Looking after your mental health
There are lots of ways that you can look after your mental health. Whether or not you are experiencing mental health problems, it is good to think about ways to stay mentally healthy.
The more I learnt about mental health, the easier things became.
Your mental health and what can help
There are many things that you can do to look after your own mental health and emotional wellbeing.
The following tips and suggestions will be helpful to you if you are experiencing mental health problems yourself or if you are supporting a family member with mental health problems.
You can also find information on:
Finding it difficult to sleep?
Food and your mental health
Drugs, alcohol and the links with mental health
Coping with bereavement and loss
Managing the pressures of exams and interviews
It’s especially important to look after yourself if you are feeling stressed or anxious. All too often, it’s easy to forget the basics like eating properly or getting enough sleep.
It’s also important to find ways to cope that work for you. Everyone is different, and situations can change over time, so it’s often a matter of trying different things out.
Talk to your friends
It’s very easy to become isolated if you are feeling unwell, or are caught up with looking after someone else who is experiencing difficulties. Talking to someone you trust – who could be a family member, a friend or perhaps a teacher or tutor at college – can help you ‘share the load’.
Continuing to take part in your favourite hobbies or pastimes, or joining a local group can help you to not become isolated – or can be a way of finding new friends and building up a social life.
Share your feelings
Letting people know how you feel, including what you might be worried about, is often really helpful in reducing the feeling that ‘you are on your own’.
Being listened to and sharing your dilemmas can help you to come up with new ideas for solving a problem or difficulty that you are facing. It can also boost confidence, self-esteem and make you feel more in control of the situation.
Exercise and activities
As well as being good for your physical wellbeing, taking part in some exercise or physical activity can be another way of meeting new people and making friends.
Exercise can have many benefits. Some people find that exercise helps them to concentrate and sleep better. There are lots of different types of exercise and you can pick the ones that you enjoy. For instance, trying a relaxing form of exercise, for instance yoga, could help you to feel less anxious, tense and stressed. Or you may prefer to go for a run, play football or dance.
Local libraries are often a good source of information about what activities are available in your local area.
Ways to relax
There are lots of things, many quite simple, that can help you relax. Some people relax by:
- writing in a diary or journal
- watching TV
- looking after a pet
- listening to music
- having a bath
- going for a walk
- going to see a friend
Protecting time for your interests
Doing the things you enjoy like watching TV, going to the cinema or listening to music, can help you to relax and to think through the things that may be bothering you … so if these activities appeal to you, then planning some regular times for them is very important.
Creative activities like painting, photography, acting and dancing can be good ways of expressing feelings. They can also perhaps channel energy in a positive way – and of course, they can help people to meet others with similar interests.
Taking regular breaks to do these things – especially if it seems like everything is getting on top of you – is a recognised way of tackling stress.
Knowing when and where to get help and support
It can be reassuring to know what’s available in your local area if you begin to feel that you need some extra help or support – and again, a library is often a good source of information about what’s available.
If the difficult feelings or emotions that you are experiencing – or those of someone you might be supporting – get to the point that they are having a big impact on your everyday life, or they are affecting you for longer than a few days, then you should consider talking to someone. This could be your GP, or if you are already in contact with mental health services, the professional working with your or your family.
Find out where you can get help and support
For more info:
Here, we talk about the sorts of things which can affect how we feel emotionally, how to work out whether we need help, and what sort of things we can do to look after our mental health. Download the resource here
Here's a poster that can be downloaded or printed off and completed – a chance to put down on paper your own thoughts and feelings about the sorts of things which make you feel better. Download the poster here
Rethink Mental Illness provides an extensive range of information resources for people of all ages affected by mental health problems. Their online information includes: