5 Top Tips for Minding Your Mental Health

slide01by Lyn Duff, Counsellor & Psychotherapist at Johnstown Therapy Centre

Life is more demanding now than it was when we were children. The speed with which computers, electronics and the internet have taken over our lives has made this world a very different place than it was 40, or even 20 years ago. There are many advantages of the electronic age, for sure, but one of the areas where I feel we have lost out, is in our personal time. Me-time, some like to call it. Our families, jobs, phones and other priorities constantly demand our attention. If you have babies or teenagers, or you are minding someone whose health is not the best, this can be a significant drain on your internal resources. This can be very challenging and make time-out for yourself difficult, even with the best of help from other sources.

These days we are constantly reminded to look after our physical health. Everywhere we look, it seems, there are special offers on gym memberships and boot camps, suggestions for healthy eating plans, encouragement to get our 5-a-day. We are also becoming aware of the links between physical, mental and emotional health and the value in finding a balance between them. While physical health is fundamental, looking after your mental health is equally important.

Have a look at my 5 top tips for minding your mental health, then take some time to consider how much you prioritise this part of your life.

1. Mindful cup of tea

Next time you take a break, get a drink of your choice (it doesn’t have to be tea!), find somewhere that you won’t be disturbed and set your phone to silent. Take a look at your drink, inhale its aroma, taste each mouthful, notice each sip. Then take time to appreciate your surroundings. If they aren’t pleasant, notice one thing that you might enjoy: a plant growing out of a crack in the paving, a colour you like, the sky and how it reflects the weather, the sounds around you, a breeze against your skin. Use your senses to experience the moment. Use this short time to step out of your busy-ness and into yourself.

2. Get in touch with nature

Nature is a great healer, somehow managing to both energise and relax us. Exercise is a great way to get out into the fresh air. Take time to go outdoors during breaks in your daily routine or just open the window beside you to let in the outside. Make time to be amongst trees, wander in a meadow, sit beside the sea, walk along a river or canal, relax in a garden. Even in winter we can wrap up warmly and go out to enjoy the crispness of an icy day or go for a drive with the heater on and the window down. Allow nature to work its magic.

3. Take time out from your phone/electronic device

Turn you phone off or onto silent, put it in a safe place where you won’t be drawn to it and do something that uses your time and attention differently: read a book, invite people for a picnic, play board games, visit with friends, take up a hobby or work on your existing hobby. The list is endless, and if you do something you enjoy, the benefits are doubled! Not only are you changing gears, you are getting in touch with yourself and others.

4. Have fun! Relax!

Linked to the tip above, this doesn’t necessarily entail turning off your electronic devices – it may even incorporate using them! Do something that you love to do but haven’t had time for: go dancing, watch a movie that makes you laugh, play in the snow, plan a party, bake with the kids, go for a massage or spa treatment. Maybe do something new that you might not have previously considered trying: learn a skill, take up a hobby, train in a sport. Fun and relaxation contribute hugely to our general wellbeing.

5. Keep in touch with people

Spend time with a friend, chat with a family member, tell your troubles to someone whom you trust and who really listens. Invite someone to try out some of these top tips with you! Good relationships can provide relaxation, support and connection in our increasingly busy lives. If you find that your troubles are too much for you to bear, link in with a counsellor or psychotherapist.

With Christmas just around the corner, the pace will certainly be picking up for most of us, so why not take some time out and mind your mental health? After all, you’re the only one who can do this for yourself, and by bringing extra resources into your life you can better mind not only yourself, but others around you