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5 Ways to Look After Your Mental Health

This week’s blog post is dedicated to looking after that mind of yours. Understandably, the last year has been pretty tough on almost everyone’s mental health. Isolation, illness, lockdown and juggling childcare, education and work have been particularly tough, especially for women. Luckily, there are plenty of free, simple and effective steps you can take to bringing those cortisol levels right down. And with lockdown lifting, safe socialising and the promise of sunshine – it’s never been easier. Read on to discover our five favourite ways to look after your mental health. 

Exercise

Need an instant hack to brighten your mood? Move your body girl! From Zumba classes to a gentle walk – moving those creaky limbs does WONDERS for your endorphins. Experts agree a healthy body equals a healthy mind [1] – so jump out of your head and into a swimming pool. 

Exercise gets your blood pumping, energy moving and makes you feel full of beans. Ironically, flexing those muscles helps you to relax, especially at the end of the day. From gym bunnies to hippy yogis, whatever your inclination, make sure you ENJOY your workout. Looking forward to your exercise sesh will generate added serotonin to your day. 

Pressed for time? Take a 15-minute walk on your lunch break. There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air to clear the cobwebs of the mind. Plus, you’ll return to work feeling energised and clear-headed!

Get Outside

Do not underestimate the power of nature… especially after being cooped up for the best part of winter. Exploring the great outdoors is invigorating at the best of times, but after lockdown restrictions? It’s PURE FREEDOM. Green spaces, pretty flowers, fresh winds and wildlife are nature’s antidepressants for us humans and have been proven to: 

• Brighten your mood
• Reduce feelings of stress or anger
• Help you feel more relaxed
• Improve your confidence and self-esteem All that from a simple walk in the park? Wow!

Why not combine your outing with physical activity to supercharge your wellbeing? MentalHealth.Org charity claims partaking in a spot of physical activity in an outdoor, ‘green’ environment boosts your mood significantly more than physical activity indoors. Country walks, morning runs and bike rides with friends are all exciting ways to get your blood pumping and energy moving.

Exploring interesting new places is additionally great for stimulating your mind whilst distracting it from negative thoughts. Take an alternative route to work or discover a new city at the weekend – whatever your lifestyle, there’s no excuse to stay stuck in a rut this spring. 

Talk to your Friends

Connection is a basic human need. Simply meeting up with an old friend for a walk and a takeout coffee elevates your mood and mental wellbeing. 

Sharing your feelings with someone you trust releases your worries and makes you feel acknowledged. It may encourage them to additionally open up to you – listening and helping others has surprisingly positive effects on your own mental health. There are plenty of ways to connect with others, ideally meeting up with friends and family in person is the most beneficial, but FaceTiming or giving them a bell can be just as helpful. 

Maybe you don’t have a trusted person to open up to, or maybe you don’t feel comfortable confiding in people you know. Not to worry – speaking to strangers about your problems can be surprisingly liberating. 

Try a peer support group where you can share your feelings face to face with people who are going through similar experiences. Alternatively, chatlines and chatrooms are perfect for those who prefer a more remote setting. Check out our suggestions below:

• Mind’s peer support page lists peer support groups in your area
•Mind’s Side By Side is an online support charity for anyone over 18
TogetherAll is an online community for peer to peer support
Samaritans - talk about anything that is upsetting you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 (free from any phone)
SANEline - if you're experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).

Self-Care 

Repeat after us: indulging in a spot of me-time isn’t selfish. If you can’t look after yourself, you can’t look after others! Even the NHS website suggests relaxing and doing something for yourself is important for reducing stress levels and lowering cortisol.

 Self-care makes you feel appreciated, revitalised and good about yourself, so carve out some time on a Sunday afternoon for a spot of self-love. You could take a long bubble bath, meditate in a peaceful space or binge-watch your favourite TV programme.

Alternatively, why not treat yourself to a beauty sesh?

 Facemasks, conditioning treatments, manicures and pedicures can do WONDERS for your mood and appearance. If you’re a fan of hair extensions, ClipHair’s 2 in 1 Hair Shampoo plus Conditioner is the ULTIMATE beauty treat. This multifaceted formula treats your scalp and natural hair, alongside your hair extensions by providing antioxidant benefits for your hair and scalp – bliss.

Refresh your Look

EVERYONE knows new hair can transform the way you feel. Brand new tresses can make you feel like a whole different person – so throw those negative mind patterns out with your old hairstyle. From a daring new hair colour with makeup to match to a wardrobe refresh – changing your style, shakes up your look AND outlook. 

There’s nothing like adding a bit of swish or volume to your bonce with hair extensions to boost your mood. Why not mix up your look every day with clip-in hair extensions? Maybe one day you feel like enhancing your brunette hair colour with honey balayage extensions or adding a cheeky clip-in fringe for instant sex-appeal. It may seem superficial, but don’t underestimate the power of how new hair can influence your confidence, sociability and wellbeing. 

More Resources for Women’s Mental Health

WISH: The only UK-wide, user-led charity working with women’s mental health needs in prison, hospital and the wider community.

Maya Centre: a North London charity committed to providing free counselling for women without access to mainstream therapy options.

• Post Natal Depression: This NHS page advises what to do if you think you have PND 

References

[1] Paluska, S.A. & Schwnek, T.L. (2000). Physical Activity and Mental Health: Current Concepts. Sports Med, 29 (3), 167–180.

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