It's world Mental Health day and now more than ever it's important to raise awareness of Mental Health issues and how to look after yours.
1. Get closer to nature
We all live with worries and fears, uncertainties, losses that leave us sad and pressures that make us feel stressed.
Nature can have a really calming effect on us. We have been living around other animals and plants for thousands of years. Some people say nature helps them feel calmer, more hopeful and less alone. Our research found that going for a walk was the UK adults' favourite way of coping with stress during the pandemic in 2020.
In Japan, some people use "forest bathing", which may improve their mental health. So going to a forest or wood and experiencing the different smells, sounds and textures may really help. To get the best out of nature's healing effects, try tuning your senses to what's around you – the trees, plants, birds and animals, for instance, and water such as ponds or the seashore. Take a deep breath and see how you feel. The idea is to get connected with your natural surroundings.
For more information and ideas, see the MHF guide Thriving With Nature, produced by the Mental Health Foundation and wildlife charity WWF.
2. Keep moving
Our bodies and minds are connected, so looking after ourselves physically also helps us prevent problems with our mental health (it works the other way around, too).
Moving our bodies – with sport, gardening, dancing, cycling, walking the dog, cleaning or going to the gym, for example – are great ways to improve our mental and physical health.
Exercise releases "feel good" hormones that reduce feelings of stress and anger. It also helps us feel better about our bodies. It can improve our sleep too. If it involves other people, like being part of a team, a class or a group we see regularly, that can also boost our mental health.
We don't have to be professional athletes, or sporty, to get the benefits of being physically active. From walking to dancing and basketball to the gym, the best exercise is simply the one we enjoy.
3. Eat healthy
Food and drink affect our bodies, brains and mood - for good or bad.
Sugary snacks and drinks can give us a temporary "high" or sense of comfort that can feel irresistible. But they soon leave us feeling exhausted or jittery.
Caffeine in coffee, tea, or so-called energy drinks can also have this effect.
A balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruit is essential for good physical and mental health.
How we eat is also important. Having meals with other people can help to grow relationships – with family, friends, partners, and colleagues. This is really important in protecting everyone's mental health and preventing problems.
Food can also get mixed up with our feelings. Some people over-eat or under-eat when they are upset. It may help to talk to someone we trust and get professional support if we need it.
Check out more at Mentalhealth.org.uk
Source: Mental Health Foudation
The MHF have a fantastic challenge this November to walk, run or stroll your way to 12,000 steps a day throughout November to raise vital funds for the foundation.