Tackling poor mental health is a serious, life-changing task requiring time, patience and plenty of support from loved ones and professionals. As Prince Harry demonstrated in his recent revelation that he suffered serious mental health issues and sought counselling following the death of his mother, Princess Diana, increased awareness of mental health is vital and on the rise. As well as more serious approaches such as counselling, sometimes the smallest changes can also reap rewards – as Prince Harry showed with his use of boxing to fight his depression – so try absorbing a few of these wellbeing tips into your daily routine…
Disconnect from your newsfeed
A survey from the US National Institute Of Health linked social media to depression and anxiety. A drip-feed of carefully selected and edited pictures on social media is a recipe for low self-esteem. If you can’t quite face culling your Facebook friends list and deleting Instagram from your phone, set aside a maximum of 30 minutes a day for checking your social accounts. Less is more.
The Breathe2Relax stress management app walks users through breathing exercises that help stabilise mood, control anger and manage anxiety. It specialises in teaching “diaphragmatic breathing” (aka, belly breathing) to beat stress and encourage relaxation. Download Breathe2Relax from Google Play or the App Store.
Receive online therapy
Lantern combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with affordable advice from professionals trained in CBT. Sign up for £40 to determine your strengths and weaknesses in five areas: body, stress/anxiety, mood, sleep and social life, and receive tailored daily exercises, plus one- on-one coaching when needed. Via golantern.com
Write away your woes
Writing down negative emotions and anxieties can be incredibly cathartic. Either make a list of what’s troubling you or keep a wellbeing diary as an emotional outlet.
Target your troubles
The IntelliCare Hub app and its accompanying 12 mini apps target symptoms of depression and anxiety. Download the core Hub app which will recommend the best mini app based on your symptoms, such as “Worry Knot” (for worry management) and “Thought Challenger” (to reduce negative thought patterns). Download IntelliCare Hub from Google Play.
Take a risk every day
Structure and routine are important, but can get you stuck in a repetitive rut. Risks such as talking to someone new, asserting yourself in a meeting or trusting a new confidant can help stimulate personal growth. Assign yourself one manageable “risk” a week and reward yourself upon its completion.
Identify your strengths
Tom Rath’s national bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Gallup Press, £12) features assessments to determine your strengths followed by advice on strategising them accordingly. Get a copy and watch your productivity climb as you capitalise on assets you didn’t know you had.
Try some aromatherapy
A study conducted by Rutgers University found those in a floral-scented room displayed greater wellbeing than those in a room filled with classic fragrances, such as Chanel No 5 or unscented air. So put in a call to a florist, such as Grace & Thorn.
Unsubscribe from your inbox
Emails can be addictive. Constantly checking your inbox at work is unproductive and an escape from proper work. Plus, checking emails when you are out of the office can increase anxiety. Read Unsubscribe: How To Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions And Get Real Work Done by Jocelyn K Glei (Piatkus, £9.99) for tips on the best times to email, how to prioritise them and how to switch off after hours.
Hug it out
Paul Zak, a pioneer of neuroeconomics, has found that eight hugs per day can make you happier. In a 2011 TED talk, he explained that hugging a romantic partner can spike oxytocin levels and decrease blood pressure, heart rate and stress.
Drink banana tea
Banana peel contains ingredients such as amino acids and vitamin B6 that increase serotonin and relieve stress. Swap morning coffee (a depressant) for banana tea to start the day off positively.
Not only does it make you unpleasant to be around, but entertaining negative thoughts takes a big toll on your happiness and affects how you approach problems. Next time you’re about to complain about trivialities, think, is it worth it? Then swap it for a positive or amusing comment.
Visit the travelling Light Lounge
The frequency of the lounge’s light machines you lie beneath are specifically programmed to entrain the brain into deeper states of consciousness. Many reviewers have reported a reduction in stress and even experienced visions, so why not give it a go yourself? Via thelightlounge.co
Add a 30-second sprint to your workout
This doubles your endorphins and increases levels of noradrenaline, boosting your mood for up to 90 minutes after exercise, say sports psychologists at the University Of Essex.
Boost your instrumental health
A new music app is scientifically engineered to enhance meditation using auditory brain entrainment. Unlike most meditation apps, MindMetro focuses solely on the instrumental. Download from Google Play or the App Store to receive one hour of complimentary music and use before bed for the best sleep of your life. Via mindmetro.com.
Borrow a dog
In a new study, dog-owners were found to be more satisfied with life than non-pet owners, and that oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) was released by both human and dog when they interacted. If you can’t look after an animal full-time, create a free profile on the Borrow My Doggy app and browse till you meet the pet you’re looking for – just like Tinder. Sort of. Via borrowmydoggy.com
Do what makes you anxious
The more you avoid uncomfortable situations, the more they make you anxious. Set yourself a challenging environment, keeping track of your thoughts, and you’ll find it easier to rationalise your anxiety and realise it’s not as bad as you’d anticipated.
Brush your teeth mindfully
As advised in Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Danny Penman and Mark Williams (Piatkus, £15), spending time to focus on a mundane activity allows you to appreciate the moment and clear your head. Try spending two minutes brushing your teeth, concentrating on the movement of your hand and the sensation in your mouth.
Keep a rescue box
Make a box of reassuring personal items that relate to positive memories – such as photographs, music or an inspiring letter from yourself – and turn to it during moments of distress, or make a loved one remember to give it to you.
Keep medication in sight
When you’re feeling desolate, medication can be forgotten, or it can be tempting to discard it as pointless, persuading yourself you are beyond help. Keep medication in an obvious place, such as with your morning toiletries, to remind you of its benefits and the danger of sudden discontinuation.
Eat an oily fish a day
Not only do omega-3 fatty acids (found particularly in salmon and mackerel) help prevent cognitive decline, they boost serotonin levels via their content of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Low levels of DHA are linked to depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s, so include oily fish and (not or) Krill oil supplements in your diet three times a week.
Keep a crisis calendar
Charting lows and highs can help you spot behavioural patterns. A meltdown might be linked to a certain social activity, work duty or a specific day of the week. Awareness of these particular patterns will help you prepare accordingly, so pin a calendar somewhere obvious, jot down your schedule, then mark your highs and lows with two separate colours.
Zen your home
A tidy home creates a tidy mind, so try adding “mindful” murals to decorate your walls. Choose from visually soothing designs including Crisp Pines and Ocean Mist to sit above your bed or desk: two places where inner calm are most needed. Via muralswallpaper.com