2020 has been an ‘interesting’ year, has it not?
By interesting, we mean incredibly difficult for many people. It has been a year of loss, of sacrifice, and personal challenges that no one ever thought that they would have to face.
Because of this, many people have let their own wellbeing and mental health slip. It is quite understandable; homeschooling children during the school closures, dealing with the ever-changing rules and guidelines, and making sure that physically, you are kept safe from the coronavirus is more than enough for most people to deal with at one time. When something has to give, it is quite often their own wellbeing that goes first.
However, we are now getting to a point where the end of the pandemic may be in sight, and even if it isn’t, the beginning of a new year is drawing ever closer.
2021 could be the year where you put you make an effort to take care of yourself and protect your mental health and wellbeing. Here, we look at some scientifically proven ways to improve your life.
It does not matter what the weather is like outside, grab a coat, and your boots and head out into the great outdoors. It has been shown time and time again that getting outside for some fresh air and to connect with the environment is a sure-fire way to lift the spirits and make you feel much better about yourself. It has also been suggested that living in an area surrounded by parks and gardens and open spaces directly correlates with a greater quality of life, satisfaction, and happiness.
Carry out an act of kindness
You have probably heard of the phrase ‘RAOK’ or a random act of kindness, or the concept of paying it forward, and it really is something that can do you the world of good. It does not have to be a grand gesture – spending an hour volunteering, putting a coffee behind the bar for someone, making a donation to the local food bank; all of these, as well as helping someone, can give your mental wellbeing a boost.
Do something that you want to do
Maybe you have always wanted to get your teeth sorted but you have spent time worrying about what veneers cost – well, 2021 may be the time to stop thinking ‘oh I would love to do XYZ’ – and actually do XYZ. If this year has shown us anything, it is that life is far too short to not do the things we want.
Meditation is not a hippy idea that is based on woo – it can actually help to refocus your thoughts and ground you. It does not need to involve any complicated routines; simply sitting quietly and emptying your mind can help to relieve your levels of stress, boost emotional stability, and improve compassion. It has also been thought that regular mediation can have a positive effect on your physical health, too.
Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet
One of the best things that you can do for your wellbeing is to make sure that you are taking care of the inside of your buddy. The key to this is a healthy diet – and we all know how important fruit and vegetables are for doing this. Aim to eat at least five portions a day, more if possible. Berries, in particular blueberries, are classed as superfoods because of the numerous health benefits that come from eating them.
Lose yourself in a good book
Escaping to another world via the written word is a great way to forget the stresses of everyday life. It also helps to keep our mind sharp as we get older or if we spend significant amounts of time alone. It is also thought to enable us to be more creative, more empathetic, and can open our minds to new concepts and beliefs; all of which are superb for our mental wellbeing.
Laugh out loud
LOL is not just an acronym that the younger generation use in digital communication. Laughing out loud is something that can completely flip your day and your mood. There is a reason why laughter is described as the best medicine. Whether you have a chuckle on your own at a funny film or proper belly laughs with your loved ones, laughter can help to foster relationships and improve mental health.
Make sure you get enough sleep
Sleep is crucial, for both optimum physical health and mental health too. When we are asleep, our bodies are resting and recovering and our mind is processing. By not getting enough good quality sleep, we deprive ourselves of both. When it comes to making sure we have enough sleep, and that it is of good enough quality, we are generally making the same mistakes. We do not regulate our bedtimes or wake up times, we use screens and devices in bed, our rooms are not quiet or dark enough and we drink too much caffeine. By implementing a few simple sleep hygiene rules, we can make sure our sleep is the best it can be.
Tidy home, tidy mind…or something like that.
Clutter can often be a source of stress and is tied to our emotions. Having a purge of stuff that we no longer need, want or use can be symbolic of our mind. Clearing it out can lighten the mind and show new paths and clear spaces to think and move more logically and freely.
Sex has been hailed as a form of natural pain relief for stomach cramps and headaches, as well as being a superb stress reliever. So, grab your loved one, head upstairs, and get it on – all in the name of science!
We spend so much of our time connected to our devices, and while they can have many advantages – especially at the moment when it may be our only way to keep in touch with our family and friends, and communities, it can also have some negative effects on our mental health. For starters, it can prevent us from sleeping properly. It also can impede on the relationships that we have with the people in our home with us. Many of us compare ourselves and our lives to those we see on social media, no matter how unrealistic they can be. Try having a day away from the screens once a week and see how refreshed and rejuvenated you feel afterward.
Get some exercise
Along with eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep, exercise is one of the key things for wellness. Pound the pavements, get to the gym, slide into the swimming pool or even dance around the kitchen to your favorite tunes – finding ways to incorporate as much physical activity as possible into your day will have a huge benefit on how you feel, both inside and out.
We can’t control the external factors. There is nothing that we can do about the coronavirus pandemic apart from following the rules and keep ourselves safe. What we can do, however, is to keep an eye on our own mental health and wellbeing and at the first sign of it not being as good as it should be, seeking help and taking steps to get it back on track, as quickly as possible.