It’s never been more important to look after your mental health right now. Everyone is talking about it. And you know what? I am so pleased they are. You see mental health has always been close to my heart. I have seen people around me including my family suffer from it for years. And it made me realise from a very young age that we needed to nurture our minds in the same way as we nurture our bodies. And if I am completely honest, that is the main reason I got into fitness as a child. It was to lift my mood and avoid having depression or similar in life. I saw how debilitating it can be.
The mood can be influenced by many things – work, loved ones, strangers, road rage. And while we can contain the short-lived feelings of sadness, anger and resentment, it’s the long-term effects on the mood that are a problem. When the mood cannot be explained or rationalised and we swing from one extreme to another, that’s when we need to address the problem. And as we are currently living in a limbo situation during COVID-19, it’s important to keep mental health in check. Just like we exercise our body, we need to exercise our mind. Here are my tips on things to do to try and keep our moods healthy.
Don’t force it
Let your mood be. The more you try to change it and pretend it’s not happening, the worse it will make you feel. Instead, sit with your feelings, and know that it will pass. Better still, if you’re able to pick up the phone to a friend or a loved one, let them know how you’re feeling. Just don’t suffer in silence in the same way you wouldn’t if you had a physical injury. Acknowledge it’s a mood and it will pass.
Write a journal
Writing down your thoughts and feeling is a great way of identifying things, situations and people that stress you out. It’s similar to talking to someone but you don’t have to filter anything. It’s a great release and can feel like a burden off your shoulders. Similarly, write down all the things that you are grateful in life. Focusing on good things can help elevate the mood and help put some perspective in your life.
Rest up and sleep
I cannot reiterate how important this. Getting a good night’s shut-eye is crucial for our mood and helps us to rationally process things around us. Just try recalling a time when you had a bad night’s sleep and how cranky you were. Stick to a sleep routine by having a soak in the tub, reading a book and switching off social media. I tend to keep a notepad by the bed and jot down anything that worries me so I can tackle it the next day.
It’s so easy to reach out for unhealthy fatty sugary snacks when we’re not feeling ourselves. And although that chocolate bar might make you feel for a nanosecond, it will unlikely help you feel better in the long term. We all know having a healthy balanced diet with lots of vegetables and plenty of fish will help you get the right nutrients to lift your mood.
Take time out and breathe
Taking deep breaths can help calm the mind. Many studies are suggesting that focusing on the breath calms the nervous system and can help treat mild forms of depression. Yogic breathing helps you relax and manage stress. Breathe in through the nose for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of three. Exhale through the mouth for a count of six. Repeat five or six times and notice how the body relaxes.
Last but not least – just as I said at the beginning. Exercise for me has been key in keeping me uplifted and avoid getting into the depths of depression. Recent research by Total Fitness has found that 38% of Brits regularly exercise to improve mood and relieve stress. Following the lockdown announcement, it has been revealed that 38% of Brits claimed to suffer from depression and 36% were found to be struggling with anxiety, so many are turning to exercise as a way help boost their mood. And exercise comes in several forms – walk, jump up and down, do some stretching or dance around the room. Basically whatever your preference just move your body. Even a few minutes will give you a new outlook. Endorphins are released, stresses can be taken out through exercise and gentle options like yoga and Pilates can help reset and calm the mind.
Tags: anxiety, balanced diet, breathing exercises, breathing for mind, COVID-19, deep breathing, depression, exercise for the mind, healthy food, lift the mood, lockdown, pilates, quarantine, sleep, the mental health awareness week, yoga for mind body, yogic breathing
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