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Three ways to improve your mental health

Statistically, 25% of adults in the UK will have a mental health problem this year. Mental illness is an epidemic in our society, especially among men, and it is only over the last few years that we’ve begun to open up about it. To put this into perspective, in 2017 the UK experienced just under 6,000 cases of suicide with over 75% being male. This is shocking in itself, but even more so when you consider that male suicide is currently at its lowest rate since the 1980’s. This article hopes to provide the reader with three helpful tips to improve their mental health, none of which should replace seeking medical advice.

Diet

A recurring theme with sufferers of mental health, particularly those with depression, can be self-destructive behaviour. This can come in many forms including a failure to look after themselves. Often people who are depressed become lax with their personal hygiene and stop eating. But it’s important to know that your diet can play a big part in your mental state.

Try and eat at regular times during the day, especially breakfast. Where you can, stick to healthy foods and snack on fruit for energy. While this may not deal with the root of your problem, looking after yourself is imperative to self-improvement and tackling mental illness.

Exercise

The irony of exercise with mental health is that it involves asking people with low energy and motivation to do something that requires energy and motivation. This is where setting realistic goals are important. If you’re someone who doesn’t exercise often, then set a small goal of running half a mile a day (as an example), and increase overtime. You want to make progress and improve so make your aims achievable.

The benefits of exercise for mental health are huge. Not only does exercise release endorphins which will make you feel happier, but it will cause you to eat more and be physically tired. This will improve your diet, and sleeping patterns. Joining a gym is another great way to get exercise. You can even get referrals from your GP to certain gyms, subsidising the costs. Improving your physical health will have a positive effect on your mental health. There’s a reason Manchester is 7th on the healthiest cities in the UK and was voted the happiest city to live in last year.

Sleep

A final section to this article is something we all do on a daily basis, sleep. Often people who are struggling with mental illness find it difficult to sleep or stay asleep for long periods of time. There are however a few things you can do to ease your body off to sleep. Firstly, try and read or practise guided meditation for thirty minutes to an hour before bed. This will relax your body and prepare it for sleep. Another trick I learned was to keep your body off your bed as much as possible during the day. This conditions your body to associate the bed with sleep. If you spend all day in bed, your body may find it hard to switch off because it’s always in a sleeping position.

In conclusion, you might have noticed that all the above points help each other. For example, if you get up early and exercise in the morning, you will be hungry throughout the day, you will be tired later on and may sleep better. Even if you don’t the first time you try the routine, your body will eventually climatise to getting up early and will start to get tired sooner. Being well rested and fuelled would be the first steps to tackling a marathon, so why not mental health?

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