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DAD.info | Family | Health | Your health | 8+ habits that will improve your mental health

8+ habits that will improve your mental health

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, but we believe you should focus on your mental health every day. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, and even if you don’t feel low now, there are ways you can optimise your every day mental health to help prevent those dips and cope better with what life throws at you. Here’s 8+ habits that will improve your mental health:

Get fresh air every day- be in nature

It can be particularly hard to find time for getting outdoors when you have a full day of work and responsibilities at home. However, even 20 minutes of time outside can make all the difference. Try taking the kids with you for a dusky walk in the evening, or a dog walk after dinner. Your lunch hour is another opportunity to stretch your legs and get outside too. If you have a bike, try riding your bike to work. The weekends are a great opportunity to enjoy being outdoors, even in colder weather. The kids will love rambles through the woods, walks along the beach or family cycle rides.

When outside, try to take in what’s around you using your senses. What can you hear- birds maybe? What can you smell? What can you see? Engaging your senses in this way is great for the soul and lowers stress.

Make opportunities to learn and be creative

Look for pockets of time when you can indulge in your hobbies or interests. Your partner could make a plan with you for making sure you both get regular headspace time. With that time you can do something positive for your mind- read a book, have a go at a new hobby, or engage your brain.

Learning new things, even for 10 minutes a day, creates a feeling of achievement which leads to feeling good. Try learning a language, have a go at a musical instrument, or try out new recipes.

Connect with other people

Seeing other people outside of your family is important. Socialising helps reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improving mood. Try and find the time to meet a friend every few weeks, or meet up with other families together with the kids.

It can seem difficult to find the time to meet up with others, but it’s important for your feeling of connection and community.

Look to reduce stress

This one sounds easier said than done, but you can reduce stress by creating boundaries and saying ‘no’ more. Turn down anything that stretches you too far and will add extra pressure- even seeing relatives. Avoid packing too much into your weekends and try and find space to just take it easy. You’ll know if something asked of you feels like too much- don’t be afraid to put yourself first.

Move your body

As mentioned above, getting fresh air is important, and physical activity is also key. It might seem like exercise might be a drag, but you needn’t enroll in a gym or lift weights. Look to find opportunities for exercise that you enjoy. You could exercise with a friend or your partner, and play a racquet sport or try golf. If you’d like to meet new people, look online also for sports teams you could join. Exercising at home is increasingly common too, and great free fitness videos are available on YouTube.

Use your mind

Engage your brain every day- even for only 10-15 minutes. It gives you a sense of achievement and growth. Hit the local library to find some new books, have a go at Wordle, or try and complete a crossword puzzle.

Prioritise sleep

It can be tempting to grab extra time to yourself when you should be in bed, but your wellbeing will thank you for the extra rest. Look to turn in 30 minutes- an hour earlier, avoid the news and screens, and try reading a book before turning out the light.

Talk to someone

Men can find it difficult to open up, however it can be the difference between positive or negative mental health. Share with your partner or a friend what’s stressing you, or you could attend a local Talk Club in order to chat to other men in a friendly, easy-going setting. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope, see your GP, or you can contact one of the support lines/ text services listed below.

Further support

Text SHOUT

Call the Calmzone helpline from 5pm

Call the Samaritans

Find out about counselling at Spurgeons

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