Mental health

15 ways to look after your mental health

An inspirational photograph of a woman standing on a beach at sunset and looking out to the sea _ 15 steps for looking after my mental health - Mrs H's favourite things

I’ve been quite open recently that my mental health hasn’t been brilliant. It certainly isn’t terrible but I haven’t been myself. I’ve been feeling anxious and unmotivated. There have been days when I have felt tearful, unable to control my mood and I have just wanted to clamber back into bed and sleep.

There are many small reasons why my depression has relapsed.

  • The stress and sadness of the recurrent miscarriages and the anxiety I felt in my last pregnancy has caught up with me.
  • Adjusting to our new life and my new role as a Mum to two children. It is everything I always wanted but it is hard and there are days when I question every decision and action I take in my parenting journey.
  • My body relaxing after six pregnancies in four years.

But I am ashamed to admit that there is only one person who is really to blame for my poor mental health. And that person is ME!

And the reason why I am to blame is simple. I do not look after myself.

I have always made excuses for why this is the case.

“I am too tired.”

“There isn’t the time.”

“I need to stay awake until 03:00 to blog/ read/ bake/ colour/ tidy.”

“I’ve eaten chocolate already today, so two more bars won’t make a difference.”

My list of excuses is endless.

But the recent blip in my mental health has finally made me realise that I need to look after myself. It is essential that I start to protect my health, both physically and mentally. For my sake and my families.

I’m sorry to sound like a broken record. As I know I have said all these things before. And I have tried to make changes in the past but I often fail.

I recently decided that I needed to set myself some rules. Rules for looking after myself. But also simple ways to look after my mental health.

I wanted to set realistic targets. Small changes that I can make in my everyday life to put my mental health first.

Fifteen steps to being emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and happy.

I have dedicated a double spread in my bullet journal to these rules. As I always find that I am more inclined to stick to something if it is written down.

I wanted to share these guidelines for looking after my mental health on my blog too. Not just because it will be embarrassing if I then spectacularly fail. But also because I hope that they will help anyone else who suffers from mental health problems and needs to look after themselves.

15 ways to look after your mental health

Exercise

1. Exercise at least four times a week.

Sleep

2. Go to bed by 23:00 on six nights of the week.

3. On the other night be in bed by 01:00 at the very latest.

Diet

4. Only eat cake, biscuits, chocolate or crisps twice during the week.

5. Eat three balanced meals a day.

6. Drink at least four large glasses of water daily.

7. Only drink alcohol on two occasions during the week.

8. Make sure that any tea drunk after 19:00 is decaffeinated.

Activity

9. Read at least one book every month.

10. Every day get up and make the bed, then have a shower, get dressed, tidy hair and put on some make-up.

11. Get at least 30 minutes of fresh air daily.

12. Each day write a list of six tasks to complete. Make sure that one of these involves some form of self-care.

Digital

13. Spend at least two hours per day (an hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon) without using my phone or iPad and with the television off

14. Don’t ever download silly phone games – a complete waste of time and energy.

15. Have a device free night once a week.

I began following these rules at the beginning of April. And I’m tracking my progress in my bullet journal. I plan to see how I go over the next month or so. Then I will make any changes needed.

It is harder than I expected. After years of going to bed late, eating too much sugar, being disorganised and not exercising, even these small changes are tough to make. But I am determined to put my health and particularly my mental health first. So I am going to try my hardest to follow these 15 rules.

Having said this, I have been (mostly) sticking to the earlier bed times and my diet has been better. I even managed to exercise. And as a result I do feel better.

I am able to control my anxiety. I am less exhausted. And I find it easier to motivate myself.

This is really encouraging. It shows that this 15 step programme will work.

And hopefully by taking care of myself physically I will be safeguarding my mental health.

Hugs

Lucy

xxxx

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I don't look after myself and as a result my mental health suffers. Recently my depression and anxiety have become bad. As a result, I decided to be proactive. And to put in place some rules for looking after myself. So here is my action plan and also 15 ways that you can also look after your mental health.

 

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If you would like to know how I am getting on then make sure you head over and like my Facebook page. It would be lovely to see you there. And you can have a greater nosy about what I get up to most days. 

 

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Rawmum
    May 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. I’m guilty of so many of these things too… and what makes it worse is that I’m always taking care of everyone else. I guess I didn’t realise that I had to do it for myself because no one else will. I’m still waiting for our rainbow baby after the recent loss of our first pregnancy. Must get more sleep… its my main problem and lots of things would be resolved if I slept better.

  • Reply
    Patricia
    April 24, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Ah, thank you for sharing. This is wonderful and I’m so pleased it’s working for you. It sounds just what I should to be doing. I too, am guilty of not looking after myself. I really need to make an effort. Maybe your rules could help me too. x x

  • Reply
    Renee @ Mummy Tries
    April 24, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Great advice Lucy, really pleased to hear that they’re working for you xx

  • Reply
    Jo - Pickle & Poppet
    April 18, 2017 at 6:55 am

    These are great steps and it’s nice to see a list of steps that are achievable. I know have in the past made lists that were never going to happen and then you feel worse! I need to take some of your advice and start looking after myself more. I get so caught up in feeding the children and running a home that I forget about me! Maybe you’ve given me the kick up the bum I needed!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    April 16, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    You are such a wonderful person Lucy!
    These steps are a brilliant template to follow, just don’t feel bad if you don’t follow them all the time! It’s not easy to make changes, even when we know how good for us it will be….trust me I’d be at least two dress sizes smaller and a lot less stressed constantly haha!! Xxx

  • Reply
    Lucy Melissa Smith
    April 14, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    These are fabulous and I hope they’re helping you lovely. You know where I am if you ever need to chat 🙂
    I’ve been feeling a lot better recently and I’ve done some of these things without realising, I don’t know how it’s happened and I don’t want to jinx it but I seem to be coping again!
    These tips are right on the money and I’m going to try and tick off some of the ones I haven’t been doing (mostly the diet and exercise ones!) without trying to take on too much (I can’t do too much all in one go, that seems to be my downfall, I need to build them up one by one!)
    X X

  • Reply
    Amy@ The Smallest Of Things
    April 14, 2017 at 6:27 am

    Self care is so so important! I struggled massively after S and it’s only since I found time for myself that I was able to get better. I still struggle sometimes now with two but I do where I can 🙂 some excellent tips and I have recently decided to be in bed by 10:30pm to be asleep by 11pm during the week 🙂 be kind to yourself lovely lady ox
    Amy@ The Smallest Of Things recently posted…Paper Plate Chicks & Bunnies | Easy Easter CraftsMy Profile

  • Reply
    kay
    April 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    I can totally relate, I say those things to myself ALL THE TIME. Do you have the calm app lovely? I’ve found it amazing when my anxiety is high and I’m unmotivated. xxx

  • Reply
    Al
    April 12, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    As a husband of a wife that suffers from severe anxiety I can say I know only too well how important taking good care of yourself is. A great list. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Reply
    Zona
    April 12, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Lucy, this is a really great list. My anxiety is for different reasons but I can totally relate to needing to stay mentally healthy. I am happy to say I do most of these on your list already. The one I struggle with is the exercise. I always start but just can’t seem to stick with it. I’m chasing a new puppy around though so I’m just going to count that as my exercise 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa ( mummascribbles)
    April 12, 2017 at 9:48 am

    This is a great list Lucy. There are a few things on there that I could definitely do with doing on a daily basis. I don’t think we as parents look after ourselves enough. Glad the changes are already having an impact : )

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    April 12, 2017 at 7:20 am

    So many great tips, I hope they help.

    I find that I start eating rubbish when my mood goods down.

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