present moment. Allow thoughts to come & go but focus on what is happening right now.
Think positively - replace negative thoughts with positive ones to improve your mood and mindset. Set yourself a positive mantra daily. Focus on the good things, however small.
Change of scenery - break up your daily routine. Do something different. Visit a different place. Get out into nature. Take a different route to work. A change of scenery will give you a different and fresh perspective on things in your life.
Go to place - if you need quiet time to reflect or de-stress, where is your go to place to take time out for yourself? This could be a soak in the bath, place of worship, library, local park or even the garden shed! There are 24 hours in a day, so ensure you make time to take some time out every single day.
Spiritual - find meaning and purpose in your life. With every challenge there is always a valuable lesson to be learned for you to grow as a person. Don’t take life too seriously. Life is meant to be an incredible journey!