Can be any form of sport as long as you're putting in the effort to get a sweat. My preference is cycling as it increases self-esteem and reduces stress and anxiety thanks to the endorphins it produces. Exercise can also make a significant contribution to the prevention of further deterioration of mental health issues and can also improve the quality of life too.
It sounds almost too good to be true but exercise can also improve your mood, improve your sleeping pattern, improve your sex life and improve your motivation. It improves almost every aspect of your life making you a more balanced individual.
To further enhance the improvements exercise can make to your health, try setting yourself targets and monitoring your performance on Strava to track how many miles or kilometers you've achieved on a specific day. It can be 1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles, and so on, it's not about the quantity of milage, it's about how productive your training session has been. It feels like completing a book, it gives you that satisfaction of achieving something.
In my personal experience, I have enjoyed in my case cycling a lot more ever since I was doing it for the mental aspect of it rather than just trying to lose weight. I see losing weight as a bonus and I'm not hard on myself at all.
Everyone is different and can tailor exercise to achieve optimum performance and productivity in terms of getting everything they can get from a session of exercise.
2. Maintain a support network
Family and friends are a great option to have if you are speaking to them, however, if you are for any reason not in communication with them which is common for a lot of people that is okay, there are plenty of options to exercise (unintentional). There are support networks on most social media platforms (Facebook, Snapchat, Tik-Tok, and Twitter). They do make a difference as it makes you realise you are not alone, people can help you if you are struggling, and being a part of a group makes you feel like you are part of something positive.
You can also contact organisations that specialise in helping people with mental health issues such as Samaritans (03300945717) or if you don't feel comfortable speaking to someone on the phone you can text Shout on 85258.
The important thing to realise is that the advisors who work on the other side of the phone are there to help you because they want to not because they have to. They volunteer there and are not there just to pass the time of day and hope to get you off the phone as soon as possible. There is no judgement and their number one priority is to make sure you are okay.
And if you are not already convinced, everything is strictly confidential.
3. Eat well
Eating well doesn't just have physical advantages like losing weight, it can help improve depression and anxiety. Eating fresh and natural products means fewer mood fluctuations. I.e drinking too much Fanta Orange gives me more anxiety.
Eating everything in moderation is key as balance means everything which means you can still have a Pot Noodle or a chipper at the weekend, but you'll feel less guilty about having those meals if you eat more vegetables and protein-based meals like eggs and chicken during the week.
If I'm feeling depressed I'll eat a banana as it produces endorphins which means it improves my mood. I also find drinking chamomile tea beneficial to reducing my levels of anxiety.
It's important to do research as everyone is different and there are certainly many natural remedies to counteract mental health problems that affect you on a daily basis.
4. Alcohol intake
This part is for people who drink alcohol which is unsurprisingly most of us. Drinking alcohol is certainly not an issue until you abuse it. Having one or two pints does reduce levels of anxiety but not many of us stop at that level, we continue to drink more which can lead to the blacking out stage. The next day you've got 'hangxiety' or the fear. This means you can feel anxious, agitated, unmotivated or panicked as you might have done something you don't usually do, say something silly or the thought of not remembering anything instills that lack of control.
We have all been there, but it can make your mental health worse, especially if you do it almost every weekend. Some people try and stop it which is fine, although I believe the harmful reduction is more effective. Harmful reduction is cutting down gradually how much you drink instead of trying to go cold turkey.
I believe this is the way forward as you are putting more pressure on yourself if you are trying to stay sober completely and for most people, people cave in which just makes them feel even more guilty which can lead them to drink even more.
5. Find your passion/ do something you are good at
When I played football throughout my youth, I had something to focus on and felt good about myself. Having a passion or a hobby you are good at is amazing for your mental health as it boosts your self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and positivity.
What gives you joy? It can be anything from chess, painting by numbers, playing an instrument, or maybe you're passionate about tennis? If you don't know what that passion is, don't worry there are ways you can discover it:
1. Is there something you already do or think a lot about during the day? What is it?
3. Try it.
4. Practise it until you get good at it.
5. Do not quit your job or school as everyone needs a backup.
The key principle that can be applied to these steps is to not be too hard on yourself. We tend to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves. For example, when I'm feeling motivated, I come up with dozens of ideas at once and attempt them all which just burns me out. You have to get back to the basics and maintain that as you just go back to square one.
Don't dwell on it when you go back to square one just keep trying and trying again until you get to where you want to be.
Courtesy of Help Guide