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5 easy ways to keep your mental health in check at home

Working from home has become the norm. This means more people just aren't leaving their abode. With summer’s arrival, there'll be even more people staying put. With the kids off from school, life can get hectic. We’ve put together a few ways to keep your mental health in check without needing to leave your home.

5. Hear me out - plan to have a bad day

Mindset coach Dr Maurice Duffy advises, “A bad-day plan could include things like a pre-written self-compassion letter that will give you a pep talk when you are struggling, a mindfulness activity that works for you, a relaxation activity such as a bath, a plan to reduce your to-do list – what can you leave until later. Writing a worry journal can help you navigate what you’re feeling. Fill your freezer with nourishing homemade meals you can heat easily at times when everything feels like an effort.

4. Gratitude

“Expressing or feeling gratitude has been shown to promote happiness and guard against anxiety and depression,” says psychologist Dr Alison McClymont. “It has been shown to reduce stress, decrease cortisol levels (our body’s main stress hormone) and increase overall mental well-being.

But there are physical benefits too. Practicing gratitude has even been shown to correlate with lowered risks of heart disease and some cancers, as well as improving symptoms of autoimmune diseases. It’s thought to help people sleep longer and better, with fewer reports of aches and pains.”

Make use of a gratitude jar. Each day, write down something you are grateful for and place it in a jar. The jar will fill over time, and if you need a pick-me-up, pull notes out as a reminder of the positives.

You could also make a gratitude collage if you prefer. Simply take photos of things you are grateful for, from flowers to family members, and arrange them on a large piece of paper when you have a sufficient number. Stick it on the fridge or keep it in a drawer for when you're feeling down.

3. Keep it moving

In whatever way you can, set aside time to move each day – 30 minutes of exercise can make a massive difference to your health, mindset and wellbeing,” says Dr Duffy.

Dr McClymont adds, “Exercising is scientifically proven to stave off ­depression and anxiety, and even in extreme sufferers it has been shown to reduce their symptoms thanks to the increase in serotonin and endorphins (happy hormones), which are released when we exercise.

Working out in the outdoors has been shown to increase release significantly due to the added impact of vitamin D and sun exposure on our brain chemistry.

So while it may not always be tempting to get yourself outside for a run when the weather is dark and cold, the old adage ‘the only workouts you regret are the ones you didn’t do’ is rarely wrong.

2. Surround yourself with your people

Negative relationships are highly detrimental to our mental health,” says Dr Duffy. “Whether with a partner, friend or family, it’s important that you invest your time in people that make you feel good about yourself and add value to your life.

As they say, never allow people with dirty shoes to walk through your brain.

Taking small steps to improve your relationships can make a big difference to your mental well-being and improve the way you feel about yourself and the other people in your life."

1. (Try to) look on the bright side

All of us will have had to deal with bad news, a toxic email, a ­dismissive look or a broken relationship at some point. These are times when our mindset is of most importance,” says Dr Duffy.

The voice in our heads is almost always dramatic and exaggerated, and while we cannot change the events that are external to us, we can choose how we respond. We may be tempted to be negative and imagine worst-case scenarios, become highly critical of ourselves, or worry what people think of us, but we can also choose to be positive, courageous, self-trusting, accepting, goal setting, action orientated or patient.”

While we are often told to think positively or to look on the bright side, it is not always that simple. Having a single response to all situations is not helpful for many of us, and positive thinking does not work for everyone - in fact, it can exacerbate a problem for some. If you are always trying to be positive or happy, you may dismiss your significant feelings and fail to address their root cause.

Sometimes it is better to pause, bring yourself back to the present and level with yourself about how you feel, then formulate a realistic plan to decide what you can do to best alleviate those feelings.

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