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Professional advice on ways to look after your mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from Monday October 8 to Monday October 15, and we have been gathering tips and advice on ways to look after your mental health.

A qualified psychotherapist has shared her advice with us.

Daily exercise

Mary recommends starting with 10 minutes a day and gradually building it up and suggests investing in comfortable footwear.

It is recommended that children and adolescents should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.

Start off the day by eating a good (sugar free) breakfast

This tip is as old as time itself but has been proved countless times to increase overall health. Studies have found individuals who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their daily nutritional needs.

A balanced breakfast includes important nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, calcium and protein.

Reduce time on social media

Although this may be slightly hypocritical to state over online media, if social media is having a negative impact on our health – we should reduce our time on it. On social media, we tend to compare ourselves to what we think  others are doing which is often not true.

Downloadable apps such as Offtime and BreakFree can help with this. Offtime helps users unplug by blocking distracting apps and games and filtering communications. It includes information on how much you actually use your smartphone. Analytics of your phone and app usage can be an important wake-up call, and can help you curb your habits.

Turn down the volume of the inner critic in your head

The inner critic in your head can often come often during tough times. Changing your inner voice and understanding that it might not be is not speaking the truth is a good start.

Once you’ve caught yourself criticising yourself, there are some exercises you can do to help you turn down the volume.
Writing down your thoughts helps to free them from the confines of your mind – this allows you to be visually confronted by the negativity.
At this point you can re-frame it. Moderate it and temper the impact by identifying the negative and exchanging it for a positive.

Treat yourself as you would your best friend

“Find compassion for yourself, it is hard to feel love and compassion for others if we don’t feel it within ourselves.”

Practice breathing – breath in and out to the count of 7

Her last step is to practice breathing. “This is psychological gym for the body/mind. Similar to any new skill the above takes practice and repetition.”

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