Managing Your Own Mental Health

From my experience, I have identified six main ideas for building and managing your mental health within your lifetime.

Out of these six ideas, the most effective for me personally is social connection and talking to others about your feelings. When you feel troubled, talking to people about your feelings may relieve a lot of pressure and may also help reduce the many feelings you are feeling at the time. As teenagers going through large amounts of stress and trying to get work in on time, it’s best to step back, take time out for yourself, talk to others and try not to get too overwhelmed with the work you are trying to complete.

Staying active is not just something lots of people love to do, but it can also boost your self-esteem, help you concentrate, sleep better, and feel better for the day ahead. Whilst exercising, your body releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin which improves your mood and also have long term effects such as reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Not only are you doing something you love, but you are also improving your mental health. Most people think of exercise as something you do to get fit and rarely something that helps your mental health. Experts say you should be doing around 30-60 minutes of exercise three to five times a week to gain the benefits it has for your mental health.

Another main point is a healthy diet. In order for your brain to function well, you need large amounts of different nutrients. During each of your meals, you need to make sure you hit all the food groups and that you are getting the proportions of food during your meals. The main groups are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, and calcium. Drinking lots of water is also important.

Also, it is best to avoid or minimize the use of alcohol and caffeine. Oftentimes, people resort to drinking and drugs to numb the bad feelings they experience. However, this makes things worse, and can bring negative consequences. 

Quality of sleep is another main factor in building and managing good mental health. Better quality sleep can help you feel calm, relaxed, and in a better mood. Sleep reduces stress, which is one of the biggest problems teenagers face, and this is closely linked to the idea that they stay up late doing assignments, which then leads to them not getting enough sleep, impacting their ability to concentrate in school. Everyone should be getting an average of at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night to be able to be happy and productive during their day.

Meaning and purpose is another main point to manage and build good mental health. Accepting who you are is a massive part of your mental health. Feeling good about yourself boosts your confidence and self-esteem. Challenging yourself is a good thing as this helps you to find new things that you never knew you were good at. Not only accepting who you are but also caring for others can also help. It’s a two-way benefit: you are helping your friend with their mental health and at the same time uplifting yourself as you are using your knowledge to help others.

Lastly, it’s important to manage stress. Stress is a large problem in everyone’s personal and working lives. So, these are some ways that I use to release my stress:

●      Mindfulness ( I use apps such as Headspace. I try to listen to one meditation every night and sometimes during the day)

●      Yoga (When I have time, I will try and do yoga as this is something I find very helpful)

●      Mindful breathing (breathing in from your stomach rather than your chest. I tend to use the 4,7,8 breathing technique)

●      Listening to relaxing music 

●      Spending time with friends and family (people who make you laugh)

Of course, these tips may not help everyone, and there are many other ways you can release stress. However, these are just the ways I found helped me the most and I hope they are useful for you as well.

Editor’s note: Learn more about the impact of sleep on mental health here. Learn more about the impact of exercise on mental health here.