Maintaining Your Mental Health
There are 5 facets to a healthy mental health lifestyle according to Bryan Jeffrey (2008).
- Sleep well
- Eat healthy food
- Get exercise
- Fresh air
All of these facets can appear to be easy, but in reality often we have to make effort to achieve these things.
Sleep can be an ongoing problem, especially as a teenager.
I’ve heard from some young people that during isolation they were getting much more sleep, and feeling better for it. The challenge for these people will be, how to maintain this change in habit now we have returned to school.
Others of us are finding that the change in routine is really impacting our sleep. Some things that may help:
- Having a regular bed time and routine, also waking at the same time each day
- Turning off technology at least one hour before bed
- Getting some physical activity
- Turning down the lights at night to help your body think that it is night time
- Avoiding stimulant drinks in the afternoon eg. Tea, coffee, soft drinks, energy drinks
- Taking some time to debrief your day maybe write in a diary or talk with a parent or friend
Eat Healthy Food
Eating healthy food can be tricky, and it involves planning. Sugary food looks and tastes great, but doesn’t sustain your energy. It can actually decrease your mood when the sugar hit wears off. You may like to try some of the snack ideas here:
Some people thrive on it, whereas for others it’s a challenge to get motivated. Pick an activity that you enjoy. A long run may be someone’s ideal, whereas dancing to music, or jumping on a trampoline may be more your style. Finding something that suits you will be the greatest motivator.
Getting fresh air can be achieved in conjunction with exercise, but also be something you do purposefully. I enjoy taking in the sounds and sights of nature, breathing in all the smells.
Sunlight is vital for your body to maintain a good sleep wake cycle. If your body isn’t getting enough sunlight your body doesn’t reduce the amount of melatonin (a hormone made in the pineal gland) in your body during the day. This impacts the amount in your body at night and is not as effective at assisting you to go to sleep.
Jeffrey, B. 2008. My Big Brain Book, Why do I feel sad and anxious? MOAT: Mental Health Outreach Assessment & Therapy, Melbourne.
Photo by Di Lewis