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Looking after your mental and emotional health

Updated on October 16, 2015

The topic of mental health seems to be on the tip of many tongues lately. Thankfully, people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of positive mental health. However the struggle is fought not only on a social level, but on a personal level. Sense prevails when we call for change, but to create this change, we need courage and determination to prevail also. Personal growth and care will greatly influence the outcome of the mental health struggle. Excessive stress, worry, sadness and anxiety can easily break you down if not kept in check. When we minimize these things, we free ourselves up to live our lives more positively. Positive mental health will improve your ability to have; more healthy relationships (with friends, family, partners), make healthier choices in life, handle the every day ups and downs, maintain your physical health and also to grow and discover your full potential.

It is worth noting that if you find your mental health problems persist in spite of your best efforts, please consult your local G.P. They may be part of a deeper cause. A serious mental health issue requires serious attention, so please do not take risks. Signs of poor mental health include:

  • Uncontrollable highs, lows and emotional outbursts
  • Persistent insomnia
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Unexplained sense of shame or guilt
  • Alcohol and other forms of substance abuse
  • Drastic appetite and weight changes
  • Social withdrawal or breakdown of bonds and relationships

However, there are simple habits you can get into that will help you take better care of your mental and emotional well being. Just by making one or two changes in your approach can have surprising benefits. So if you find yourself worrying about beating away the blues, a couple of these may be worth a try at the very least.

Watch what you put in your body

We have all heard about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, but beverages that are high in stimulants such as energy drinks and coffee can place extra strain on your body. An excess of junk food and fast food can also have the same effect. When the body is placed under too much stress, the mind also suffers. Make sure to keep your diet full of healthy vegetables and proteins. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association recommends Omega 3 fatty acids (found mostly in oily fish) as a complimentary treatment for depression.1 Your brain is roughly 75% water so proper hydration will also work wonders to keep your mind clear. You would be surprised how many headaches occur as a result of simple dehydration. As an extra tip, you could try multivitamins and replacing your usual warm beverages with a cup of green tea. Green tea hydrates the body and Is packed with healthy antioxidants. For more info on the benefits of green tea check out the link below.

Set some targets and plan ahead

When I finished my degree I very quickly found myself stressing and losing sleep over where to go and what to do next. When you have no clear direction you are bound to feel lost and a little afraid. Even more so if you have extra responsibilities and bills to deal with. Whether the goal is personal, romantic or professional it is helpful to know what to expect. Take some time to look at your options and break your journeys up into simple little steps. If the task seems insurmountable, when it is broken down, it is a lot less intimidating. Fear of the unknown is very common. Planning ahead takes that fear out of the equasion. Planning ahead also keeps you from taking on too much all at once. For example, stress in the workplace due to excessive workloads is a contributor to countless sick days per annum. This kind of stress follows you home and begins to affect your personal life. Try to avoid it in the first place.

Write it down

Keeping track of your emotions and feelings throughout the day can help you understand them a little better, almost therapeutically. By writing about emotions such as sorrow or anger, it helps release some of the intensity rather than leaving them unacknowledged. It will also help you to tackle your problems more effectively. We commit things to memory easier by writing them down, so when we face a similar problem in the future, we will know how best to deal with it . Writing also helps us tap into the right side of our brain associated with creativity. Creativity is a wonderful tool in dealing with the problems of day to day life.

Be good and do good

The Philosopher Immanuel Kant once said that “to be is to do”. Put simply, if you want to be happy, you have to do things that create happiness in your life and in the lives of others. Many people believe that selflessness is a key to happiness. In other words, do something beneficial for someone else, because you are surely not the only one fighting a battle. It can be something as large as volunteering or something as simple as passing a compliment to a stranger. Knowing that you have done any measure of good in the world is definitely something that can make you feel proud as you go to sleep at night. And if you believe in karma, all the better. Over the summer I spent time fundraising for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland and too part in their charity skydive. It was one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences of my life, and all for a fantastic cause. I couldn't recommend an experience like that enough, so if you are looking for a challenge and a chance to do some good, there is surely a cause you can rally behind

Surround yourself with positivity and positive ideals

If you are trying to quit drinking, its not exactly a good idea to spend your time at the bar with your regular drinking buddies. The same is true if you are trying to change your mentality. If you are surrounded with negativity, then that’s what you will feed on. The light wont find you if you shut yourself away from it. It must be sought out. Change your circle of friends if you need to. Read some inspirational quotes. The world is full of them, from sports men and women, to inspirational movies, to The Bible. Whatever your taste, there is something that will stir your passions.

Laugh

Ever hear that laughter is food for the soul? Well I certainly believe that is true. Sometimes, we do not always feel like we deserve to be happy. I understand that perfectly, but that simply is not true. Everyone deserves the same chance at happiness. Whether you are searching for purpose or forgiveness, try to find time to laugh. It releases mental tension and will give you a break from the negative cycle you may be suffering from.

Do more of what you love

Everybody has something they love doing. Hobbies are a great way to give us a break from the mental stress and strain that builds up during the week. You can relieve tension and clear your mind with some exercise, painting or reading. Or even just spending time with loved ones and treating yourself to some feel good food is a great way to enjoy your time. If you have a skill you enjoy doing, try to perfect it, if you have a book you are dying to finish, then work through some chapters. You might just arrive at that happy ending you have been looking for.

Enjoy the little things

Most of us are blessed with five senses. Taste, Touch, Smell, Sight and Sound are senses we use every day. So often in fact, that we take them for granted. Try to get in touch with those senses again. Take a deep breath of fresh air, savour the taste of your favorite foods and marvel at the sunset. It will help to keep you in the moment instead of worrying about what has been and gone and what is to come.

Communicate and ask for help if you need it

Think of your favorite superhero (or just pick one as an example),no matter how strong they are, occasionally they will need help from a friend or sidekick. The same is true for ourselves. No matter how tough or smart we may be, we have to admit that we will need a helping hand from time to time. You can confide in a friend or family member. And if you are not sure you have someone you can confide in, there are wonderful resources out there for those that feel alone. Even if you feel you don’t need to chat, it is still a great idea to keep in touch and socialize. It strengthens bonds and relationships.

Relax

So this is self explanatory. Take time to yourself whenever you can to just do nothing. Maybe get a nice massage, meditate or even pray. Prayer or self reflection are great ways to discover more about yourself and find strength and reassurance.

Believe in yourself

This is the most important step. No other step you take will lead anywhere if you don’t believe in yourself. This step I have had to struggle with myself recently after a bad breakup, but no matter how hopeless and lost you feel there are always reasons to believe. Believe in your potential to change your circumstances, believe in your potential to do great things for yourself and others. Trust your instincts and abilities. By doing so, you can become an example for others, a reason someone finds their own strength to get up every morning and fight their own battle. Believing in yourself is often one of the hardest things to do, but it is one of the most rewarding.

References

1 - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/24/diet-mental-health_n_6566376.html

Comments

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    • John Kelly28 profile image

      John Kelly 

      2 years ago from Sheffield

      Great post again Sean. Well done on all the fundraising. Must have been a fantastic experience. "To be is to do".. I love it

    • Sean Gorman profile imageAUTHOR

      Sean Gorman 

      2 years ago from Ireland

      Thank You Lillian and Denise or your comments.

      Denise I am glad you agree. People take too many unnecessary risks when it comes to mental health. Thank you for your support.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      These are great tips! I have used the majority of them on my own mental health journey. I especially like your recommendation to check with your general practitioner. My mental illness started with hormonal imbalances in my thyroid and gland system. It is wise to get a thorough checkup to make sure that things are working well, as mental health symptoms may stem from other health issues.

    • Lilly Kind profile image

      Lillian Kind 

      2 years ago from Austin Texas

      Great advice. Love the inspirational videos. Well done on the fundraising!! And chin up over the heartache, shes missing out!!

      Lillian.

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