When it comes to boosting our mood and minding our mental health, even small changes in our everyday habits can often make a difference. Being realistic and starting with one step at a time, one habit or change at a time, means we are more likely to keep it going. Trying to overhaul everything at once can be overwhelming and we are more likely to stop before we even really get off the ground. Aim for small changes gradually so that they become a way of life.
So how could you start to mind your mood every day?
get moving, one of the best mood boosters is physical activity, indoors or outside. Find an activity you enjoy and get going – walking, active team sports, dancing, cycling, yoga, gardening – the choice is endless. Try out a few things until you find one that works for you. If you are less mobile, seated exercise and gentle stretches can also have a feel-good effect too.
love your sleep, getting enough sleep is essential to our well-being. It is recommended that we aim for about 7-8 hours with regular bed-times and getting-up times. Be aware of the things that reduce your chance of sleeping well; such as caffeine, screen use in the evening, alcohol or heavy meals before bed. The things that can help you get better sleep could include; getting outside in the daylight, warm baths and warm milky drinks in the evening, reading instead of screens and winding down before bed with a few minutes of breathing or relaxation routines
eat well and stay hydrated, it really does make a difference to the way you feel. Eating a healthy balanced diet helps give you the energy to do what you need to do each day. Drinking enough water boosts concentration and stops you feeling sluggish. Fuelling your body well also boosts your mood!
reduce alcohol, try to keep alcohol to very moderate levels. It might be quite usual for you to have a drink when you are feeling low, stressed or tired. This might seem to help in the short-term, but in the long term it can be harmful to both your emotional and physical well-being.
connect with others, spending quality time with others, whether it’s family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours or even a conversation in your local shop, it really can boost your mental well-being. Make contact with friends and family, arrange to meet, get around to making that call or visit. If you are feeling a little lonely, even going to where other people are such as your local park, coffee shop or community centre, can help you feel more connected.
enjoy nature, take the opportunity when you can to go outdoors into nature during the day. It might be doing some gardening, a walk in a park or woods, a swim in the sea, or sitting listening to the birds. There is a lot of research to say that being out in nature is good for our mental health, so build some outdoor time into your day.
get interested, rediscover your hobbies or interests, or try new ones. Engaging in activities we enjoy boosts our mood. Getting absorbed in something that interests us can reduce our stress, as we are not worrying or criticizing ourselves. We can get into a flow which can distract us and ease our mind.
take breaks, make time for you, build a slot in your day when you don’t ‘have to do something’. This might be a five-minute break with a cup of tea, a short walk outdoors to clear your head or a chat with a loved one. We often put off relaxing or taking time for ourselves until ‘we have the time’ to do it. This might not happen. So short breaks fitted into your day, until you can take a proper break, can help. Work towards taking longer breaks, we all need to recharge and relax properly.
be kind, helping a friend or family member or doing nice things for others can make us feel better. People will often remember a kind act and hold on to the way it made them feel for a long time afterwards, so kindness does go a long way! Treating yourself kindly is also important. Try reducing the number of times you criticise or undermine yourself. Be a good friend to you and to others, be kind.
be grateful, appreciating what we do have and counting our blessings helps us look more positively at the world. Building a habit of gratitude in your day-to-day life can help you feel happier and more optimistic. Try thinking of 3 things at the end of each day that you appreciated or enjoyed that day, no matter how small, it can be even more effective if you write them down. Express your gratitude to others to show your appreciation for what they have done or shared with you. These small acts can boost your mood and it is contagious!
laugh, find the little bits of humour in everyday life, watch a comedy programme or read a funny story, laughter is a wonderful medicine!