Take One Step for Better Mental Health

We’re encouraging people to ‘take one step for better mental health, whether for themselves or to help someone they know.

For people with mental illness, finding ways to regain some control in their lives can be a positive step towards good mental health.

We’ve put together some information and resources to help you ‘take one step for better mental health’.

Starting steps for better mental health - connect with others, get plenty of sleep, do something you enjoy, be in the present, be mindful, look after your physical wellbeing

Take first steps and make small changes in the things you do every day.  Don’t try to do everything at once, but maybe look where one step can make an impact on your wellbeing. Perhaps focus initially on improving your sleep, and look at our resources for getting to sleep easier and staying asleep for longer.

Connect with others and be sociable

Someone holding someone else's hand in support

There is a place for virtual connections, particularly while we are dealing with a global pandemic, but meeting people face-to-face is a real mood-booster and offers huge benefits for your wellbeing. If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety or isolation, find someone who will listen who you can talk to regularly and turn to if things get tough.

Maybe you can give your time to someone who is struggling to cope? Try to recognise when someone is not coping. Offer a chat, a cup of tea, or perhaps a walk – connecting with nature can be a great benefit, and it is less intense for someone you are trying to reach out to.

Check on a neighbour, or call in on a friend, even behind a mask, you can connect with a nod to an acquaintance – caring for others, even those you don’t know, can lift your mood and have a positive effect on your day.

Read our blog post about Kindness here

Be in the present – be mindful

It may not be possible to eliminate all stress from your life, but there are a few strategies you can adopt to help you to manage stressful events. Talk to someone – sharing your fears or concerns with someone can give you a sense of perspective that just isn’t possible when things are whirling around your head. The distance that articulating thoughts can offer can help to restore some calm.

Take time to assess and process your thoughts, try to look around you and find things that are awe-inspiring, calming, or just raise a smile. Press pause on daily tasks to make room for activities that you enjoy – go for a walk, read a book, listen to music. And don’t rush back to the things that are causing you to feel anxious, you are not just indulging yourself, finding joy is vital to positive mental health.

Girl with mug stares thoughtfully out of a window

Do Something You Enjoy

It is quite likely that you’re quite good at doing the things that you enjoy. While it can be difficult to get motivated, spending a little time doing something that you are good at, and enjoy doing, can be a boost for your self-esteem and may improve your mood. Perhaps your step forward is with a determination to learn a new skill or hobby. The process of focussing on an activity, particularly a new activity, will leave less room for worrying thoughts.

"I was finding it so hard to do anything. My daughter suggested I try a word search. I wasn't sure it would help, but I actually did feel better when I'd finished it."

Look after your physical wellbeing

Exercise and physical activity can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Rekindle a love of running with one of many running apps for starters, the NHS has a Couch to 5K app with celebrity coaches who will encourage you to keep going. If you can’t face the thought of exercise at the moment, then go for a walk, or a bike ride, or spend half an hour doing some weeding. Indoors, maybe a try an activity-based console game, or pop on a pair of headphones and create your own silent disco. Even moderate amounts of activity can have a major impact on your emotional health.

What you eat and drink can have an impact on your mood. 

Mood foods

The Power of Sleep

Sleep and mental health have a strong connection. Poor mental health will have a negative impact on the amount and quality of sleep you experience. Sleep deprivation can have a major impact on your mental health. The two are connected and improving one of these elements will affect your experience of the other.

Power of Sleep Infographic (1)

Ask For Help

There are reasons why people may not want to ask for help. Some people feel mental illness is a weakness, or something they should ‘snap out of’, or ‘shrug off’. For others, mental or emotional concerns may be viewed as a sign of weakness. Fear of being ‘stuck on medication’ or even for some the fear of being ‘locked away’ can stop people from seeking help.

We are so used to flipping to technology for simple answers to our problems – self diagnosing, or trying to connect through social media – that we don’t stop to look at the complex reasons behind how we are feeling. Realising you need some support and asking for help is not a failing. Reaching out to others can start you on the road to looking at the underlying issues for poor mental health. Talking to someone can be your first step to better mental health. Plus, the more we talk about our concerns the better we will become, as a society, at addressing mental health issues.

Deal with one thing at a time
Write a list of things that are causing you concern
Don't focus on what you can't do

For more information

For more information and advice click the link below to go to the NHS Every Mind Matters website.

Step One