Looking After Your Mental Health
5 a Day for a Fit Brain
Your mental health is important. The great news is evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take at any time of the year to improve our mental wellbeing and at Oxford CBT we are passionate about supporting people achieve these. It comes as no surprise that for many, 2020 has been a difficult year, with research showing lockdown and social distancing has had a negative impact on mental wellbeing for people of all ages.
Here are our top five tips to improve your mental wellbeing:
Feeling close, connected and valued by other people is a fundamental human need and one that has perhaps been particularly difficult over the past few months, especially for those who live alone. Social relationships are key for promoting wellbeing and acting as a guard against mental ill health:
- Pick up the phone and speak to your work colleague or friend instead of sending an email or text.
- Put five minutes aside and find out how someone really is.
- If able, meet for a socially distanced coffee with a friend for a good catch up.
- Message or phone someone you haven’t heard from recently – they may be struggling and your contact could have positive effects for you both!
2. Be Active
Some people love exercise, others hate it, but it’s important to remember that staying active doesn’t have to be going for a run, heading to the gym or doing something that requires expensive equipment. What’s more, regular physical activity has been associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety and even been found to slow age-related cognitive decline. Try to build these into your daily routine to ensure you keep active:
- If there is an option and you are able, take the stairs instead of the escalator or lift.
- Go for a walk at lunchtime, a change of surroundings and fresh air can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
- Lockdown launched hundreds of hours of fitness classes online, many of which are still free to view. The options are endless from hip-hop dancing to yoga, pilates to cross-training, and all can be done from the comfort of your living room!
- If restrictions allow, have a kick-about in a local park or go for a walk with some friends.
3. Learn Something New
As a child, you learn something new almost every day. As we get older this slowly decreases as we prioritise family life and responsibilities. Research has shown continued learning through life enhances self-esteem, encourages social interaction and a more active life. With adults who regularly set goals to work towards being found to have higher wellbeing levels, there really is no excuse to not learn something new today. Here are a few ideas:
- Find out something new about your friends or colleagues. This could be where they grew up, what their hobbies are or what they hope to achieve this year!
- Learn a new language
- Cook a new recipe
- Start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try
4. Take notice
Feed your soul by slowing down. Studies have shown that savouring the moment can help reaffirm your life priorities and heightened awareness can enhance your self-understanding, allowing you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day – it’s amazing how much better this can make you feel.
- Take notice of how your colleagues are feeling or acting
- Notice the colours in nature around you
- Really listen to what another person is saying.
Seek happiness for others and by doing so, find your own happiness. Research has shown individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Provide an act of random kindness for a friend or stranger. It will make their day and yours!
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are Cognitive Behavioural Therapists or Psychologists, offering evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. Please get in touch for more information or call us on 01865 920077.