1. FITNESS AND SPORTS
This one’s a no-brainer, but there is no better way to boost both your physical and mental health than with good old endorphins. Studies suggest that regular exercise can help reduce your risk for several physical conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis, as well as mental afflictions including depression and anxiety, helping you to better manage the level of stress. If you don’t lead a very active lifestyle and going to the gym isn’t your cup of tea, why not give something new a try, like Tabata or open air yoga?
2. EAT (& THINK) HEALTHY
Start from the inside out. Not only is healthy eating essential for maintaining a strong body, but diet is also proven to drastically affect our mood and mental health too. Target both body and mind by adopting a diet high in protein and low in refined carbohydrates and sugars to help maintain a lean body and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as improve focus and concentration. If you have a meat-free lifestyle, protein powder is a convenient way of upping your protein intake and, when teamed with exercise, helps to build muscle effectively. In addition to these dietary tweaks, try exploring natural supplements to boost your nutritional intake of the good stuff, specifically the following (because who said pill-popping couldn’t be good for you?):
3. HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
You may have heard the saying ‘You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with’, and this couldn’t be truer! Surrounding yourself with negative people is shown to have a negative effect on your mood; conversely, spending time with optimistic, happy people lifts your mood and is a great way of changing your state of mind. While we don't encourage turning a friend away on a bad day, take a look at your immediate circle of friends and acquaintances and identify which people drain you of energy, rather than lift you up, and try to spend more time with the latter. In intimate relationships, the same applies, so make sure your partner is someone who brings the best out in you, and you in them for a mutually satisfying relationship.
4. SELF LOVE
Not that kind of self-love… but practicing a little inner appreciation goes a long way. It’s often an automatic internal reaction to blame ourselves or feel we are not good enough when things don’t go as we expect them to. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding as you would a friend when your inner voice admonishes you, and be forgiving. To beat this pattern of negative thoughts, try to identify each time one of these thoughts comes into your head and counter it with a positive one about yourself, to gradually build up your self-esteem and give you a more positive outlook on your life. Eventually, this positive self-talk will naturally outweigh the original inclination towards chastising yourself.
5. TALK TO SOMEONE
Sadly, the rate of suicide is significantly higher in men than it is in women. This difference is in part attributed to the fact that men often feel unable or embarrassed to seek help for depression, or unwilling to show any sign of weakness to others. If you are feeling persistent symptoms of feeling low, try reaching out to someone close to you, or seek the advice of a medical professional to help relieve you of your symptoms. Once again, physical exercise is a great way of lifting symptoms of depression, as is keeping a diary to help you track your moods and identify possible triggers for them.
At a basic level, meditation is a great distraction from others sources of stress or concerns, if only in that it forces your mind to focus on something else for a set amount of time. On a more scientific level, studies show that meditation reduces
your body’s production of stress-related chemicals such as cortisol, and increases the intensity of the brain waves associated with the relaxation response. You can meditate for as little as 10 minutes a day, and you can do it almost anywhere (although we advise against doing it when you’re in a company without warning your guests first).
7. ME TIME
Particularly for those who don't feel fulfilled by their full-time jobs, having time to yourself to do something you love or find relaxing is important to build into each day, whether it is an hour playing FIFA or 10 minutes reading an article. Find which hobby is for you, no matter how small it is, and make sure you build time into your day for it.
8. SET GOALS
Think of the satisfaction you get from ticking things off of a work checklist, now apply that to yourself! Set yourself some goals, a bit like a new year’s resolution but with less regret. Give yourself achievable targets for things you would like to change or improve in your life, no matter how small. Your goals could even include taking up a new hobby or trying something new. The simple satisfaction of achieving something you’ve been meaning to get to will leave you feeling motivated and accomplished.
For some, sleep is but a luxury. While a lack of sleep is not proven to help combat illness, there is a definite link between lack of sleep and heart disease, amongst other conditions. If you can’t hit your recommended 8 hours sleep a night that are meant to help you with better brain functioning and memory, try building a nap into your day. Napping for as little as 20 minutes has been established to boost your energy and concentration levels significantly.
10. MAN’S BEST FRIEND
No, we’re not talking about your browser history settings. This one’s good news for animal lovers! Studies show that owning pets can reduce tension and improve your mood drastically. As well as providing companionship, pets create routine and responsibility for their masters, which in turn promotes self-esteem as you take ownership of caring for something else. Needless to say, having a pet also helps with getting daily exercise, as well as social interaction too (girls love men with puppies). If all else fails, a well-trained pet can fetch the newspaper when you just can’t face getting out of bed. Winning.
Photo Credit: Telegraph.co.uk