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.
Learn to understand and manage your feelings
Many of us will know when we’re upset but not be sure what we’re feeling. Is it sadness, fear, shame, loneliness, anger or something else? We don’t always know why we’re feeling that way. It often helps to give our feelings our attention without judging them. It may seem strange and uncomfortable to do this. But practice and patience with ourselves will help. Naming what we’re feeling is also likely to help. So, we can say to ourselves: “I’m feeling really irritable today, but also sad.” Another helpful step can be to work out what has led to us feeling this way – might it be a disagreement or disappointment that you’ve had? Talking kindly to ourselves, in the same way we might reassure a small child we care about, is also important. It can be very comforting. You might feel uncomfortable initially, but give it a go – it might just help. Some people feel better if they write down their feelings. You could try repeating something positive about yourself a few times each day. (This is sometimes called a “mantra”. “I am on a journey, growing and developing”, for example.) Research shows this reduces negative thoughts and feelings.
Talk to someone you trust for support
Just talking things through with a person we trust can help and feel like a relief. Use your own words. It’ll make you feel safer and less alone, and that will help protect your mental health and prevent problems. Talking may also change how you see and feel about the situation in ways you find helpful. Another possible benefit is that talking may strengthen your relationship with the person you speak with. This will benefit both of you and make it easier for them to turn to you when they need support themselves.
Be kind and help create a better world
Exchanging a smile or friendly words can be comforting and lift our mood. Research shows that being kind is good for both sides. Being kind can boost our mood, help us feel more capable, strengthen our connections with others and even make us cope better with stress. If you don’t know where to start, you could try small but meaningful acts of kindness, such as offering a smile or a few kind words to another person. You could make their day but also feel better for it – friendly connections with others are vital for our mental health.