Tips to Nurture your Mental Health and Well-being
Nurturing your mental health and well-being is not just something to leave until you are feeling low, stressed, or anxious, it is an investment that everyone should make in themselves. So, whether you are beginning to struggle or are feeling mentally strong, start taking steps to nurture your mental health and well-being.
In this article, we will look at some of the areas where you can make positive steps to nurturing your mental health and embedding them into a healthy routine.
Creating a routine can sound passé or even military, particularly when you are studying/working in a creative capacity. However, establishing a routine allows you to fill your day with healthy rituals that eventually become habitual – requiring less mental energy and willpower to complete, thus freeing up more brain space for other thoughts and tasks (especially creative ones). Also, when we feel stressed it is our habits that we fall back and rely on, as they require less thought to complete – so let us start building a healthy routine.
Sleep… before you start any day, it is essential to have slept well. Lack of or even too much sleep can create a vicious and unhealthy sleep cycle. Finding out how much sleep suits you best, requires some trial and error – try using the Sleep Cycle – Sleep Tracker App or similar, to help you track your sleep times. Once you have found the optimal amount of sleep, you can work out the ideal times for going to sleep and waking up. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time regulates your internal clock and becomes a natural habit.
Mornings… whether you have 10 minutes or two hours spare in your mornings, fill that time with positive actions that will eventually become habits. Here are some examples of positive actions to help you find the right mix for you:
- Make your bed, even the smallest of achievements each morning can boost self-esteem and create lead to a positive frame of mind for the day.
- Let there be light, whether it is natural light or a lamp (on darker mornings), bringing light into your mornings reduces drowsiness and increases alertness.
- Hydrate, drink a glass of water in the morning hydrates your body and fights morning grogginess.
- Exercise, whether it is walking, jogging, yoga, a workout or a fitness class, exercise releases endorphins which helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Self-care, basic self-care tasks, such as washing, brushing your teeth, styling your hair, putting on makeup and getting dressed, all help build your self-esteem.
- Motivation, add an activity you enjoy or one that works towards a goal you have set yourself as a source of motivation to your morning. Whether that is in the form of exercise, completing a daily crossword puzzle, drinking your favourite blend of coffee, or making a tasty breakfast, embed something you enjoy into your morning routine.
After your, now positive, morning, a considerable proportion of your day is likely to be spent studying, but ensure you allot some time for breaks and lunch. Class schedules are likely to dictate when these can be, but it is tempting and easy to stay at your desk and skip these breaks. Make a conscious effort to leave your desk, even if it is just to make a quick cuppa or get some fresh air and do not skip lunch – you need to keep yourself fuelled for the day.
Check out our Creating a Productive Study Space article, for hints, tips, apps, and hacks to create a productive study space at home.
Connecting and Disconnecting
Maintaining healthy relationships with your friends and family is important for your mental well-being (as well as for those in your support network), so embed reaching out to a friend or family member into your daily routine – short breaks and lunchtime are good for this. You do not necessarily need to be discussing your feelings or anxieties (although that would be great), even recommending what to watch on Netflix adds to the feeling of connectedness and distances feelings of loneliness.
Don’t forget, at MPW your personal tutor is part of your support network and is available to support you in all matters academic and personal.
Now that we have embedded connecting into our routine, it is time to consider disconnecting. Set aside some time near the end of each day to disconnect from social media, the news, and the endless stream of pop-up notifications and reflect. Reflect on the positive steps you have made that day and what you are grateful for. Mindfulness techniques help you focus on the present rather than on anxieties, try the Headspace App, helping you with meditation and mindfulness.
While we are on the topic of mindfulness and (dis)connecting, the theme for our Mental Health Awareness in 2020 was kindness – check out the tips and thoughts for spreading kindness from a week packed full of nurturing mental health and well-being.
Nurturing your mental health and well-being is a personal journey, something that works for someone else may not work for you, so keep trying until you find the elements that do work for you and embed them into a healthy routine, so they become habits.