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  • Writer's pictureTim Rice

Some tips to improve your mental wellbeing

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

A few years ago some of finest minds in the field of mental health and wellbeing came together to compile a shortlist of five keys factors in trying to make ourselves happier and get the most out of life. I find that in the counselling room clients have often overlooked some, or many, of these. It's a useful list to keep in mind.

The first is connection – with family, friends and the wider community. I've often heard people say that when they are feeling down they tend to retreat into themselves and forget about friends and having a social life. Part of the remedy might be as simple as picking up the phone to ring someone for a chat, or messaging someone to meet for coffee. It might be visiting someone who could need your help. If we do these things we often feel happier, with more of a sense of purpose. More connected.

The second is to be active. This doesn't necessarily mean going to the gym (though I have known clients who have benefited hugely from just that). Depending on your age it might be making a point of going for a long walk. Or taking some vigorous exercise. There seem to be clear connections between being active and having improved mental health.

The third is learning new skills. When we make the effort to master something new it helps our self-esteem. The recommendations include learning to cook something new, maybe signing up for a course at the local college, rediscovering an old hobby, or visiting a local museum or gallery. Learning new stuff gives us a sense of achievement.

Giving to others is the fourth on the list. Here even small things like smiling at someone (probably not easy if you're feeling low), or giving them a hand with something, can take you out of yourself for a while and improve self-esteem. Volunteering in your local community might be an ideal way to give. Or, say, phoning someone who's lonely.

Finally there is being mindful. This is about being paying attention to your thoughts and feelings about what's happening around you. This mindfulness allows us to appreciate life more and understand ourselves better. As one professor says, it's waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs. I often recommend mindfulness to clients.

These are five basic ideas to improve mental health. Most people instinctively know most of the five but when things get difficult it's all too easy to overlook them. You can read more about them here.

The evidence is persuasive that regular exercise leads to improved mental health
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