How to Improve Your Mental Well-Being
Mental well-being describes your mental state – how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life.
Our mental well-being is dynamic. It can change from moment to moment, day to day, month to month or year to year.
If you have good mental well-being you are able to:
- feel relatively confident in yourself and have positive self-esteem
- feel and express a range of emotions
- build and maintain good relationships with others
- feel engaged with the world around you
- live and work productively
- cope with the stresses of daily life
- adapt and manage in times of change and uncertainty
This blog covers some ideas to stay mentally well and develop your ability to cope with the up and downs of life.
If you experience low mental well-being over a long period of time, you are more likely to develop a mental health problem.
If you already have a mental health problem, you’re more likely to experience periods of low mental well-being than someone who hasn’t. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have periods of good well-being.
Below we look at steps you can take to manage your mental well-being, whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, and what support is available if you need it.
Think about what is affecting your well-being
We’re all different. What affects someone’s mental well-being won’t necessarily affect others in the same way. But we all have times when we have low mental well-being, where we feel stressed, upset or find it difficult to cope.
Common life events that can affect your mental well-being include:
- loss or bereavement
- relationship problems
- issues at work
- worry about money
- Stress, loneliness, inactivity, lack of sleep are all negative [for my mental well-being].
Other times there is no clear reason for why we feel the way we do – which can be frustrating.
No matter the reason, it can be helpful to remember that you deserve to feel good and there are steps you can take to improve and maintain your mental well-being.
Build positive relationships
Connecting with others can help us to feel a greater sense of belonging and can help to challenge feelings of loneliness.
- Make time for the people you love. Keeping regular contact with friends and family, whether it’s face-to-face, on the phone or by text, can strengthen your relationships.
- Join a group. Think of the things you like to do, such as drawing, gardening or sport and look for local groups. Meeting others with a shared interest can increase your confidence and build your support network.
- Talk about the way you feel. Opening up to a trusted friend or family member can help you to feel listened to and supported. Just acknowledging your feelings by saying them out loud can help.
- Use peer support. If you’re finding things difficult, talking to people who have similar feelings or experiences can help you to feel accepted.
- Volunteer at a local school or hospice. Giving your time to those that need it can be extremely fulfilling and can help you to look at things from a different perspective.
Take time for yourself
At times you may feel guilty for spending time on yourself. But it’s essential for your well-being and can help you to be more resilient.
Try mindfulness. Being present can help you to become more aware of, and manage, your thoughts, feelings and surroundings. It can help you to enjoy life more and accept the world around you.
Learn something new. Learning new skills can help boost your confidence and give you a sense of achievement. You could learn a new language, sign up for an art class or try a new recipe. It doesn’t have to be something big.
Do something you enjoy. Whether it’s taking a long walk, playing an instrument or going to the cinema, it’s positive for your well-being to do something that makes you feel good. Try relaxation techniques. Doing something that you find relaxing, such as listening to music, colouring in or having a bath can help to reduce stress and improve your mental well-being.
Look after your mental health
If you’re living with a mental health problem, taking steps to look after your mental health can help you improve your well-being.
Tell people what helps. If certain treatments have helped in the past, tell your doctor. Let your friends and family know how they can support you, whether it’s listening to you when you’re having a bad day, helping you keep on top of your commitments, or being aware of your triggers
Spot your early warning signs. If you can, try to be aware of how you’re feeling, and if you can spot any signs you might be becoming unwell. These will be individual to you, but it can be useful to reflect on what these may be so you can get support for your mental health problem as soon as possible.
Keep a mood diary. Tracking your moods can help you to work out what positively and negatively affects your mental well-being. You can then take steps to avoid, change or prepare for negative situations. You can create your own mood diary or try one available online such as moodpanda.com, moodscope.com, medhelp.org/land/mood-tracker and mappiness.org.uk.
Build your self-esteem. Increasing your self-esteem can help you to feel more confident and able to challenge adversity.
Look after your physical health
Looking after your body can help to keep you mentally well. Making small, gradual changes can have a positive impact on your mental well-being – try to start with one or two things you feel able to do.
Our mental and physical health are closely linked. Taking up sport or exercise can help you feel better in lots of different ways.
Exploring how what you eat affects how you view yourself might help you to feel better.
Drugs and alcohol
You may think that drinking and taking drugs boosts your confidence. But these can have a negative effect on your mental well-being.
Getting too little or too much sleep can have a big impact on how you feel.
Set yourself a challenge
Find something you like doing and do more of it. You could take up a hobby, join a class or volunteer your time for something you feel passionate about.
At times it can be hard to find the motivation to set goals for yourself, especially when you don’t feel confident or worry about what other people may think. But it doesn’t have to be something big.
Making small goals such as trying a recipe or learning the days of the week in a new language can help you to feel more positive about yourself.
Focus on ‘small wins’ don’t chase big achievements. Do the little things and use it as a springboard whatever you can do be proud of it!
Ask for Help
Think about treatment options. If you’re finding things really difficult, you might walk to talk to your doctor about any support services in your local area. You might want to try counselling to talk through the things you’re finding challenging with a trained professional.
Don’t pressure yourself to carry on as normal. Take small steps and if you are finding it difficult to cope on your own, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, you may need support at work or help with day-to-day tasks, such as cleaning or childcare.
Plan for a crisis. When you’re really unwell, it can be hard to ask for the support you need or figure out what support you want. Making a crisis plan while you’re well can help you can stay in control of your treatment, and mean other people know how best to help. See our page on crisis plans for more.