Most of us have found this year challenging in many ways, and our mental and physical wellbeing has been under the spotlight like never before.

Do not underestimate the cognitive and emotional load that this pandemic brings, or the impact it can have on your productivity, difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction is to be expected.

So go easy on yourself.

Look after the simple things that you can achieve easily, and you will feel much better for doing this.

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps you can take to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Trying these things could help you feel more positive and able to get the most out of life.

1. Connect with other people

  • Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. They help you build a sense of belonging and self-worth
    and give you an opportunity to share positive experiences,
    provide emotional support and allow you to support others
  • If possible, take time each day to be with your family, for example, try arranging a fixed time to eat dinner together, try switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your children, friends or family.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family.
  • But don’t rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships. It’s easy to get into the habit of only ever texting, messaging or emailing people

2. Be physically active

  • Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by raising your self-esteem and helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them.
  • It causes chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
  • Try finding free activities to help you get fit if finances are difficult at the moment
  • If you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about getting active with a disability
    Walk, run, cycle or dance every day.
  • It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life.
  • If you need more motivation, look into your local gym or leisure centre for classes, these are often a great place to start.

3. Learn new skills

  • Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem.
  • Helping you to build a sense of purpose and helping you to connect with others.
    Even if you feel like you do not have enough time, or you may not need to learn new things, there are lots of different ways to bring learning into your life.
  • Try learning to cook something new. We have some excellent recipes on our website, from local chef James Caryn.
  • Try taking on a new responsibility at work, such as mentoring a junior staff member or improving your presentation skills.
  • Work on a DIY project, such as fixing a broken bike, garden gate or something bigger. There are lots of free video tutorials online
    consider signing up for a course at a local college.
  • You could try learning a new language or a practical skill such as plumbing
  • Try new hobbies that challenge you, such as writing a blog, taking up a new sport or learning to paint
  • Don’t feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you. It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life

4. Give to others

  • Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings, a feeling of purpose and a sense of reward.
    This helps you connect with other people.
  • It could be small acts of kindness towards other people or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
  • Saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you
  • Asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listening to their answer
  • Spending time with friends or relatives who need support or company.
  • Offering to help someone you know with DIY or a work project

5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

  • Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
  • Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better.
  • It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Other useful tips to stay well, include a well-balanced diet, and good sleep practices.

Below are many useful links related to this article, that can help you stay healthy, feel good and feel connected.