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It’s World Mental Health day. What do you do to maintain your mental health?

It’s World Mental Health day. What do you do to maintain your mental health?

Most of us make some effort to take care of our physical health – eating well, taking exercise, limiting alcohol (or at least we think about it) – but what about our mental health?

On World Mental Health day it can be tempting to think it’s all about mental illness! In these times where the world can often seem unsafe, unpredictable and downright depressing, it’s especially important to think about how we actively maintain our mental wellbeing.

Ironically though, when we find ourselves under increasing pressure, we often stop doing the things that build it. Adrenaline and high risk situations can become a drug (and this is particularly a problem if you work within the emergency services or stressful environments). The more time we spend in that high alert state, the more we have to rebalance by creating a mentally and physically calm state.

Relaxation and fun are two key words here. If you mentally switch off at this point or read them and roll your eyes – then this is actually a sign that your mental resilience is wearing thin! If we feel averse to taking time out to relax and have fun it most likely means that our brain has gone into a chronic stress state and wants to focus purely on survival and threat.

Steps need to be taken to rebalance this or you could be headed for burnout, chronic anxiety or depression. Ask yourself – what did I used to do that I really enjoyed and when did I last do that? The lower your resilience the less likely you are to feel motivated towards pleasurable activities. The key is to “fake it until you make it” – the good feelings will come back but you have to be disciplined and determined. Here are some ideas for switching on a relaxed state of body and mind but take a bit of time and come up with a list of your own favourites!

  • Wrap up against the weather and take a walk in nature
  • Enjoy a warm bath with bubbles and candles
  • Watch a comedy film – ditch the drama and violence
  • Play your favourite up-beat music and dance to it
  • Wear or use something that you normally save for “best”
  • Browse in a book store or go to the library and get an inspiring autobiography
  • Call a good friend and make arrangements to meet up

Take one small step today to keep your mental health in good shape!