Growing fast in popularity as a top way to improve your mental health is the practice of gratitude: writing down the things you are grateful each day. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it…even on a really bad day you’ll be amazed where you can find a glimmer of light: the colour of the leaves on the trees, someone let you pull out in front of them in the traffic queue, the stranger who smiled at you in the street. Start looking for things that you’re grateful for and many more will begin to enter your life.
Be kind to someone
Doing something selfless for someone is a sure-fire way to create happy hormones in your body. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture: stop the car to let someone cross the street, text a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them, offer to reach something off a high shelf in the supermarket. Doing good things makes us feel good, so look for those small opportunities especially on a bad day.
Move your body
It’s well documented that physical movement helps our mental state. You don’t have to don your lycra and attempt to be an ‘athlete’, but just do something that moves your body: stretch, go for a walk, run up and down the stairs a few times, put on some music and dance. It doesn’t have to be onerous, but just enough to up your heart rate and get some oxygen into your brain. You’ll feel better after only 15 minutes.
Phone a friend
No, not the one that you want to have a moan with. Call the one who you know is always a bit of a pick-me-up. The raucous one. The one who will make you laugh. The one who knows what to say to make you feel better. Human connection is so important when we feel down and even more so at a time when we can feel a bit isolated. Reaching out to another human being and feeling like you ‘belong’ is a huge boost to our wellbeing.
Have a digital detox
If you’ve had a bad day then the worst thing you can do is top up your negativity by sitting on the sofa scrolling through the relentless doom and gloom of social media. Whether it’s other’s ‘highlights’ making you feel bad about your own life, the angry rants about the lack of toilet rolls or media outlets finding yet another spin on the pandemic….do yourself a favour - switch it off for a couple of hours and do something nice instead.
Make a plan
OK, so today might feel like a write-off. Then do just that. Draw a line under it. Write a plan instead for the following day so that you go to bed feeling like you’ve achieved something. There’s no law that says that one bad day needs to roll forwards into the next. Resolve to make the next day better by knowing what you’re going to try to get done, that you have activity plan and a determined mindset when you get up.
Go back to basics
By far and away the best defences against a negative mindset are healthy food and a good nights’ sleep. Whilst having a binge on chocolate/wine/ice cream/crisps and a box-set late into the evening might seem like a ‘reward’ for the bad day you’ve had, the truth is you know that the sugar-crash, examination of your spare tyre and resultant bags under your eyes are NOT going to get the next day off to a good start. Instead have a nice bath, a cup of herbal tea and an early night - you know it makes sense.