9 things that help us stay mentally healthy

book-1171564_1920How do you stop your head feeling like you’re sinking into a whirlpool of stuff to do and people to keep happy and information to process? I asked a question on Facebook about things that are important to keeping ourselves mentally healthy and a whole pile of friends answered! So here are ‘our’ top tips:

Exercise – find an exercise that works for you and do it regularly. Suggestions include: swimming, walking, running, bike riding

Get outside – whether it’s walking/running/riding a bike or just sitting in the sun/watching the waves break on the shore the act of getting out and about is therapeutic

Connecting with the right people – our friendships are vital and, if you’re especially prone to bouts of sadness or anxiety, it’s essential to know who you can turn to when things are really bad.

Knowing when to retreat – especially true if you score higher on the introvert scale than the extrovert scale but even for us extroverts we need a balance or we’ll burn out.

Being honest – I know this is hard, it can be exasperating to find that we’re struggling AGAIN. We might have missed some of the signs telling us to slow down or take time for ourselves, we might have never known there were signs! But honesty with ourselves first and then with a trusted friend is the beginning of the journey back to being more healthy and coping better with life. Talking is itself a form of therapy; as that old adage says: a problem shared is a problem halved!

Faith – there are many studies which suggest that those who have faith in something bigger than them live longer and are generally more content and happy than those without. At my lowest point mentally I found real comfort and help in the constant repetition of certain bible verses, along with having people of faith alongside me to pray with me and help me process what was happening. Of course each person’s experience is different and for some the Christian Church has been part of the problem rather than offering any succour.

Work/Life/Rest balance – this is another hard thing to get right, particularly for those whose work is church-based because the line between life and work is blurred to the point of non-existence! But protecting your time off work, not answering emails after 6pm, making sure you do something every day that helps you rest even if only for a short time, are all important things that can help us stay healthy.

Sleep – the importance of sleep cannot be overstated. If you’re not sleeping well then your body and brain don’t have the time they need to replenish themselves and ‘reboot’, this makes everything else much harder. It doesn’t take many nights of interrupted sleep to have a significant effect either. If you’re struggling to get to sleep or stay asleep it’s worth spending some time on finding out what could help!

Diet – both your eating and viewing habits can have a huge effect on your mood. Having the news on throughout the day can really affect how we feel, I in fact try not to watch the news on TV very often at all. If I’m listening to the radio in the day, which I do often, then I try and tune the news out because I can’t cope with taking on too much of other people’s tragedy and politics makes me angry! I also have to be careful about the films or programmes I watch as I tend to take on the emotion of the people whose stories I’m watching. Eating wise I don’t think I need to labour the point that too much caffeine, alcohol, gluten and sugar can all have a detrimental effect on our mood!

With all of these things it’s important that we get to know ourselves and what works and doesn’t work for us. Is there anything else you’d specifically add? If so please do add it in the comments – the more we can do to keep ourselves healthy the better!


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