As the new year is in full swing we all find ourselves back to the grind of working towards a new sense of self. A better achiever than the year before. The most common resolution is of course, lose weight. Become fitter. Stronger. Healthier. Yet the focus is now shifting onto another area entirely. Mental health.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health issue this year (Mind.org). The royal family are showing their support through campaigns such as Heads Together led by Prince William and Prince Harry. Celebrities such as Freddie Flintoff, Ruby Wax and professor green are also voicing their support by sharing their personal experiences on mental health. Awareness of mental health issues has never been as great than it is now.
This January here at FCF Bootcamps we too as a company want to show our support for mental health. It may be closer to home than you realise. You, a friend or family may or have had in the past personal experiences of how mental health impact on life. While there is no magic formula for a “happy” life, there are aspects that can reduce or encourage a happy state of mind.
Within this post we will briefly go over the basics of encouraging a happy state of mind. It’s unrealistic to think that happiness can be experienced all of the time. It’s in our body’s natural rhythm to experience a range of emotions, happiness only being one of them. However, If you or someone close to you is wanting to improve on mental wellbeing, struggling or not these top tips will help you.
Ten tips for a happier start to the year:
- Go off the grid. Notice the world around you. As much as technology has advanced our way of living, it also creates a toxic bubble for our brains as we live behind our phone screens and fail to look up and see the world around us. Put your phone down and play with your children. Turn your phone off and enjoy that meal with your friend. Leave your phone at the table and relish that conversation with family. Go outside and actually take in that fresh air. Look for the beauty around you. At the end of our day we will not reflect back and regret the missed screen time. Treasured moments with friends and family are the moments that really matter. Invest in them. For those are the things that will bring the greatest happiness.
- Early to bed, early to rise. Sleep and mental health go hand in hand. Poor sleep is often reported with mental health issues. You can however do your best to get a good nights sleep. Keep it cool in your room. When the temperature is low the body produces more melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. Sleep with a weighted blanket to reduce anxiety. Use black out blinds to darken the room. Limit your caffeine levels in the late afternoon and evening. Have a bedtime routine to wind down before actually getting into bed, a well known one is no screen time 30 minutes before you go to bed. Use essential oils such as lavender which help calm the mind. Can you tell I’m a sleep deprived mother? We can all get more sleep. Head over to our blog post “catch some more zzzzz’s” for more on sleep.
- Balance your diet. Be careful of stimulants, alcohol and drugs can pollute your thinking, but be weary of the effects sugar can cause to your body too. Increase the intake of omega 3 in your diet. It has been proven to reduce depression levels. Fresh salmon, flax seeds and walnuts are some easy sources to consume. Plan your meals and be organised with your snacks. If you’re struggling to manage your week it is likely that your diet will be one of the first things to suffer. Preparing your meals for the week and sourcing good snacks will avoid you searching for quick fixes that will be packed with bad fats, sugar and salt. Good food will ultimately help promote a good state of mind.
- Value yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and respect & avoid self criticism. This is the one that I personally find the hardest. I work in the fitness industry, I am a perfectionist and I never admit defeat. It’s a great part of my personality. With that strength I have been able to battle through some of the hardest times in my life and come out the other end reasonably okay. However, it is also my downfall. I rarely give myself credit for my work or recognise when I have achieved something. I have learnt over time that the kinder I am on myself the happier and more confident I am about my day. Be kind to yourself. Make time for yourself in your day. Read a book, plant a garden, try out a new recipe or take a bath. Not only is this good for you but it will bring some welcomed change into the monotony of your scheduled week. Write a gratitude journal. Sounds cheesy, but for the times that you are struggling, having something to read to uplift you will be a help in you bouncing back.
- Take care of your body. Looking after yourself physically can improve your mental wellbeing. We’ve all heard of this before but that’s because its darn true. Exercise will increase the levels of endorphins. These endorphins interact with receptors in the brain to help reduce the level of pain. It will also trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to the effects of morphine. The better condition the body is in the better condition our mind is likely to be in. I know when I have had injures in the past or my body image has not been great my outlook on life has felt bleaker. Learn to feel comfortable with the body you have. Celebrate the things you can do.
- Quiet your mind. Allow for some head space. Try meditation or mindfulness. Yoga for me is my escape. I’m not a pro, but the benefits of yoga are there for anyone who tries it. Get creative, creativity and mental wellness are linked. Whether its colouring, sewing, learning a new language or baking. There are so many things you can do that will give you a greater sense of accomplishment than just watching tv in the evenings. It will boost your self-confidence and resilience.
- Surround yourself with good people. Make a good support network. Almost 5 years ago I made the decision to move away from my hometown and start a new life here in Cambridge. It’s one of the best decisions I have made but also one of the hardest. I often miss the times I would rely on family for support or for a smile. Cherish your loved ones and those who you trust, for they are who will help you make it through life. Find ways to make a healthy support network. It may be harder to trust someone in today’s society, but there are plenty of ways to meet new people, classes and groups are a place to start.
- Recognise your stress triggers and how to unload your stress bucket. Like it or not stress is a part of life. You cannot remove stress from your life, but you can reduce the impact it has on you by how you react. Laughter is the perfect medicine for a stressful situation. Research has proven that laughter can help boost the immune system, ease pain and relax the body. Try breathing exercises in stressful situations, go for walk and breathe in the fresh air, return to the situation with a passion for pulling through.
- Be part of something bigger. I often find I’m happier when I have forgotten myself and helped others. My upbringing taught me to never turn away an opportunity to help others in need. A lady who needs help crossing the road, a mother who needs help with the pram climbing some steps or pushing a gentleman’s broken down car. They may all seem like situations out of a movie but they are all real and can happen to anyone. Keep your eyes open for random acts of kindness. Not only will the recipient be grateful in their hour of need, YOU will walk away full of happiness and your own burdens will be lighter.
- Find your purpose. People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find meaning and purpose? It might come from doing a job that makes a difference, our religious or spiritual beliefs, or our family. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Aimee is our FCF Bootcamp Healthy lifestyle blogger, she creates the recipes and delivers a few boot camp sessions. Aimee shares the Bootcamp motto “Anyone and everyone can achieve” and is motivated through her work to help you achieve.