5 things you can do to improve your mental health

Mental health awareness week

The topic of mental health has come to the fore in recent years - and rightly so. For too long, the focus had solely been on physical health but these days, you're as likely to hear conversations about mental health. Gone are the days where any mention of mental health resulted in awkward silence or references to "madness". Thankfully, there's now a better understanding of the issues related to mental health, as well as the spectrum that exists.

Among men, the need for a conversation around mental is particularly necessary. According to the Mental Health Foundation, suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales. More than cancer or any other 'disease'. A lot has been done already but so much more needs to be done.

Here are some tips to help you maintain great mental health

Sleep well


Sleep well


Our bodies release a hormone called melatonin that makes us feel naturally tired at around 10-11pm. If you go with it and head to bed as you feel tired, you’ll sleep better. Try establishing a bedtime routine that can help you recognise and promote that wave. Turning off the TV and listening to music, having a milky drink or enjoying a warm bath are good ways to rest the mind, and open ourselves up to sleepiness.

You need to know how much sleep you need to feel good. According to Tempur, it’s likely to be seven to eight hours, but it could be as little as four. Try keeping a sleep diary or tracking your sleep with a wearable device (ideally not your phone). If you have a good idea of how much sleep you need to feel good and what affects your sleep, you can make sure you establish good habits, or pinpoint issues.

Find someone to talk to

For most men, it can be so easy to turn everything into a joke. Even when there are significant issues to be dealt with, many men never talk about the issues they are facing. Mainly due to embarrassment or fear of being judged so they hide behind humour but fail to address the real issues. But thankfully help is becoming more available, especially in environments men find naturally comfortable. According to a survey by men's mental health charity The Lions Barber Collective, men are now spending more time in their barbershops each month than at their local pubs. Majority also prefer to discuss sensitive issues with their barbers.

"There's open communication in a barbershop. There's a relationship, a trust," said Eric Muhammad, owner of A New You Barbershop, one of the barbers who participated. "We have a lot more influence than just the doctor walking in the door.”

Find someone to talk to


Finding the courage to talk about that difficult situation can be daunting but it is very necessary. Not only can it be the beginning of finding a solution, it can also help someone else in their own process of working their way through whatever they are going through.

Eat well

When feeling low, it can be so easy to indulge in comfort food, often unhealthy, in the hope that it will lift your spirits. But while comfort food might offer a brief moment of joy, it can make you sluggish and affect your immune system.

One way to maintain mental health is to incorporate mood enhancing food such as fresh vegetables and fish that is rich in Omega 3. These foods might not always be the most exciting but what they lack in excitement value, they more than make up for in health benefits.

Exercise

Exercise

It's a widely held belief that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self esteem, self control and an ability to rise to a challenge. Some scientists have also suggested that it can help with mild depression and that it can help protect against against anxiety. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood.

If you are tired, exercise tends to give you energy. If you are worried, it can take your mind off your concerns for a while. Even if you can’t 'exercise', a 15 minute walk can help you to clear your mind and relax.

Laugh regularly



Laughter, like exercise, has been shown to release endorphins. And this is not just about laughter lifting your mood. Some studies even suggest that the physical exertion involved in the process of laughing can give you some of the benefits of a light workout. The recommended amount to have this effect is 10 minutes continual laughter. This is difficult to achieve on your own without external triggers, which is why regularly attending a laughter club can help.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, laughter therapy is a kind of cognitive-behavioral therapies that could make physical, psychological, and social relationships healthy, ultimately improving the quality of life. Decreasing stress-making hormones found in the blood, laughter can mitigate the effects of stress. You also don't need any specialised preparations to laugh which makes it even more accessible.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you' re not ignoring your mental health. Make sure you're giving yourself the best chance to be the best version of you possible.

If you need urgent help, please get in touch with The Mental Health Foundation who can put you in touch with the services and organisations that can help: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/your-mental-health/getting-help

Rehab 4 Alcoholism is a free and impartial helpline for people troubled with drug and alcohol issues. Rehab 4 Alcoholism aims to save lives by stopping addiction before it becomes too late.

Tel: 0800 111 4108
https://www.rehab4alcoholism.com

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