The 10th of October marks World Mental Health Day which is an annual awareness campaign for encouraging people to take a more positive view on mental illness. This year’s campaign comes at an increasingly important time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With social isolation becoming common around the world, we have outlined 5 simple ways you can help have a more positive outlook on yourself and others. Usually, the simplest acts compounded over time can have a tremendous impact on managing a positive mental health and wellbeing outlook.
Go for a walk
A simple 30-minute walk a day can help reduce stress, releases endorphins which is the pleasure producing chemical in our body, alleviates anxiety, increases relaxation and improves self-worth. Walking also encourages you to be ‘present’ and more focused on your environment which can help you become more appreciative of nature as well as help you think clearly without any external noise.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk as outlined in the previous point, jog, run or even lifting weights. Regular exercise has a significant impact on not only your mental health but also physical wellbeing. A Harvard study found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Additionally, regular exercise also promotes many health benefits including improved sleep, better endurance, stress relief, improvement in mood and reduced tiredness that can increase mental alertness to name a few.
Catch up with friends or family (or Facetime, Skype etc)
As humans, we are considered to be ‘social animals’ and having a sense of community and involvement contributes to us feeling good and having a positive outlook on life. Organise regular catch-ups with friends and family if you are able to do so or use Facetime and Skype to chat virtually. By developing and maintaining healthy social relationships it can help boost our feelings of happiness, security and self-worth.
Practice regular gratitude
Every day it’s very easy to be exposed to negativity. We’re actually hardwired to have a natural negativity bias as this was vital for our ancestors to survive. Practising regular gratitude can have a beneficial effect on your wellbeing by reframing your mind to focus on all the great things you have. It is one of the most useful results of research in the field of positive psychology, by quantifying the positivity in your life and making it a habit it can slowly retrain your mind to focus away from the negativity bias.
A kind gesture such as giving a compliment to your peers releases endorphins which promotes a feeling of pleasure, social connection and trust. Scientific studies show that helping others or even simply showing a smile can boost your happiness, increase life satisfaction, increase feelings of competences and reduces stress.