Small steps you can take towards a better mental health
Image taken by Mike Benna
This time of year is rubbish, the weather, the dark nights, the bear trees. These can all have such an effect on your mental health. The seasonal depression in January is inevitable, after the festivities and lights of Christmas and new year, the decorations come down, but the weather gets no better. I’ve always hated taking the decorations down, my house seems so empty and sad, then I have to go back to uni, away from my family and do get back into that routine. Everyone’s effected by this in a different way and to different extent and as someone who is affected by this myself, I’ve made a list of small actions to keep in mind.
1. Go for a walk
Exercise can release so many positive hormones, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine (also known as the happy hormone) in the brain. No matter what the exercise is, whether you go out just for a quick walk or run 10 miles, it’s going to help. The added sense of achievement is an added bonus. I always find that I’m more productive and in a better mood all day when I’ve gotten up and done any sort or exercise in the morning.
2. Get some sleep
I know for myself, when I’m tired I feel worse and then I get less done, I then stress about what I haven’t done, and then I don’t sleep. It’s an endless cycle. Getting out of this cycle can be difficult and take time. There are a few things that can help with this though, get of your phone a while before you want to go to sleep. I’m awful with this, I spend too many nights sat on TikTok until just before I want to go to sleep, and it does not help at all. May be find a book to read as a wind down, or my personal favourite puzzles (not embarrassed to admit I have a sudoku book and pen by the side of by bed). By removing any blue lights that can keep your brain awake and encouraging it to wind down can help you fall asleep so much easier.
3. Spend some time with the people you love
There is no easier way to put a smile on your face then being with those who know and understand you. By talking to them about how you feel can really help take the weight of your shoulders. Explaining how we feel to someone can help be the first steps in feeling better, someone is aware and is supporting you can really help. Also the process of explaining it to them can really help you to understand it yourself, by properly looking into how you feel and investigating the roots of the problems.
4. Drink less
As a student myself, I can see how that suggestion seems annoying, but its true. Hungover days are the worse, we are all sluggish and lazy, which is never going to make us feel better. But you can also still go out and have that much fun without taking it to that extent where you feel so bad in the morning, there is also nothing worse than the ‘hanxiety’ we all feel after a big night out. All these will add to the overall health of your mental wellbeing. So maybe, just a suggestion, try and drink less. Learn your limits and don’t push them.
5. Tree hugging
I don’t mean this literally, unless your into that kind of thing, just that any time spent in nature can be so beneficial on your mental health. Even just sitting in your local park, breathing in the fresh air, growing your own flowers and spending time around pets or animals. This can be so individual to each person, the amount of time one person needs to spend outside will be different to the next, so is a perfect time to have some alone time and enjoy the environment around you. As someone who grew up in an area of outstanding natural beauty and then moved to a city where the closest thing to nature out of my bedroom window is a pigeon, I really struggled to find the amount of nature I am used to being surrounded by. But I found that when I viewed it differently my perception changed, when I looked and appreciated what was able to grow in the middle of a city or going to my park and seeing an unbelievable amount of squirrels, that can bring my the same feeling of joy.
I know, these are not the complete answer, and everyone is individual so what help them will be individual also, it’s just some small steps that can really help you move in the right direction. Non will drastically change your lifestyle or effect your day to day but can all have a huge impact.
For more information on all of these topics please visit mind.org.uk