Being off work sick recently has not been much fun. I’m stuck at home, unable to drive or go out, and I’m getting very bored. In the past, this might have triggered my anxiety and depression, but not any more. Now, I am equipped with so many ways to keep my mind healthy and I find it even helps me to feel physically better too.
Here are 30 top tips for maintaining a healthy and happy mindset that I have discovered over the years:
1. Living a healthy lifestyle
Making healthy choices to nourish your mind, body and soul is essential. Vitamins, minerals and good food help fuel your body, while exercise is an amazing outlet for emotions too. There’s no need to obsess over weight, looks and measurements, just focus on making yourself feel good. Every healthy choice is a step in the right direction.
The world is your oyster. We are not rooted down like trees, so get out there and explore our beautiful planet, both close to home and further afield. There are some incredible places to explore and it broadens your horizons by introducing you to new cultures, lifestyles and ways of living. Travelling makes me realise how truly lucky we are to be able to share this amazing planet and everything it has to offer.
3. Practicing daily gratitude
Be thankful for the little things. I’m grateful that today is sunny and fresh, grateful for the cuddles from my dog, grateful to be feeling a little better than yesterday, grateful for my family taking care of me. It makes me realise how lucky I really am!
It is a good idea to write down at least one good thing that has happened each day, like getting a seat on the train during your morning commute, or finding a forgotten £5 note in your pocket that you didn’t realise you had, because the little wins in life remind us that there is a lot of good stuff to be thankful for.
4. Getting out into nature
I believe that nature has everything we need to be healthy and happy. I feel like the fresh air in the mountains, the sound of the leaves rustling in the trees and the river flowing gently, are like tonics to the soul. Getting out into nature is refreshing and invigorating and it gives me a brighter outlook and appreciation for everything around me.
5. Surrounding yourself with positive, feel-good people
I’ve learnt that not everyone in my circle makes me feel good about myself or values me as a person and a friend. In fact, some people drag me down and drain my energy, and after spending time with them, I end up feeling low and worthless because of they way they treat me or exclude me. So now, I am mindful of how I feel around certain people or even how I feel when I think about them. I choose to spend more time with those who lift me up, value my time, add positive energy, appreciate my company and bring positivity to my life. It makes such a difference and it is liberating! I choose to spend time around BIG thinkers who have a passion and energy for life and who keep my energy levels high with their contagious positivity.
6. Learning to say NO
I have always been a people-pleaser and would say yes to things even if it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. However, learning to say no and standing up for myself has been a revelation. I’ve stopped doing things I don’t want to do and I don’t feel guilty about it any more. If people don’t like it, it’s tough, and I now know that they’re not worth my time and energy. I have learnt that it is more important to do what you want and to do what makes you feel good, instead of constantly trying to please others, because no mater how hard you try, there’s just no pleasing some people.
7. Avoiding negativity
As I have mentioned in the two previous points, some people and some situations make me feel rubbish about myself. The lead-up to seeing such people, or attending an event with them builds up my anxiety like a wall in front of me. So now, instead of forcing myself to climb over that wall using all the energy I’ve got, and knowing full-well that I’ll feel even worse afterwards, I now make the conscious decision to avoid the situations altogether. If I don’t want to see them or don’t want to do something, I simply won’t. My time is precious and I choose to spend it positively and productively instead, with those who value me as I value them.
8. Embracing ME time
Life can be hectic and we all have so many responsibilities on our shoulders. Work, friends, family, pets, money, cars etc. It can be overwhelming at times and it is easy to forget about taking care of yourself and nourishing your own needs amid your busy lifestyle. But taking some time out for yourself shouldn’t be underestimated or missed out. The power of taking half an hour to relax in the bath, enjoy some peace and quiet, browse the shops, watch a film or do whatever you fancy can be just what you need. Make a little time for yourself each day, because you deserve your ME time!
9. Enjoying Yoga and Pilates
I have tried both Yoga and Pilates. I’m not very good at either, but that doesn’t matter because it is all about going at your own pace and knowing your limits. I find it relaxing and therapeutic. I consider it as ME time because a 45 minute Pilates class is my time to focus on my own body and how I feel. I always leave a class feeling warm and fuzzy, knowing that the stretching and exercises have done my body good, while the breathing techniques and time out have done my mind good. It is like a pause from my busy daily life and every time I go, I tell myself I should make more time for it.
10. Setting goals
Everyone is different, but personally, I like having goals to work towards. It could be something small, like saying hello to a stranger in a coffee shop or doing a good deed for someone else each day. Or it could be something bigger, like taking the plunge into setting up a business like you’ve always wanted to. I try to have a nice mix of both and I make sure that they are personal goals that mean something to me. But, importantly, if I don’t achieve them, it doesn’t matter. It is all about the journey rather than the final destination. Recently, I went for a bigger goal and have started my own online health and wellness business. Lots of people have questioned why, but their opinions don’t matter to me. I am doing this for myself and for my own personal growth, and I am enjoying the process every step of the way.
11. Being kind to yourself
If you’re having a bad day, it is time to be kind to yourself. If you are feeling low, don’t make life hard for yourself… Make it easier instead. Treat yourself to that cake you craved in the bakery window and don’t feel guilty about it even if you’re on a diet. Remind yourself that every day, you are doing the best you can! Life is all about balance, so when you’re feeling a little unbalanced, do the little things that you feel you need to do to realign and even things out. Today might be a bad day, but tomorrow is a new day and everything can be different. Recognise that it is OK to have a down day, but acknowledge that it’s just one day and not every day!
12. Helping others
As a former children’s nurse, helping others is ingrained in my personality. It makes me feel good, so I do it as much as I can. Whether that’s just listening to my friends and letting them vent when they’re having a hard time, or going out of my way to do something positive for someone else. I try to do a little something every day to help someone else. Donating some spare change to charity or buying a coffee for the homeless lady that I pass near the train station on my way to work takes very little effort on my part but brings so much joy to me and others. I won’t miss the pennies and I can make myself a coffee, but just imagine the difference it can make to help someone else in this way. It also reminds me how very lucky I am to have everything I’ve got around me and the ability to help others in need.
I am far from an exercise enthusiast. I’ve never been to a gym in my life. In fact, my Dad is sporty and fit, but I think I missed out on inheriting those genes. However, I do recognise the power and benefits of exercising regularly. It releases endorphins to boost your mood and it keeps you physically healthy. But aside from that, it builds your strength and determination and drive for life. I enjoy Boxercise when I’m stressed, going for a run in the great outdoors when I’m feeling overwhelmed, climbing at Boulders when I’m up for a challenge, or playing squash just for fun. You don’t have to compete or compare yourself to others. Simply enjoy the activity and the benefits to your mind and body too.
14. Writing a blog
I appreciate that not everyone enjoys blogging like I do, but I find it to be a fantastic way to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper (or in my case, into a WordPress blog post!)
Sometimes, I find myself thinking about so much and juggling so many feelings, thoughts and ideas, that it makes it hard to focus on anything else. So I started my blog by treating it as my personal space to share my musings and flex my creativity, and it has grown into a hobby and something that I love doing ever since. I never expected anyone to read it, but then it developed into a travel, adventure and lifestyle blog and now I’m proud of how it can help others in so many different ways.
15. Making plans
I love making plans (big and small) to do things or go to places in my spare time. Every plan I make gives me something to look forward to and that’s the key for me. Whether it is next year’s summer holiday or next week’s coffee date with a friend, I love having things booked in to fill my time with meaning and activity. It stops me from getting bored and it keeps me motivated and constantly looking forward.
16. Trying new things
Thanks to my blog, I have found a passion for trying new things. It is exciting and I’ve discovered so many enjoyable things that I might never have tried before, simply by stepping out of my comfort zone. With my blog, I decided to push myself to go to new places that I could write about and share, but also push myself to find new things to do as well. I’ve done pottery and drawing; made my own terrarium and printed my own tote bag; watched theatre shows and musicals; visited food festivals and more. It has been a learning curve and it has helped me to broaden my horizons, appreciate things more and meet new people. But above all, I look forward to discovering new hobbies and uncovering new talents. Any suggestions on what I should try next?
17. Looking ahead and not dwelling on the past
Sometimes we all have a tendency to dwell on the past, but the future is what we really need to focus on as that’s where exciting things are going to happen. We can’t change the past but we can shape our futures. It is always good to reminisce a little and look back at old photos and think about good memories, but we shouldn’t get lost in the ‘good old days’ when even better days are coming! Times change and people change with them, so look forward to the exciting new memories you can make and the wonderful new people you are yet to meet, rather than yearning for those in your past. It completely changes your outlook on life and will make you ever more grateful for the memories you can cherish.
18. Focusing on the here and now
As much as the past and future play a big part in our lives, focusing on the current moment has been beneficial for me. Too much time and energy is wasted on capturing the perfect picture for Instagram or checking-in on Facebook just to show the world what an amazing life you’re living. It is great to share these things, but sometimes I feel like we miss out on the here and now while we are busy updating a status on our smart phones. I saw so many people filming fireworks displays on Bonfire night, but who really watches that?! And after all that effort, they missed the spectacle that was right in front of them for the sake of recording it for social media. So let’s start living in the present!
When feeling anxious or having a down day, I learnt my own method of grounding myself – bringing my thoughts and feelings back into perspective. To do this, I would recognise 5 things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. This brought all 5 senses into my thoughts, allowing me to focus on the moment and rationalise my feelings. Try it… it is surprisingly helpful when you feel like things are getting too much for you!
20. Meditating and mindfulness
I’ve tried meditating a few times and I don’t think I’ve mastered the skill just yet. But even so, I still feel the benefits of meditation because it offers me some quiet time to focus on myself and reflect on my thoughts and feelings. I also try to be more mindful about things that I do and really appreciate all the little things and how they make me feel. I have tried a few apps like Calm, which offer guided meditation and mindfulness exercises for beginners. These are a good place to start.
21. Exploring personal development
I have never really appreciated the value of personal development as much as I have come to value it recently. Since starting my Arbonne business, I have been surrounded by inspiring, uplifting and empowering people who are making a success of their lives. Their secret is personal development! They have listened to audios, read books and done extra training to develop their skills and self-confidence, changing their mindset into that of winner, a goal-achiever and a dreamer. I’ve started my personal development journey and I’m seeing positive changes in myself already.
22. Choosing positive thoughts
When we are feeling low, we tend to focus on internal negativity; how sad we are, how lonely we feel and how terrible life seems to be. It is all blown out of proportion and that is the nature of it. However, you can make a conscious effort to choose a more positive view on life. It is all about recognising the good things, no matter how small and having a “glass half full” outlook. So yes, you might be having a down day, but it is only one day and you know tomorrow will be better. And yes, you might be feeling lonely, but you are not alone and you are surrounded by people who care. Every cloud has a silver lining. You just need to look for it and not let your negativity spiral out of control.
23. Valuing positive quotes
Social media has a lot to answer for in society today, but it’s not all bad. One thing I love is the easy access to quotes about positivity. Instagram and Facebook are full of them and they are uplifting and inspiring, so I like to keep a note of them. You can even print them out and stick them around your house as a little reminder to look on the bright side. I also love to buy postcards with positive quotes on them to decorate my room, hide in random pages of my diary as a nice surprise for myself and to give to friends as a pick-me-up. It’s only a little thing, but it certainly makes me smile.
24. Reading a good book
I’ve always been a bit of a book worm but find that I don’t have as much time to read as I would like. But I think that reading is the best form of escapism there is. When you pick up a good book, you can find yourself lost in the pages and immersed in another world for a little while, and sometimes it is just nice to leave behind the real world and explore a different one for a change of scene. A couple of easy reads that I’ve enjoyed recently are “Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine” and “How to stop time” – I couldn’t put either down and would highly recommend them!
25. Listening to an audio book
When I’m feeling particularly rubbish or under the weather, reading is not always something that I want to do. But I’ve recently discovered audio books. I’m fussy, because sometimes I don’t like the voice narrating the story and that annoys me if I’m feeling irritable, but when you find a good one, it is so relaxing to just spend a bit of time listening the a tale unfold. It reminds me of being told a bedtime story when I was a child!
26. Going for a walk
Walking is under-rated. A walk is good for you in so many ways. It blows away the cobwebs and clears the senses, yet it is also physical exertion and can be a fantastic social activity too. I enjoy walking across the hills and mountains of the Brecon Beacons, where it feels like an escape from hectic daily life. I can really appreciate the beauty of nature there. I can thank my parents for this love of walking as they are avid walkers too and introduced me to it at a young age. I may not always be able to get to the Brecon Beacons, but a stroll in the park on my lunch break or a wander along the local Sirhowy Valley trail can still do a world of good.
27. Spending time with my dog
Going for walks brings me nicely onto this next point. Spending time with my dog is a therapy like no other. Whether that is going for a walk, playing a game or having a cuddle, animals (especially dogs) are so sincere and loving and always willing to listen. Their love is unconditional. My little fur baby – Pepsi – always seems to know if I’m not feeling well and she tries her best to “nurse” me by giving the best cuddles! She is affectionate and caring in her own way and she always puts a smile on my face with her quirky personality.
I’m not the sort of person who finds cooking to be a relaxing and enjoyable activity. Quite the opposite actually. Cooking stresses me out because I can never get the timings right and some things get burnt while others are under cooked. I also have a lot to live up to with an Italian Mum and an ex-chef Dad, so I feel like my cooking is never quite as tasty as theirs. But I do enjoy eating food, all sorts of food – especially sweet things! For me, baking isn’t stressful like cooking. I find it much more enjoyable and love sharing my bakes with family and friends if they last long enough. I think lemon drizzle cake is my speciality!
29. Getting arty and creative
Creativity is an amazing outlet for your emotions, thoughts and feelings. I like to consider myself a creative person. I am always brimming with new ideas and visions, but that doesn’t mean I’m very good at translating it into art. But that doesn’t matter! Art doesn’t have to be good and it doesn’t have to look perfect. It has taken me a while to learn this, as I am a perfectionist at heart, but for me, art and creativity is more about the journey, enjoying the activity and having fun. I’ve tried drawing portraits and caricatures at a Drink and Draw event; pottery at a ceramics class; painting on textiles and architectural drawing at Bottles and Brushes; building my own terrarium and loads more. It is safe to say that none of my creations are framed or displayed around my house (except my beautiful terrarium!), however, I am rather proud of my wonky handmade mug which is currently in use as a pencil pot on my desk in work!
30. Having a duvet day and film marathons
When you’re feeling ill or can’t face the world, sometimes a duvet day is just what you need. In general, I would advise you to get out and about as much as possible, but if you are struggling or physically unwell like I am at the moment, there’s nothing wrong with a cosy duvet day. You need to listen to your body and if you’re tired and aching, you need to take it easy. Personally, when I have a duvet day, I love to watch films and the Harry Potter series is always a winner for me!
These are just some of the ways that I have learnt to manage my depression and anxiety over the years and they have proved to be valuable lessons. Many of these things now help me when I’m under the weather, feeling stressed, preparing for an interview, helping friends out and so much more!
Above all, it is important to know that you are the only YOU there ever has been, and ever will be. So what works for me, might not work for you and that’s OK. Just make it your mission to uncover your own coping mechanisms which will help you now and in the future too.
What methods have you discovered that work for you and help you to maintain a healthy mindset?