Approximately 13% of Irish people claim to have good mental health*, so what can the rest of us do to improve our own levels of happiness? It may feel overwhelming but following these 10 small steps will make a considerable difference to your life
Many of us feel that we don’t spend enough time with the people we care about. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Isolation and loneliness breed unhappiness and often these things can be products of our own design. We must make time to connect with the people that matter to us. By staying connected and nurturing relationships we feel happier and more secure, giving a better sense of purpose.
Get enough sleep
We tell our children that you need sleep to grow. This is still the case in adulthood. Being tired makes it harder to cope. Sleep deprivation can disrupt your health, your mood and how you function in work, and at home. Aim for eight hours sleep each night. Make sure the room isn’t too hot or too cold. Avoid tea or coffee, and foods high in sugar in the evenings. If you regularly experience difficulty sleeping talk to a specialist.
Mental wellbeing means feeling good about yourself, about the world around you and having the ability to get on with life in the way you want. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body and can help boost your mood. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
The body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace. The food we eat fuels our body and mind so it’s very important to make good food choices. Junk food will leave you feeling lazy and run down, emotionally and physically. Write a list and plan your meals for the week so you won’t be tempted to call the local take away.
It’s easy to rush through the day without stopping to take notice. Paying attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
Learning new skills can positively impact our mental wellbeing. Learning means different things to everyone. To some it will be a new qualification and to others it will be learning a new recipe. Learning new ‘things’ can boost your self-confidence, self-esteem and help you connect with others.
Strive to find the positive in everything. Sometimes it’s easier to retreat back into the negative but push hard to find the positive angle and give it a voice. The more positive words you use, the easier it gets and the happier you will become
Sometimes we think of our wellbeing in terms of what we have; our income, car, home or job. Evidence shows that what we do and the way we think has the biggest impact on our mental wellbeing. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
Find ways to deal with stress
Nobody’s life is stress free. We all have different stresses and different triggers. You need to discover what triggers your stress and to put a plan in place to manage it. Stress can cause both physical and mental health problems so it’s important to find out what helps you. It might be going for a walk, doing some yoga or meditation, or it could be as simple as taking a breath and counting to ten.
Be comfortable with yourself
You are unique in every way and it’s important to get to know yourself and be happy and content with the person you are. Everyone can learn from you, as you can learn from everyone. No one is perfect and if you look at someone else’s life thinking they have it all you are wrong. Everyone has something; some just hide it better than others.
The key to finding happiness is prioritising your happiness above all. This will have a ripple effect on other aspects of your life. Appreciate what you have, smile and practice these ten steps daily.
Post by Irish Life Health
*Source: Healthy Ireland Survey 2016