Modern life comes with its own unique and often strange pressures. As we invented and became the top predator, human’s left nature’s traditional structure behind, along with the physical perils associated with it. However, leaving these external worries behind seems to have opened the door for more internalised problems – mental health.
Statistically, one in four adults will go through some form of mental illness each year in the UK. Suicide is currently the leading cause of death in 20-34-year-olds. This is particularly prominent in men who are three times more likely to commit suicide, for example, research reveals that 84 men take their own lives each week.
So, with 75% of young people in need of mental health treatment but not receiving it, this article will look at simple things you can do to improve and even maintain your mental health. This is not to act in any way as an alternative for professional help, which – if you feel as though you may be suffering from mental illness – you should strongly consider.
Often, in the grips of mental health issues, the motivation to perform simple tasks can seem to elude you at the time and then taunt you afterwards. Below are a few short steps that could help you find a bit of clarity and increase your motivation for tasks.
Improve mental health with these simple things
Motivation and energy walk hand-in-hand. You’ll often find that a sedentary (one that is sofa-bound) will have much less energy than an active person, even though they have done less. When you exercise (bear in mind, I’m not talking about running 10km everyday, though if you can – why not?), a few different things happen to your body including the release of endorphins which will make you feel happy for a spell. This process increases with intensity each time as your ability to do more exercise will increase. Depending on your current fitness level this could start with just a ten-minute brisk walk each morning.
Stemming from chemical and hormone imbalances in the brain, mental illness is a biological concern that we are only really just starting to understand. This in mind, it seems obvious – as it does with physical ailments – that what you put into your body will directly affect what you get out of it?
While you might have been bombarded with food hygiene propaganda before, it is important to know that suffers of mental health often struggle to wash, eat and generally take care of themselves. This simply spins the depression carousel as the less you eat, the less energy you will have.
Most important, in my opinion, is breakfast. Skipping breakfast means that your metabolism doesn’t get the boost it needs in the morning and it also means your body will use its energy reserves instead. If you eat a healthy, good-sized breakfast, your body will kick-start and you’ll find yourself howling for more come lunchtime, giving you more energy and a healthier body.
Although we dabble in spontaneity, especially on the weekends, routine can offer many comforts and can also give you a sense of purpose – even if that purpose is not world-changing. This is why things like exercise can be very useful as it gives you a daily period of time where your only focus is the exercise. Sometimes having just a brief spell from thinking can clear your mind.
Mindfulness, an increasingly popular practise, looks to retrain the mental process to deal with negative thoughts by clearing the mind. Perhaps not my best example, but a dog – in good health – is almost always happy because it doesn’t think about things that have happened or things that might happen, they are in the present moment. Now, humans have to make plans and remember things so truly living in the moment is difficult, but the principle is the same. Instead of being like a dog all the time, just be like a dog for a short while each day.