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How to improve your mental wellbeing

Explains what mental wellbeing means, and gives tips to help you take care of your mental wellbeing.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting all our lives, and we know that our usual advice may not currently apply. Some ways of looking after yourself or getting support might not be possible or feel realistic during the pandemic.

We hope that you can still find information here that helps. You can visit our coronavirus information hub to find lots of information on coping during the pandemic.

What is mental wellbeing?

Mental wellbeing doesn't have one set meaning. We might use it to talk about how we feel, how well we're coping with daily life or what feels possible at the moment.

Good mental wellbeing doesn't mean you're always happy or unaffected by your experiences. But poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life.

“I had to make room to be well. Sounds daft but give yourself some space  in my case I used mindfulness to help me gain control.”

Tips for improving your mental wellbeing

There are lots of things we can try to take care of our wellbeing. We have tips to help you:

It's not always easy to start with caring for your wellbeing. You might find it helpful to:

  • only try what feels comfortable
  • give yourself time to figure out what works for you, going at your own pace
  • take small steps. Pick one or two things that feel achievable at first, before moving on to try other ideas.

If you're finding things difficult and these tips don't feel possible, it's ok to ask for help.

See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for guidance on finding support and treatment for your mental health.

male talking into a microphone

Writing my way through anxiety and depression

“It was like having a conversation with myself; working my way through whatever problems were bothering me at the time.”

Relax and reduce stress

Find ways to relax

If there's something that helps you relax, try to find time to fit it into your day. For example, this could be having a bath or going for a walk. If you find it difficult to switch off, you could try some of the tips and exercises in our relaxation pages.

Take a break if you need to

If you're feeling overwhelmed by a stressful situation, try to take a break. A change of scene can help you to relax and relieve feelings of anxiety, even just for a few minutes.

Do something you enjoy

Try to make time to do an activity you like on a regular basis. This could be something small, like cooking a meal, ringing a friend or listening to music.

Try to manage stress

If you're under a lot of pressure, you may start to feel overwhelmed or out of control. Stress can also cause physical side effects.

See our pages on stress for tips on dealing with pressure and coping with stressful events.

Try mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing exercises and yoga. It's been shown to help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings. This means that instead of being overwhelmed by your feelings, it becomes easier to manage them.

See our pages on mindfulness for more information, including some exercises you could try.

Give yourself some tech-free time

If you find that being on your phone or computer a lot is making you feel more busy and stressed, try to take a break. This could be for just an hour or two. If you find this difficult, try putting your phone in another room or setting an alarm to time yourself.

Eight relaxation tips for your mental health

Watch our animation for eight relaxation tips to help you look after your mental wellbeing.

Find ways to learn and be creative

Try doing something creative

Doing something creative can help distract you from difficult thoughts or feelings, or help you to process them. It can also be rewarding.

You could try doing something like drawing, playing a musical instrument or baking. Try not to worry about the finished product. Just focus on enjoying yourself.

Join a class or group

Learning a new skill in a group can be enjoyable, and help boost your confidence. To find out what's on in your area, contact your local Mind, search the National Alliance of Arts in Health and Wellbeing directory, or ask at your local library or community centre.

Try online learning

Online learning is a good option if it's difficult to get out and about or you're short on time. 

See the FutureLearn and OpenLearn websites to find free online courses.

Craft with Mind

Mind can help you organise a Crafternoon. We also have lots of crafty templates you can try.

“I find that any sort of craft activity really focuses my mind and stops me concentrating on negative thoughts. It can also be quite rewarding to actually produce something, although can have the opposite effect if things don't work out quite as intended.”

Spend time in nature

Try to spend some time outdoors

Spending time in nature outdoors can help improve your mood and reduce feelings of stress and anger. Our information on nature and mental health has more about the benefits and lots of ideas you could try.

Bring nature indoors

This can give you the benefits of nature without having to go to a park or public garden. You could buy flowers, potted plants or seeds for growing on your window sill. Or you could collect natural materials from outdoors, such as leaves, flowers, feathers, and use them to decorate your living space.

Spend time with animals

Lots of people find that being with animals is calming and enjoyable. You could try pet-sitting or dog walking, feed birds from your window, or visit a local community farm.

Try a mindfulness exercise in nature

Pay attention to your surroundings and find things to see, hear, taste, smell and touch. See our information on taking a mindful moment in nature for ideas you could try.

female kneeling on the floor in garden holding a plant

The seeds of hope

“Plants and the garden won't judge me. This is where I can rebuild my confidence and become me again.”

Connect with others

Connecting with others can help us have a greater sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Talk to someone you trust

Opening up to a trusted friend or family member can help you feel listened to and supported. Sometimes, just acknowledging your feelings by saying them out loud can also help.

Try peer support

If you're finding things hard, talking to people who have similar feelings or experiences can help. This could be face-to-face at a peer support group, or through an online community like Mind’s Side by Side. See our pages on peer support to find out more.

Volunteer

Using your time to help others can give you a sense of purpose, help you meet people and boost your self-esteem. See the Do It website for volunteering opportunities.

Peer support transformed my life

“I developed as a person and became so much more confident because I felt like I had a purpose.”

Look after your physical health

Drink water regularly

Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. The NHS has more information about water, drinks and your health.

Think about your diet

There is lots of advice out there about there about how eating or avoiding certain foods can affect your mental health. Not all of this is supported by strong evidence. But we do know that eating regular meals and a healthy, balanced diet can help your mood and energy levels. The NHS has helpful information on how to maintain a balanced diet.

If you have a difficult relationship with food and eating, our pages on eating problems have information and tips which may help.

Look after yourself

Basic self-care, like brushing your teeth or having a shower, is important for your physical health and can help you feel better. If you're struggling, try to set yourself small goals, like getting up and washing your face.

Try to avoid drugs and alcohol

You might feel like using drugs or alcohol to cope with any difficult feelings. But in the long run they can make you feel worse. See our pages on recreational drugs and alcohol to find out more.

Try to keep active

Try to build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. It doesn't have to be anything big, like running a marathon. If you aren't used to being active, start off small and try to find something you enjoy.

Our pages on physical activity and your mental health have ideas for most ages and abilities, including things you can do at home. The NHS also has a page of sitting exercises that you could try.

“I aim to go for a walk at lunchtime during the working week. It gives me time to clear my head from the morning which helps prepare me for the afternoon stint. It also reminds me that I need to look after myself.”

Try to get enough sleep

Establish a routine

Try and establish a routine around bed time, to help set a regular sleeping pattern.

Avoid screens

Give yourself some tech-free time before sleep, and avoid bright screens that can affect your sleep.

Try to wind down before bed

Do a relaxing activity, like having a bath, or try a relaxation exercise before you go to sleep. It may also help to avoid having caffeine before your bed time, as this can keep you awake.

Try to make your sleeping environment comfortable

A comfortable sleeping environment can help improve your sleep. Small changes can help. For example, you might sleep better with a low light on, or with different bedding.

If you're staying in hospital, having your own items can help make things feel more comfortable and personal. For example, you could ask to use your own pillow or blanket.

If you're living in a hostel or supported accommodation, the Groundswell website has some ideas for improving your sleep.

See our pages on sleep problems for more information, including more tips to improve your sleep.

“I read if I can't sleep. As well as drinking herbal tea, it helps me relax and fall asleep faster. If this doesn't help, I focus on my breathing and try and empty my brain.”

This information was published in July 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

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