Scientific Research is telling us a lot about how to look after our mental health. It is giving us information on how to build our resilience (how we bounce back from difficult times) and how to increase our well being.
You will have heard advice about having 5 fruit and veg a day to keep physically healthy…well there are also 5 things you can do a day to keep mentally healthy. These are:
Give something to someone. Do something nice for a friend. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Pop a penny or two in a charity box. Join a community group. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Connect with the people around you: with family, friends and neighbours; at home, school, clubs or in your local community. Take time to invest in developing these relationships. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day. Having people to talk to and turn to and who understand us (or even just give us a break and a laugh) protects us from mental health problems developing.
Keep Learning both at school and in your free time. Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up to learn a skill. Take on a different responsibility at home or school. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Keep Active by going for a walk or run; cycling. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness. Excercise is great for improving depression and releasing built up emotions. Getting a sense of achievement is great.
Take Notice by spending more time in the here and now (not worrying about the past or the future). Be curious. Look out for the beauty around you. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to school, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you to appreciate what matters to you. Mindfulness is a great skill to learn and a lot of scientific research is telling us that it can be used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions…Google it! Try it!
As well as doing these 5 things regularly, it is important to talk to people who you trust. Sometimes by keeping things in our thoughts become unhelpful. By talking things through we can test out what we are thinking, get emotional support and sometimes even get advice.