All over social media and the internet today, you’ll find various posts, articles and information about World Mental Health Day. In a bid to raise awareness and campaign against the stigma around mental health, it’s a day that’s important to pay attention to and get involved with.
Mental health issues can affect us all in varying ways, but whether you suffer from anxiety or depression - or any mental health condition in between - we could all benefit from making more of an effort in investing in our mental and emotional state the way we do our physical.
Just like with physical health, investment in lasting mental health takes time, commitment and thought. There is no quick fix. However, there are certainly little bite-sized hacks that can help alongside your usual practices, and keeping these in mind when you’re feeling flustered can help everything seem a lot more manageable. And every little helps.
1 Guided meditation
Much like working out, the longer term effects of meditation occur when you practise regularly. But also like working out, sometimes all it takes is one quick hit to get you out of a funk.
Keep a five-minute guided meditation handy on your phone whether it’s a podcast recording or a mindfulness app, so it’s on tap when you’re feeling in need of a little calm. Then all you’ll need to do is find a quiet spot and five minutes to yourself, and you’ll probably find that giving your mind the headspace it needs will work wonders.
2 Full body scan
A full body scan is an aspect of mindfulness that you can practise anywhere, anytime. It requires practitioners to focus on the body and breath, in turn leading them away from feelings and thoughts that might otherwise be causing them stress. For this reason, body scans can be very relaxing.
It’s pretty simple, but super effective. Find a quiet space and begin by focusing your attention on either the top of your head or the tips of your toes. With mindfulness, work your way up or down the body, focusing on each part of your body with awareness. Slow your breathing down throughout; working your way through the entire body.
3 Write a to-do list
Feeling overwhelmed with everything on your plate right now? Break everything down into manageable chunks. The best thing to do would be to write a list of everything you need to do, with relevant deadlines and an action plan. Seeing everything down on paper will help you feel more organised.
Each time you tick a task off the list once it’s complete, you’ll feel a sense of relief. One step at a time.
4 Go for a walk
Something as simple as a quick change of environment can change your whole outlook. So next time you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed or snowed under, take yourself out of your current situation and into the fresh air.
Not only does going for a walk allow for a chance to clear your mind, it also gets your blood flowing and body active - a great instant stress reliever. Aim for just 5 minutes if you don’t have long, and just allow your muscles to loosen up and release tension.
5 Self massage
We often hold a lot of tension and negative energy in our shoulders, upper back and neck. The easiest way to get rid of this tension? Release it.
Using either a massage ball, foam roller or your own hands, practising self-massage regularly will teach you how to hold less tension in your body. For anyone who suffers from tension headaches, this is a great skill to learn. Focus on the spots where you can feel the most discomfort (but be careful that it’s not feeling painful!) for long enough until you feel the tension ease off. This could be up to 30 seconds. Then, move around to find another spot and continue using this same technique. This will also help to boost blood flow, so you should be left feeling more energetic, too.