Five simple steps to feeling great

Every year one in four of us will have a mental health problem, according to mental health charity Mind, with the current pandemic having a massive impact on the nation’s wellbeing.

Recent research reveals 35 per cent of people feel their mental health has suffered due to Covid-19, including more than one in ten who have never had mental health issues previously.

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It is vital to prioritise our mental health. The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to promote positive wellbeing, particularly during this pandemic.

Five tips for improving your mental health:

1 Pick up the phone

It often seems easier to send a text or an email instead of speaking to someone. However, building and maintaining social relationships is a basic human need and is proven to help maintain emotional wellbeing.So instead of sending an email to your aunt in Australia, pick up the phone – or make a video call.

Feeling down about missing catch-ups with your friends? Set up a weekly quiz or virtual afternoon tea to stay connected to your group and help make life seem a little more ‘normal’. It’s important to share any concerns or worries with people you trust. Keep communication channels open and be there for one another.

2 Stay active

One of the foundations of great mental health is good physical health. Keeping active can help reduce the likelihood of depression and anxiety, and even helps slow age-related cognitive decline.Government guidance promotes outdoor exercise . If you can, then do – whether to walk, run or cycle. Enjoy the fresh air and boost vitamin D levels.

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Social media has some benefits. One positive is that fitness bloggers and personal trainers are hosting free live workouts and posting home workout ideas on their social channels to help people keep fit and healthy. These can be great for providing support and motivation to stay active.

3 Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of being fully present and ‘in-the-moment’. It might seem just a buzzword, but it really does work. Taking time out to ‘live in the moment’ and appreciate your surroundings helps to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety.Smile, (even if you don’t feel like it), remember all you’re grateful for, and try meditation. Yoga is wonderful for shrugging off stress. It helps build strength and flexibility and improves posture. Studios and yoga instructors provide online classes, with free sessions on Instagram and YouTube.

4 Drink sensibly

Some people drink alcohol to help deal with negative feelings including fear and loneliness. But it is important to recognise that any change in mood is temporary. Recent advice suggests there is no safe level of alcohol consumption, so choose a healthier way to cope with stress and other mental health issues, such as trying a new hobby or confiding in loved ones.

5 Give your brain a workout

Word games and puzzles are not only good for distraction, they help to boost brain power, which in turn helps reduce the impact of age-related cognitive decline. Everything from Sudoku and word searches to computer-based puzzle games can help.

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Our mental health is so important, and it’s crucial that we take time to check in with ourselves and with loved ones to stay on top. What works for someone else might not work for you. So be kind to yourself and do whatever makes you feel better each day.

Benenden Health has a Covid-19 hub on its website with tips and information about how to support your mental health during the pandemic.