Mental health is a subject many of us find difficult to talk about. Studies suggest that men are particularly guarded when it comes to discussing their psychological well-being. Health is an umbrella term that covers physical, mental and social health. It’s as important to focus on your mind as it is your body. In this guide, we’ll go through some simple steps you can take to enhance well-being.
Embrace active living
One of the best ways to improve every aspect of your health is to embrace active living. Regular exercise is proven to reduce the risk of several conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some types of cancer. It can also lower the risk of depression and anxiety and help people to manage and reduce stress, channel emotions and increase their energy levels. When you move your body, the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your brain surge and your body releases endorphins. This triggers a natural high, which makes you feel great.
Increasing activity levels doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym or going for a run every day. There are all kinds of activities you can try, and you can fit exercise and active pursuits in around work and childcare commitments. Exercise at home, go for a walk with the dog every evening, join a sports team or a gym, or get the kids involved and start organizing bike rides at the weekends or regular trips to the park or the beach to play soccer, baseball, or volleyball. Aim to be active daily. Even if you only have half an hour, this will make a positive difference. Health experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Make time for yourself
Life can get hectic when you’re working long hours and you have a home to run and children to look after. Being a parent is a full-time job, but it’s crucial to make time for yourself. Nobody is superhuman, and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you crave some alone time or you wish you had more hours in the day to devote to your hobbies and interests or relax and unwind. Schedule breaks.
If you love sports, for example, go to an exercise class or a training session one or two evenings a week. If you find it hard to keep up with friends and family members, start putting dates in the diary. If your job doesn’t give you an opportunity to be creative, and you enjoy art or writing, give yourself an hour a week to sit and paint, write, read, draw or play music. Everybody needs downtime and space to focus on their passions.
Invest in healthy relationships
Our relationships can have a major impact on our mental health and how we feel. Some relationships make us feel better, but others can make us feel sad, worthless, angry or frustrated. If you find that the relationships you have with other people make you upset or they affect your mood, it’s beneficial to invest in healthy relationships and consider cutting ties with people who bring you down. Most of us reduce the size of our social circles as we get older. There is nothing negative about this if it makes you feel better.
Spending more time with people who make you feel good and less time with those that have a negative impact on your mental health is a step forward. Think about the relationships you have with other people and how they affect you. Often, if there are hiccups or temporary issues, it is worth fighting to save relationships that are important or special to you, but if you get nothing out of a friendship, you may want to move forward without that person in your life.
Spread positivity and warmth
Have you ever noticed that you feel better if somebody compliments you, praises your work or even smiles at you when you pass them in the street? The smallest things can make a big difference. Look to spread warmth and positivity. Make eye contact with people you meet and offer a smile, compliment your friends, partner, and family members, let people know that you respect and admire them and encourage optimism and positive thinking in others.
From peer recognition at work to the way you interact with your friends or your partner and your kids at home, it’s hugely beneficial to try to make others feel good. This will almost always have a positive knock-on effect on your mental well-being.
Spending time outside is proven to make us feel better. Being surrounded by nature or even getting a burst of fresh air during your lunch break can help you to feel less stressed and more relaxed and energized. If you have a garden or yard space, get outside as much as possible and create a space that makes you feel comfortable and calm. Visit parks and natural beauty spots in your free time and appreciate your surroundings.
It can be particularly helpful to get outdoors if you work long hours or have a stressful job. Even a 5-minute break during the morning or a quick walk in your lunch break can make a difference. Use your spare time to explore and discover new places or visit locations that you love. You can combine spending time outdoors with being active by doing activities such as hiking and walking, mountain biking and cycling, kayaking and paddleboarding, rock climbing, caving, rafting, and swimming.
Figure out what makes you happy
There is no universal formula for happiness. What makes one person happy may be totally different to what makes another person feel content. Figure out what makes you happy and try to work towards achieving or increasing happiness by devoting more time and effort to your interests, hobbies, priorities or objectives. If spending time with family and friends is what makes you feel blissfully happy, make sure you schedule visits and reunions, organize activities together and invest more time in those relationships.
If traveling is the secret to your happiness, plan more trips and spend more time enjoying experiences and making memories. If you love music, art or being in nature, dedicate time and energy to these activities and passions.
Ensure you get enough rest
A lack of sleep is one of the most common risk factors for stress and it can also exacerbate symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as increasing the risk of physiological health issues. Experts recommend around 6-8 hours of sleep per night for adults. If you experience insomnia, or you regularly wake up in the morning feeling tired having only slept for a few hours, it’s time to take action. Seek advice if you have ongoing or severe sleep troubles.
Establish a routine in the evening, which gives you time to relax after the kids have gone to bed and avoid anything that will make you feel energized or stressed out. Read, watch TV, or listen to music to enable you to unwind before bed. Set yourself specific times to go to sleep and get up and ensure that your bedroom is a tranquil place. Don’t take tablets or phones to bed with you and avoid checking emails late at night.
Mental health is a subject that many men are reluctant to discuss, but it’s something that affects all of us. Just as you can take steps to reduce the risk of physical health problems, you can also be proactive in enhancing and protecting your mental well-being. Exercise regularly, invest in healthy relationships, spread positivity and make time for yourself. Make sure you get enough rest, spend more time outside and surround yourself with people who make you feel good.