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Mental well-being first aid – top tips from medical experts

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Our mental well-being is of huge importance as it has an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. As we get busy or face challenges in our lives, it can be something we overlook or forget to make time for. Here are our top tips from our medical experts here at Healthwords on how to keep a check on your mental well-being and help yourself stay healthy. Good mental well-being does not mean you will always feel happy, but it can help us cope better with the challenges we face in day-to-day life. Aiming for contentment is more realistic.

Our first top tip is exercise. You may not look forward to exercising, but it can give a substantial boost to your mental well-being. Increased blood flow to the brain increases brain cell growth and the generation of new connections. Endorphins and dopamine are released, helping make us feel good and giving us better sleep. Resilience to stress is improved, and it has a positive impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety.

It helps posture, too – the better you hold yourself when you sit or stand, the fewer aches and pains you get, but evidence shows that you also feel more confident and content within yourself.

Schedule in "you time"

Even if it's as short as 10 minutes, setting aside some regular time just for yourself is important for your mental well-being. You may want to just sit quietly and reflect, check-in on how you're feeling and learn to recognize where your stress levels are. Take the time to do something relaxing, such as reading, yoga, having a bath, or listening to a podcast. These resets can help top up our mental resilience and reduce stress.

Take regular "awe walks"

We can get lost in our own thoughts and feelings. Spending time looking outwards and finding beauty in nature gives us a feeling of wonder – the awe factor – and has been proven to increase mental well-being and even physical health. So one way to incorporate this into your life is by going on regular awe walks where you actively try and notice the beauty of nature or the environment you're in – try this weekly, or even better, daily. If you can't get out to walk, the awe factor is there to be discovered in art and music, too.

Share your troubles

It's the cheesy catchphrase you've heard a thousand times, a problem shared is a problem halved, but it does have some truth to it. Bottling up worries causes a negative impact on your mental well-being. Talking them through can help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that may have built up. Whether it's with a trusted friend, a support group, or a professional such as a psychologist, it is important to find somewhere where you can feel listened to. Also, just the act of connecting with others, even if you don't talk about your feelings, can help improve your mental well-being. So reach out, and stay in touch.

Avoid excessive alcohol or recreational drugs

Although alcohol may make some people feel good in the short term, taken to excess, it can have a negative impact on your mental well-being. This is because it is a depressant and causes changes to the amounts of some of the chemicals in our brain, which then impacts how we feel. It is linked to higher levels of anxiety and stress as well as depression, and it can disrupt the good sleep that helps us recover and repair. Street or party drugs also have a negative impact on your mental well-being and can lead to developing mental health conditions or worsen pre-existing ones.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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