Our mental health is far from a fixed entity- we all have our ups and downs. Our moods can change from season to season, month to month or even day to day- our cognitive process, hormones, external stresses and even the weather can all play a part. If you’re struggling with your mental health and nothing is seeming to help it’s important to seek medical advice- however if you’re just a little up and down, here are a few proactive things that could really help.
Take up a new hobby
Hobbies are incredibly valuable and are something that people of all ages should have. Most of us have lots of interests when we’re young, but once we start working full time we fall into the ‘work, eat, sleep, repeat’ cycle. Hobbies can really break this up, they teach you new skills and keep you productive on your days off. Without anything to do, it’s so easy to spend any free time you have binge watching Netflix and generally wasting your time. Hobbies introduce you to people who are interested in the same things as you, meeting new people can be difficult as you get older so something like this allows you to get more social. Have a think about what you like to do, or hobbies you enjoyed in the past that you could pick back up again. It could be anything from a craft to a sport, but if it keeps you busy, helps you to learn new things and it’s something you enjoy, it’s so worth spending time on it.
Go back to school
As humans we’re curious creatures, and we’re often at our happiest when we’re learning new things. But once we finish formal education, many of us stop pursuing our curiosities and never return to education. However, going back to school later in life could be one of the best things you’ve ever done. Unlike when you’re a child, when you study as an adult you do so because you want to- not because you have to. This means you can get more out of it, and can actually gain enjoyment from the process of learning new things. You don’t even need to go back to a physical college or university, schools like Baylor University are all online these days and you can study part time in a flexible way.
Consider changing careers
As well as being great for your mental health, going back to school could also give you the opportunity to change careers. We spend so much of our time working, that if you’re unhappy here you’re never going to get true fulfilment out of life. For just about all of us, work is a means to an end. If you won the lottery tomorrow, chances are you wouldnt continue at your job even if you don’t mind it. But with this being said, you should despise your job or actively hate being there. We all need to find something interesting or rewarding about what we do, and if you don’t then it’s so worth changing careers. Along with studying, you could take on some voluntary work in the new area you want to work in to gain experience. It could easily end up being one of the best things you’ve ever done for your mental health.
Evaluate your friendships and relationship
The people we have in our lives should be a true support system. To cheer when we’re happy, to build us back up when we’re sad and be a shoulder to cry on. If you’re noticing toxic traits in some of the people in your life then it’s time to take a serious look on who you’re allowing to get close to you. Unfortunately, these people can come in the form of our closest family and friends, even our partner. They might belittle, abuse or manipulate- and they might be so good at these things that you don’t initially realise what’s going on. Have a hard think, is someone close to you giving you bad vibes? Are they draining you mentally, and do they make you feel rubbish? There’s no shame in cutting people off that are no longer good for you, in some cases it really is the healthiest thing to do. Be picky with the people you allow in your inner circle.
Travel is never a waste of time or money. It opens your eyes to new experiences, it’s fun and you get to make memories that last a lifetime. If you’re in a bit of a rut, booking a holiday can give you something to look forward to and the time spent away means you get a break from daily life, can relax and enjoy yourself. Whether it’s a two week luxury holiday to the Maldives, a month trekking in Asia or a mini break to somewhere that’s a short plane ride away, it can give you the boost you need when your mental health is feeling a little low.
Finally, volunteering your time and giving back to the world can be hugely rewarding and a massive mental health booster. During times that we feel low, it’s so easy to have a ‘woe is me’ attitude. Giving back to those less fortunate not only helps you to understand how good you really have it, but it also genuinely helps others that are in need. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, a women’s shelter or a children’s hospital. You could help out at a hospice or nursing home, or an animal shelter. See what charitable causes are local to you, and spend time helping in any way you can. Even if it’s just a couple of hours a month.
What kinds of things do you do when you’re experiencing a mental health slump? Have you tried any of the above?