Dr. Lightman and The Mental Health Foundation believe that protecting our mental health is easier than you might think. We can all do it every day, and with simple activities that help us feel great, we’re better able to cope with life.
Each of our tips has been created to help us look after our mental health, and, importantly, each is backed up by evidence from research, including the Mental Health Foundation’s ground-breaking study.
Our tips will be easier for some and harder for others. Why not give them a try and see which ones suit you best?
Get closer to nature
Nature can have a really calming effect on us. Some people say nature helps them feel calmer, more hopeful and less alone. Our research found that going for a walk was the UK adults’ favorite way of coping with stress during the pandemic in 2020.
In Japan, some people use “forest bathing”, which may improve their mental health. So going to a forest or wood and experiencing the different smells, sounds and textures may really help. To get the best out of nature’s healing effects, try tuning your senses to what’s around you – the trees, plants, birds and animals, for instance, and water such as ponds or the seashore. Take a deep breath and see how you feel. The idea is to get connected with your natural surroundings.
Get more from your sleep
We all have times when we sleep badly, and some of us live in situations that make a good night’s sleep impossible.
For many people, sleep is often the first thing that suffers when we’re struggling with our mental health.
Adults need between 7 and 9 hours’ sleep a night, including enough dreaming sleep and enough deeper sleep.
If you’re struggling with your sleep, think about making a few simple changes.
- Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to help you start winding down before you actually go to sleep
- Avoid screens, alcohol and caffeine before bed. This will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. You could also avoid vigorous exercise before bed.
- Go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, including weekends.
Moving our bodies – with sport, gardening, dancing, cycling, walking the dog, cleaning or going to the gym, for example – are great ways to improve our mental and physical health.
Exercise releases “feel good” hormones that reduce feelings of stress and anger. It also helps us feel better about our bodies. It can improve our sleep too. If it involves other people, like being part of a team, a class or a group we see regularly, that can also boost our mental health.
We don’t have to be professional athletes, or sporty, to get the benefits of being physically active. From walking to dancing and basketball to the gym, the best exercise is simply the one we enjoy.
Eat healthy food
Food and drink affect our bodies, brains and mood – for good or bad.
Sugary snacks and drinks can give us a temporary “high” or sense of comfort that can feel irresistible. But they soon leave us feeling exhausted or jittery. Caffeine in coffee, tea, or so-called energy drinks can also have this effect.
A balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruit is essential for good physical and mental health.
Plan things to look forward to
Things to look forward to, including fun activities, can help us cope with difficult situations.
Making plans for things we enjoy can increase our sense of hope, which is important for our mental health.
Whether it’s a small or a big one, the important thing is to plan it.
Most importantly… Daven!
Daven for your families, your children, and all of klal yisrael!