It’s Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa, and in the current state of the world there’s no better time to pay attention to your mental wellbeing. Mental health is so important, but so often overlooked. No matter what you’re going through, we want you to know that you and your experiences are valid, no matter how big or small.
Whether you’ve been stressed about the pandemic, feeling cabin-fever from isolating, suffering from burn-out or experiencing anything else that affects your mental health, this is for you. We’ve compiled a few concrete steps that you can take to slowly improve your mental health: it’s a journey, not a sprint. So take a few minutes to yourself and keep reading for tips to take care of yourself.
Practice gratitude, kindness and self-love
It may sound a bit corny at first, but practicing gratitude and self-love is a tried-and-true way to improve your mental health. You can practice self-love with something as simple as a daily affirmation of your own worth (which is a lot, trust us). You could also take it a step further and write yourself a love letter: write down all the things you love about yourself, as if you’re writing it about someone else. When you’re done, put it away. Later, have a look at it with a fresh mind. See how amazing you are? Believe it.
Practising gratitude also helps. You could start by simply listing everything you’re thankful for. Try calling the people you love and let them know that you’re thankful to have them in your life. If that seems a bit too much, you could lend a helping hand, or give someone a compliment, and watch them smile!
Yes, we said it. Take some time off from social media. Trust us, this can make a world of difference to your mental health. Especially when you’re at home, seeing all those beautiful people on vacation and living their best lives, it’s easy to forget how amazing you are, and all the ways you could be living your best life. So have a little social detox, FaceTime a friend, spring clean your home, wear that outfit you’ve been saving for a special occasion… There’s a lot of other, more fulfilling things to focus on.
Get some fresh air and good food
Always remember to fuel your body with plenty of water and the nutrition it needs. In time you will feel the difference a well-balanced diet can have on your physical and emotional well-being, as well as your mental health.
And as important as healthy food is, so is fresh air. Don’t forget to crack open a window, stand in the sunshine, or step outside for a few minutes a day if you can. The difference this can make is truly incredible!
Treat yourself to a hair and face mask pamper session
This may sound like a “typical” self-love technique, but there’s no denying that it works. To improve your mental health, it’s important to incorporate techniques that will help you in the long-run, as well as techniques that help you in the now. And the great thing about this technique is the instant gratification you get from a calming hair and face mask pamper session.
To get the most out of your pamper session, we suggest you use products that are good for you but also smell amazing. After all, using all of your senses will help to ground you in the now. One of the best smelling hair masks, hands down, is the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Deep Smoothing Mask. It’s great for most hair types and will give your hair that luscious smoothness.
If your hair needs a bit of extra TLC though, you could try the Dove Intensive Repair Deep Treatment Mask. Once you’re done with this, your hair will be softer, stronger and as beautiful as you.
Get enough sleep
This is one that we have to admit, can be so difficult to get right! It sounds so easy: just get more sleep. But with so much to do and so little time, it can be hard to get to bed on time. But believe it or not, putting your work away and getting more sleep will not only help improve your mental health and make you happier in the long run, but it will also help keep you productive. This is because our peak mental and physical performance can only occur if we’re well-rested, which can only happen if we’ve gotten enough good-quality sleep.
If you struggle sleeping, we suggest putting your phone away at least an hour before bed. Instead, grab a book – which brings us to our next tip…
Read a new book or re-read a book you love
Reading is a great way to induce sleepiness at night. But that’s not all it does: it’s also a great form of escapism and it gets your imagination going in all the right directions. In short, it’s an all-round, wholesome activity that everyone could benefit from.
Try a new hairstyle
You know that hairstyle you’ve always wanted to try (or learn) but have just never gotten around to it? Now is the time to do it. This will be a really fun and easy way to learn a new skill — and the feeling of pride in yourself once you’ve finally accomplished it is really irreplaceable. Like the third tip, this can give a sense of instant gratification that can be vital in keeping you going strong on your mental health journey.
Get your body moving
It’s been proven that regular exercise is great for both physical and mental health. And we’re not just talking about high-intensity workouts or anything intense. You could take walks or literally play your favourite music and dance for 30 minutes a day and that’s good enough! Anything that really gets your body moving works.
Create a “feel-good” playlist
Tying in with our previous tip, create a playlist of “feel-good” songs. Music has been shown to have a massive effect on our emotional state, so take advantage of that by listening to songs that make you feel happy, positive and empowered.
Slow, deep breathing slows your heart rate, which helps to switch into a more relaxed state of mind. Doing this doesn’t require any intense meditation or hours of contemplation. In fact, it can be as simple as taking 5 to 10 deep, measured breaths. If you do want to try meditation, we highly recommend it, but do whatever suits you best. As long as you focus on your breath, you will soon find yourself a lot more calm and centred.