On World Suicide Prevention Day, we wanted to remind you how important it is to take care of yourself and your mental health to get the most from life. So, below are 6 practical ways to look after your mental health.
Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Anyone can follow this advice. Why not start today?
1. Take a break.
You know when you need one, and you know you’ll be more productive if you take one. So why do we all feel so selfish when we do it? Try to think of it as preventive medicine—by taking a day to relax and recharge now, you’re giving your body (and immune system) some time to catch up, which could help prevent an actual sick day in your future.
2. Do something else besides watching Netflix.
If you’ve lost track of more nights than you can count while binge-watching a series, only to feel tired and groggy and kind of behind on life the next day, try a little experiment where you don’t watch TV before bed for a week. Use that time to read, color, call your mom, journal, take a bath, whatever. For a lot of people, zoning out with a good series can be a therapeutic coping mechanism, which is great, but it’s helpful to find other tools for calming down at the end of the day. And maybe you’ll find one that won’t occasionally keep you up until 2 a.m.
3. Eat Well.
Your brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
Mediation might seem like a thing that only yoga teachers do, but it doesn’t need to be a whole thing to be effective. Don’t worry about accomplishing anything or reaching some sort of enlightenment when you do it; just the fact that you’re taking a few minutes to calm down and focus on your breathing is huge. If you don’t know where to start, just sit quietly and focus on breathing in and out, slowly, for two minutes. Then work up to five minutes the next time you do it.
5. Get some sleep.
It’s time to make time for sleep. Without it, not only will you feel like a groggy mess at work and in life, but your mental health will almost certainly suffer. Sleep isn’t a magic reset button for your moods, but it can make a huge difference when you’re not getting enough.
6. Positive Jar.
Write down a bunch of positive affirmations and healthy coping mechanisms and put them in a jar for when you need to snap out of a negative thought spiral. The point is to remind yourself you have options when you’re blinded by negative thoughts that tell you there’s nothing that will help you. These can be simple reminders (“You are loved”), coping strategies (“Take a walk and have some water”), or Beyoncé lyrics—whatever will help you regain focus when you’re struggling with your mental health.
It’s okay not to be okay. If you are ever in a crisis, please call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273- TALK (8255) or text TALK to the crisis line at 741741.