Protect your mental health


Sometimes it can be the simplest things that can help improve your mental health.

Eat a good balanced diet 

It has been proven time and time again that there is a direct link to diet and mental health.

  • Eat regularly and healthily and always ensure that you eat breakfast as this can increase mood and positivity
  • Eating fish on regular basis can improve mood
  • Watch your caffeine intake during the day and avoid eating sugary things as a quick fix for energy. These lead to an increased boost of energy but this is short lived and can be replaced by increased anxiety and low mood
  • Processed foods, pesticides and food additives can also result in depression and stress
  • Having a balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also help the way you think.

Take regular exercise and keep active

Exercise helps to lift our mood as well as giving us more energy and helps us to feel better about ourselves as well as improving our physical health. It can be difficult to find the time to exercise when juggling a busy life, but there are small steps that you can put in place:

  • Going for a walk during your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk
  • Walking for short distances that you would normally take the car
  • Doing the gardening
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift

Find an activity that you enjoy doing which will make you more likely to stick at it and will get more enjoyment out of it. For some it might be going for a walk, others a run or perhaps cycling or swimming.

Relax and take time out for yourself

Find time for yourself each day to do something that you really enjoy – even if it is only half an hour – it could be watching a television programme, having a bath, chatting to friends on the phone, reading a book or even playing the computer. Allow yourself this time to unwind and recharge yourself for the next day.

Drink in moderation

The daily-recommended amount for a man is 3-4 units and 2-3 units for a women per day. Bear in mind that a small glass of wine is one and a half units. Most of us enjoy a glass of wine as a way to unwind but it is important to remember that excessive drinking can lead to anxiety, depression and can uncover or accelerate an existing mental health problem. It is also important to remember that an individual should have one alcohol free day in the week, and if you exceed the recommended allowance on one day you need to give your body two days rest to return to normal.

Remember to laugh

Learn to accept who you are and value yourself. Recognise your strengths and your good points rather than focusing on the things that you do less well or feel less confident about. Doing something that makes you laugh e.g. watch a funny film or tell jokes. Laughter can relax the muscles, reduce stress hormones, enhance the immune system, reduce blood pressure and reduce pain, as it allows the person to forget about their pains.

Ensure you get enough sleep

Try to make sure you have a healthy sleep pattern by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. If you sleep pattern is disturbed, try not to catch some sleep during the day as this will make you feel worse and even more tired.

Be kind to yourself

Encourage yourself rather than criticising yourself. We are all unique in our own way and this should be celebrated. Too often we focus more on our faults than the things we are good at.

Help others

Doing something kind for someone else, even a stranger can help us to feel good no matter how small it is.

Try something new

This helps increase our confidence. It could be a new hobby or a new sport or joining a new club. By starting something new we not only boost our self-confidence but forgot about our problems for a while.

Recognise stress and talk about your problems

Recognise and be aware of the signs of stress and when you are not coping. Stress is an accumulation of pressures that build up over time. Tell-tale signs of stress are:

  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling anxious
  • Teary
  • Impatient or irritable in response to minor problems
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Drinking or smoking more

If you feel that you may be suffering from stress, talk to someone, a trusted friend or colleague about how you are feeling. Also you could try keeping a diary over a few weeks and list the times, places and so on that make your stress levels increase, allowing you to identify the stressors in your life.

Page last updated:23 December 2014