We all need to look after our mental health and wellbeing whether we have a mental health condition or not. If possible prevention is always better than cure.

World Mental Health Day encourages people to explore how they are feeling and equipt them with ways to cope with day-to-day life. Our mental health can change from moment to moment and sometimes with little warning.

While there are always challenges (as well as opportunities) in life, 2020 was felt particularly as the world strained to adjust to a new norm and new worries with the Pandemic of Covid-19.

Here are some simple practical steps you can take to improve and maintain your wellbeing including making time for yourself, building positive relationships and getting active…

Relax & Reduce overwhelm

When you feel stressed or overwhelmed it may feel like your mind is whirling 100 miles per hour but this is actually the best time to slow down. Find something that takes you out of your current physical space, do something that distracts and relaxes your mind. For some people that might be listening to music, for others calling a friend, painting or doing some yoga.

Putting tech to the side can also be a great help and encouraging your mind to be in the moment.

One way to practice mindfulness to is tap into your senses, what can you feel, see, hear, smell all around you in that moment. Do this while taking at least three deep inhales and exhales.

You can also give your eyes a break from all the screen time and listen to something motivational and uplifting like online global radio Inspire Radio (www.inspireradio.co.uk).

and breathe…

Take a walk on the green side

Being in or amongst nature including greenery and animals has proven to reduce stress and gives us a heightened sense of wellbeing. Find your local park and enjoy a daily walk or why not bring some of that greenery into your home with pot plants. Next time you meet your friends for a drink why not agree to go for a walk instead and discover a new area.

Again, take a moment to be really present in nature, notice the colours around you, the textures of the plants and trees as well as the sounds you can hear.

Connect with your community

Humans are social beings and whether you’re an introvert or extrovert by nature, spending time with others has shown to reduce worry and stress. Make sure you have people around you that light you up and radiate positive energy rather than leaving you feeling drained every time.

Relationships are about give and take so protect your mental wellbeing and surround yourself with cheerleaders or ask for helps and support if you’ve not done so before. It can feel difficult asking for help but we all need someone to lean on at times.

Charities like Action for Happiness and new companies like ItsMental can also open doors to new communities if we are looking for extra support.

Connection is key…

Protect your sleeping

Increasing science shows us how vital sleep is for our overall health, not only for the next day when you want a productive day at work but also long-term health related issues.

Protect your sleep, that means going to bed and waking up at a similar time so your body can get into a natural rhythm. People are usually early risers or ‘night-owls’ so also be aware of your natural preference and use that to your advantage. We all need about 8 hours sleep per night.

Get technology out of the room and stop using it right up to the point of going to sleep as this disrupts the bodies’ natural sleep system.

If you struggle to get to sleep play some relaxing music before sleeping or pick up a book to slow your mind down and get you ready for sleep. Try Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.

Photos by Jeremy Perkins @jeremyperkins and madison lavern@yogagenapp Alexis Brown @alexisrbrown