I’m always looking for new ways to improve my mental health, and I thought to myself there have to be others who also want the same thing. I decided to write a post about all the wonderful things I have discovered over the past few years that aid me in keeping my mental health in check, well, most of the time.
As you may or may not know, I have bipolar disorder, and it can be a full-time job ensuring I lead a balanced life. I have to take each day as it comes, as I can wake up different from yesterday or feel different within hours. This is known as rapid cycling, and I tend to do this.
However, all the tips and tricks listed here are to promote mental wellbeing for everyone, including those with bipolar, depression or anxiety. It took me a long time to write this article as I kept getting sidetracked by various gorgeous products and great services.
Plus, I did a lot of research about the mental health aspect via studies conducted in this area, so you be assured, the 10 ways to improve your mental health is thoroughly researched.
Improve Your Mental Health
1. Mind Cards
Mind Cards are not only sublime to look at. They are great at motivating the brain to actually do something positive. If I write a list of things I need to do, I ignore my list, maybe it is just me that does this, but with Mind Cards, the choice of activity is chosen for you.
I do love the look of them too. I have some on order, and I will be ordering a journal from LSW London, the people who make the cards. They only cost £9.99 at the time of writing, and they can change your day. The brain needs a kick up the derriere sometimes, and these are perfect for those who love a little excitement in our lives.
2. Apple A Day
Call me old fashioned, but I believe in the saying, and it is true, an apple a day will keep the doctor away, or is it a dentist. I always get them mixed up, but that still takes nothing away from the humble apple. Packed with nutrients and vitamins, it can improve your mental health.
Take a look at all its wonders:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Omega 6 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Dietary Fibre
The omegas help our brains function, and we store serotonin in our bellies; an apple is a good source of dietary fibre. The potassium helps your organs to stay healthy, and your brain is an organ. Phosphorous is all about healthy bone formation, and what do bones produce? Blood, this means the blood going to your brain will be in tip-top condition, giving you better mental health.
Grab yourself a crate load today, you won’t be sorry.
3. Sleep Tracking
As I have stated in many articles before, I have trouble with my sleep, and I am always coming up with new ideas to try to help me get some much-needed shut-eye. At the moment, I am currently awaiting an order of melatonin to help me achieve sleep.
I am also looking at sleep aids and apps to help me. Some of them look very promising, as I think the key is to know what the problems are in the first place. Some sleep aids monitor your current sleeping patterns and then give you a breakdown of what is occurring.
I personally like the one from SleepOn; it monitors your sleep behaviour, and then you can analyse the problem times. It might be you keep getting woken up at 4 am without realising it in the morning, and then this leads to a disturbing day. You will then look at your sleep performance and work out; it’s the birds waking you at 4 am so you will need to wear earplugs.
With a little bit of detective work, you should be able to work out why their are certain blips in your sleep pattern.
4. Walking, Boring But Worth It
You have probably heard it a thousand times before that walking is good for you. Well, I’m about to tell you again, it is good for you. In ancient days we would have walked everywhere; we had to, that is until we discovered we could ride horses; humans always look for the easy option.
However, we need to walk. It is what we are designed for, and much like our ancestors, we still need to get our quota in because it is good for our physical and mental wellbeing. The consensus is we should walk about 10,000 steps per day, but I say we need to do more than this.
Why do I suggest more, well, because of data from tribes around the world? Research suggests that a particular type of walking should be undertaken, and it is the walking we all do, day in and day out, called The Levy walk. Basically, the walking you would do if going out on ramble with family on a Sunday afternoon is long strides and short strides.
Forget power walking; just take an amble and see where it leads you; think of yourself out on a gathering mission for fruits and nuts.
5. Mindful Eating
There is a way to eat food, and the way should be done as often as possible. It is all about being mindful when we eat, savouring the texture, the aroma, the taste and enjoying every morsel. Rather than shovelling it in because you have run out of time to eat, or you just eat far too quickly.
Set aside time to really get involved with your food, from the preparation of ingredients to the final mindful act of eating slowly and respectfully. It will aid your digestion, thus helping your serotonin in your stomach; this will then lead to good feelings in the brain.
The act of smelling your food before you eat and looking at it rather than going straight in with your knife and fork will aid you towards a sort of meditation.
If you are looking for a healthy and absorbing way to eat, then you can’t go far wrong with Mindful Chef, the UK only. You can create appetising meals that will be healthy for you, but you can treat it as part of your daily therapy to better mental wellness.
I’m not much of a cook, but I can follow instructions, and the meals from Mindful Chef are not only a delight to the tastebuds, but they look great too. Forget all the same colour food, which is bland; you need to liven up your senses; it is what the brain needs.
6. At Home Therapy
You can undertake some simple therapies in the comfort of your own home, and one of my favourites is learning how to live in the now. I wrote an article on the raisin technique, and it helps to calm the mind and allows you to live in the moment.
You can also learn to meditate, and there are a thousand apps for such occasion; in fact, too many, and it can get confusing which one is the best for you.
I tend to set aside some time to meditate, usually about an hour, it is a must for me to have this time, but you can get away with 10 minutes. You can see my article on meditation here.
There are also videos on Youtube of the sea and shoreline or trickling rivers to watch to help calm the mind, and I recommend these if you are not in the mood for doing anything but want something to look at.
I often get those moods and stick a Youtube video on to watch, just for the pure zoning out factor.
7. Get Your Daily Dose of Iron and D3
With our indoor lifestyle, we do not get as much vitamin D3 as we should, and a lack of it can lead to depression; if you don’t believe check out the findings from a research paper, their conclusion is as follows:
Our analyses are consistent with the hypothesis that low vitamin D concentration is associated with depression, and highlight the need for randomised controlled trials of vitamin D for the prevention and treatment of depression to determine whether this association is causal.Cambridge.Org
As you can see, we must get enough of it. Our ancestors would not have had a problem getting this vitamin on board as they spent a lot of their time outside, but our progression is not actual progress for a body designed for the nomadic lifestyle.
The same goes for Iron, we need this, and a lack of it can cause you to feel depressed. I often suffer from Anemia; I have done since I was a kid, so I regularly take iron supplements. I always know when my iron is low as I start becoming depressed and my energy goes through the floor.
When this happens, I take a high strength Iron tablet every other day for a couple of weeks, rectifying the problem. I stop taking my multivitamin with extra iron until I have finished my course, and then I resume again.
I would advise getting yourself some iron supplements and vitamin d as you can improve your mood with this simple adjustment. I trust the brand Vitabiotics; you’ve probably heard of them. They are experts in nutritional supplements and vitamins and minerals.
The body and mind are connected and I fully endorse some me time with an aromatherapy massage for when depression sets in. I have to make a huge effort to get off the couch to get one, but I always feel better.
I also massage myself; I use a variety of different lotions and potions, all aromatherapy based. Not only does it relax me enough to be able to sleep, depending on which oil I use, but I may also feel invigorated. Patchouli has this effect. However, I cannot use aromatherapy when I feel hypomanic, as this can be more harmful than good.
This is why I know aromatherapy massage can work wonders for lifting the mood. Otherwise, why would it trigger intense hypomania if it did nothing?
Book yourself into a massage therapists or do it yourself with aromatherapy oils and lotions.
9. Outdoors and the Garden
I’ve already spoken about vitamin d3, but being outdoors has more than your daily vitamin of d3 intake; it can improve your mind also. If you are lucky enough to have a garden, there can be no better enjoyment than raising your own seedlings and seeing them flourish in the summer months.
Even if you buy your plants fully grown, the very act of planting them and seeing their wonderful colours and textures brings about a happy feeling. If I could bottle that feeling, I would, but you can’t. It is the very act of doing which creates the feel-good endorphins your body releases.
If you don’t have a garden, I would suggest daily walks to a park or woodland; as I have talked about forest therapy in a previous article, you will open up your mind to the sights, smells and sounds of this wonderful planet. Not only that, trees produce the oxygen we need to breathe, so hugging one is a sign of gratitude for your very existence.
Use your time outside wisely, make an effort to just potter; it is healthy for mind and body. Planting a specimen tree will not only aid you now but you in future years. You can admire something new in the garden every day, from ants hurrying about their business to birds singing and building their nests.
In ancient times we spent our days outside and if you have a garden, then spend as much of your free time in it as possible, even if it is just lounging about in a hammock, it is better than being cooped up indoors.
10. Self Care
You may think this whole article is about self-care, and this is true, but there is that special time called me time where your whole purpose is to focus on yourself for an hour, two if you have the time to spare.
It would help if you had this special time, and hopefully, you can schedule some me time for a couple of times or more per week. You will need to remove all distractions, so no social media, tv or anything electrical. This is just about you.
I like to spend my special time reading, but yours could be another hobby. It is important to be by yourself to learn to be happy in your own company. If you are a very sociable person, you may think nothing is better than spending time with family or friends. However, our mind needs quiet time.
With the hubbub of everyday life and the stresses and strains of the pandemic, it is more important than ever to take your mental well-being seriously. To take stock of yourself and be absorbed in yourself is the perfect way to relax and unwind.
I light an aromatherapy candle or add some oil to my diffuser to set the ambience in the room. I’m not one for music, but if you wanted to create a fulfilling environment. Some classical music on low would help add to your me time, but keep your phone away from you, so you don’t feel tempted to pick it up.
I then meditate for 10 minutes and wipe my mind clear, or as clear as it is going to get. I then choose a light-hearted book to inspire me; this is not the time for mystery thrillers or horror stories. I then engross myself with a blanket across my legs, a mug of cocoa and some custard cream biscuits.
The books I tend to go through are wildlife photography or interior design, or I might read my copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a special book if ever there was one.
I hope these 10 ideas will help you improve your mental wellbeing, and I am sure you will add to the list. Why not leave a comment below to say how you improve your mental health.
Peace & Blessings