Five steps to a healthy mind
Below are five things that, according to research, can really help to boost our mental wellbeing:
- Connect –Human beings are social animals. Relationships build a sense of belonging and self-worth. Strong relationships with family and friends allow us to share our feelings and know that we are understood. They provide an opportunity to share positive experiences and can give us emotional support. They give us a chance to support others – something else that is known to promote mental wellbeing. There's also evidence that wellbeing can be passed on through relationships. Being around people with strong mental wellbeing can improve your own mental wellbeing.
- Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. Physical activity can help people with mild depression. Evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. Physical activity is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge.
- Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Research shows that learning throughout life is associated with greater satisfaction and optimism, and improved ability to get the most from life. People who carry on learning after childhood report higher wellbeing and a greater ability to cope with stress. They also report more feelings of self-esteem, hope, and purpose.
- Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community center, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Giving to others and co-operating with them can stimulate the reward areas in the brain, creating positive feelings. Helping and working with others can also give us a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.
- Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. You can enhance your mindfulness by practicing meditation. Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.