How to Improve your Mental Health – 7 simple steps

Today is world mental health day! I wanted to take a minute to talk about the importance of mental health and some simple steps YOU can take to help improve your own mental health! 

Mental health is something everyone struggles with at least once in their lives - and that is totally okay! The important thing is that you recognize what is going on and take steps to help improve your mental health. When I began my journey as a professional rugby player, I really began to realize how important mental health was - I realized that no one was immune to feeling sad, stressed, or alone.  Throughout my journey, as I followed my dream, I was faced with times and events where I had feelings of stress, fear, anxiety and self doubt. However I fought through the feelings and was fortunate enough to have a great support team to help me through those times. 

Everyone has their stories involving mental health whether you are going through it now or want to find ways to prevent it in the future I have 7 full proof tips to help you get through your tough times!

1.Write Things Down

We live in such a busy society, it is super easy to have hundreds of thousands of thoughts stuck swirling in our minds. Some of us have SO MUCH TO DO and thinking of all these things can cause us to get stressed about it. Some of us are just the overthinking type and tend to think of the same things over and over - repeating situations, should haves, could haves, and would haves, over and over. How do you make it STOP?!  Simple! Try writing it down! If you are the busy type and have all these things you have to do constantly in your mind, try writing a to-do list, noting all the things you need to get done that day or that week. For all those over-thinkers, try writing or journaling. Writing can help you sift through these thoughts and can help you put things into perspective, overall helping you to let that weight off your chest. Writing can help you organize your thoughts, little by little, which can prevent or lessen any stress these thoughts could have been causing you. 

2.Tell a friend!

Telling someone what you are going through can be tough because this puts you in a place of vulnerability. It sounds easy, but being vulnerable can take a lot of courage, especially since many people in our society can perceive vulnerability as weakness. It is time to CHALLENGE that notion and open up, as telling a friend and opening up about any stress or struggles you may be having can bring you some relief! 

Sometimes when you are IN a situation, it can be hard to see a way out or to know which direction to go in. Being IN it can cause you to build up feelings or anxieties, creating a kind of ‘fog’ making it more difficult to know what to do. Sometimes, someone looking at the situation from the outside in can give you a fresh perspective or opinion. Choose someone you trust, someone who loves you, pick your support team and I guarantee you will feel a lot better once you let it out!

3.Working out!

 Working out is not only good for your body, it is also good for your mind! Exercise is proven to help improve your mood and regular exercise over time can help reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety! How great is that?! This is possible because when we workout, our brains release certain chemicals, such as endorphins and serotonin - which both play a role in your mood and emotions. 

When you are going through tough times, it can be difficult to  pick youself up and get motivated for the gym. Just remember, the first time is the hardest! Once you get up and go, it will be a breeze from there! Try squeezing a workout in sometime in the morning, even if it is something as simple as a brisk walk around the block. Working out first thing in the morning can help you get it done before you can convince yourself otherwise!

4.Eating Healthy

Eating the proper foods play a big role in your mental health. When we eat unhealthy, sugary foods, we are not giving our bodies the nutrients it needs to work its best. When we are not feeling our best physically, it can cause us to feel bad mentally. Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat for your mental health! Sugar has been proven to cause depression and it can also lessen your body's ability to fight off symptoms of anxiety and stress. Instead feeding your body with healthy, whole and nutritious foods will help you be able to fight off negative mental health symptoms and keep you feeling good!

5. Proper Sleep 

SLEEP is something else that can have an impact on your mental health. Studies show that lack of sleep affects the part of your brain used to manage emotions. This then suggests that if you are not sleeping properly, you are more likely to have problems with regulating your emotions! 

You should be getting approximately 8 hours of sleep each night! If you struggle with getting a good sleep, try coming up with a relaxing night routine and a productive morning routine to help improve your sleeping patterns. Another tip would be to try and go to sleep and wake up at relatively the same time each day.

 6. STOP Comparing yourself to others.

This tip is super important. We live in a time where it is super easy to open up your phone, scroll through social media, and see how everyone else looks, what they are doing, and what kind of life they are living. It is easy to take what we see and compare it to our own lives - She went on 3 vacations this year, I went on none, He has a bigger house, or she has more friends than me - STOP these thoughts! When we think like this, we are causing ourselves unnecessary anxiety! Especially with social media, it is easy for someone to put their “best food forward” in the sense that you never know what's REALLY  going on behind that screen. Even in real life scenarios, you will never really know what someone is truly feeling or going through on the inside. Comparing yourself to anyone other than yourself never has a positive outcome - so stop looking at other people's lives and instead focus on your own! What have you achieved? What do you want to achieve? How many people do you have in your life that LOVE you? That is what matters most! Not the 3 trips to Europe Stacey went on last year! 

7. One step at a TIME!

Last but certainly not least - always remember, YOUR LIFE IS NOT A RACE! When you become overwhelmed or realize you need to make a change in your life, it can be difficult to know where to start or even what to do. The important thing to always remember is to take it one step at a time at your own pace! Don’t just look at the finish line and get stressed out about how far it is, instead, focus on where you are right now and the step you are now taking, you will be surprised that in no time, you will reach that finish line!

Whether you are trying to get FITTER, trying to eat healthier, or simply trying to have a better outlook on life, a great place to start is with goal setting, both big and small. Setting goals will give you something to look forward to. Your goals can be simple things, like waking up when you alarm rings, or taking the stairs at work - any step in the right direction, big or small is something to be proud of!

There you have in Squadies, my top 7 tips to help improve your mental health!