Simple steps to better mental wellbeing
We’d all like to find more enjoyment in life and feel at ease with our thoughts. Or, in other words, we’re looking to feel more “sound”. Luckily, there are things we can do to take our mental wellbeing into our own hands.
Small, achievable goals are what add up to sustainable change. It can be helpful to think of your wellbeing as a cup that constantly needs filling up – once it’s starting to run empty, it can leave you feeling unable to cope with little things in life. The good part? It can easily be refilled.
Here are some easy steps to refill your wellbeing cup.
Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest and digest” response. This promotes calmness and relaxation in your body so it can carry out regulatory functions.
To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, you need to slow down. Try taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, gradually extending the length of your exhales.
Human beings are social creatures. We thrive off social interactions. Even if you would describe yourself as being an “introvert”, social isolation can be damaging to your mental wellbeing.
45% of UK adults report having experienced loneliness, which can be particularly difficult if you’re already dealing with mental health issues. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate relationships with other people.
If you’re feeling lonely, striking up a conversation with somebody at a cafe or shop can go a long way towards lifting your mood. What begins as small-talk could even lead to an interesting conversation.
Although engaging with strangers can be a great way to socialise, strong relationships with friends or family are also incredibly important. We all need people we can count on in times of difficulty. These relationships should be nurturing and healthy, and can be found anywhere such as social groups, the gym or at work.
So what are the signs of a healthy relationship?
- Good communication
Nobody works at their best when sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can turn into a vicious cycle too – if you’re not feeling mentally well, it’s often more challenging to switch off and get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia can begin to wreak havoc with your sleep schedule.
Some steps to getting better sleep include:
- Establishing a night-time routine to get your mind in the habit of winding down.
- Switching off technology an hour or two before bedtime to avoid blue light and excessive mental stimulation.
- Doing something relaxing before bed, such as a few easy stretches or a warm bath.
- Writing down worries earlier in the day so they’re off your mind when trying to sleep.
- Reducing caffeine consumption for at least a few hours before bedtime.
Physical and mental health are intrinsically connected. Stress and anxiety affect the body as well as the mind, and can cause physical symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations and tense muscles.
When you exercise, your brain releases “happy hormones” such as endorphins and dopamine. These chemicals provide you with an immediate hit of positivity. Studies have also suggested that exercise improves neuroplasticity – your ability to learn new skills and behaviours. This is essential for improving your mental wellbeing and developing healthy habits.
Here are some ideas to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine:
- Take the stairs rather than the lift wherever possible.
- Aim to incorporate a 15 minute walk into your lunch break.
- Join an exercise class or sports group.
- Agree to exercise weekly with a friend and hold each other accountable.
Challenge unhelpful thoughts
It’s easy to get trapped in an unhelpful thought loop, but interrogating why you’re feeling a certain way can be the first step to taking positive action. It’s easy to just accept difficult thoughts, but challenging them can be a great way to break free of the cycle.
Here are several negative thought patterns you might be experiencing.
Do you find yourself thinking of things as either “success” or “failure”? If you’re struggling to find a middle-ground, try writing out your feelings and investigating whether such extreme statements are really true.
Catastrophising can make it feel like the end of the world when something goes wrong. If you find yourself thinking “I’m never going to make anything of myself” after failing a test or not being chosen for a job, it could be time to ask yourself whether these thoughts are “facts” or “feelings”.
We can’t see inside other people’s minds, but it’s easy to fall into the habit of predicting their thoughts. This is particularly common if you’re experiencing anxiety – you might worry that people are judging you or don’t actually enjoy spending time with you. When these thoughts arise, ask yourself if you have any concrete evidence that the person is feeling this way.
Similar to black-and-white thinking, with overgeneralisation you might find yourself thinking “nothing ever goes right for me” once something bad happens. Try challenging yourself and asking “is this really true?” or thinking of examples where this hasn’t been the case.
We certainly can’t predict the future, but it’s easy for worries about the next week, month or year to spiral out of control. If this is happening for you, try jotting these worries down and grounding yourself in the present moment. Take notice of your surroundings and the sensations you’re currently experiencing.
Ed can Help
We understand how difficult it can be to improve your mental well-being if you’re trapped in a cycle of negative thoughts and feelings. Whether you’re dealing with stress and anxiety or more complex issues such as PTSD, Ed can Help to restore your brain’s natural state of happiness.
All you need to do is to open the app and plug-in your headphones. As you listen to one of our 20-minute sound-based therapy sessions, the sound helps to untangle and disrupt unhelpful brain connections, making way for new, healthier habits to be built.
Ready to take your first step towards better mental wellbeing? Get started with your free trial today on IOS or Android.