Money Hacks: Simple Steps to Improve Your Mental Health
The pandemic and cost of living crisis have taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Unfortunately, accessing support can be difficult, with long waiting times and high costs. In the UK alone, over 8 million people suffer from anxiety disorders at any given time, while more than 800,000 are reporting signs of work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
According to Dr Zoe Watson, a GP who runs Wellgood Wellbeing, good mental wellbeing comes down to three basic elements: looking after and connecting to your body, connecting to other humans, and connecting to the world around you, such as nature. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your mental health:
1. Take some gentle exercise: Exercise can help clear your thoughts and make you feel more tired at the end of the day, improving sleep quality. Walking in nature can immediately boost your mood and reduce anxiety. Check your council’s website or search for “wellness walks” or “wellbeing walks” for groups to join near you.
2. Take exercise a little further: If you’re feeling adventurous, try wild swimming. It’s life-affirming, joyous and freeing, and can shock you into being aware of your body. Check out groups such as the Bluetits Chill Swimmers.
3. Go out of your comfort zone: Resilience coach Nicki Bass suggests that everyday adventures, such as standing barefoot in a stream or walking a new dog route, can be powerful in building resilience and confidence.
4. Check out free NHS guides: There are many free resources on the NHS website, such as guides on calming breathing exercises and sleep hygiene.
5. Learn new skills: Learning new skills can boost your self-confidence and sense of purpose, as well as connecting you with others. Try Skillshare or other online courses.
6. Volunteer: Volunteering has numerous benefits for health and wellbeing, such as creating and sustaining social bonds. Visit your local volunteer centre or log on to a site such as Do IT to find opportunities that correspond to your interests and availability.
7. Sing and dance: Singing and dancing allow you to be mindful and live in the moment, shutting off your stream of consciousness. Join a group or sing and dance while doing household chores.
8. Keep talking: Talking to others has proven psychological benefits such as reducing stress, elevating mood, and more effective problem-solving. Find local groups such as Conversation Starter Project.
9. Write a journal: Writing your thoughts down can help you explore your emotions and find gratitude in even negative experiences. Take time to acknowledge and accept difficult emotions rather than pushing them down.
10. Take some “me time”: Make a conscious choice to prioritize things that make you happy and content, such as spending time with supportive people, laughing daily, and doing things you enjoy.
Remember, wellbeing is an individual phenomenon, so what works for one person may not work for another. Try to find what you enjoy and what makes you feel well.