My guide to keeping up your mental health (Toby)

Keeping up our mental health is a task the majority of us struggle with at some point in our lives.  I have significantly struggled with it twice in my life, but have come through it.

At the moment dealing with our mental health is a bit more difficult since there’s a deadly virus, lockdown, and the end of the education year all in one lovely package thrown into the mix.

So I am going to try and act like a guiding light in these uncertain times and try and keep you in tip-top fan-dabby-dosy shape.

My first piece of advice is to keep a routine. Now to be honest, I am still struggling with this a bit because of lockdown and time losing all meaning.

Keeping a routine is so important when it comes to your mental health. You want to first wake-up and go to sleep at the same time every day. Aim to just achieve that at first. Then start having a morning routine. A morning routine is so beneficial because it structures your day and gives you a reason to get out of bed instead of laying there for hours.

Your morning routine can be anything you want; you do not have to turn into a health guru and suddenly start eating porridge for breakfast everyday, then go for a run and finish off with some yoga.

Trying to be something you are not will be more detrimental to your mental health than beneficial. It could be eating a full English and watching Friends. It could be having a brew and reading a book. It could be going for a walk and then having a shower.

Now I do want you to be yourself, but I believe that once you have mastered these initial steps, there are things that I think you should do every morning to further improve your mental health. The first one is exercise.

I would like to repeat: you do not need to become a health guru. Exercise can be anything you want it to be. Do what you are comfortable with. Do not overwork yourself. If you need to stop, stop. If you need to catch your breath, catch it.

One of the reasons I hate the modern view of exercise is because it is heavily associated with the aesthetic physical benefits. Kill that view. Exercise is not about how many calories you have burned, or how much you can lift, or how long you can run for. Exercise is about celebrating what we can do and the benefits that exercise can provide, especially for our mental health, is so much more than just about looking “good”.

So do what you can. Go for a walk! Do a home workout! Do some cleaning! Reap the benefits. I also recommend doing it the morning because you can build into your morning routine, and it sets you up for a good start to the day. Making it part of your morning routine also means you are more likely to do it. I also believe you should do some exercise outside, or just get outside in general, because sunlight and fresh air gives us the precious vitamin D we need, which helps us sleep better at night, and has also been found to help fight depression.

I also believe after you exercise you should shower, every morning. Then get dressed for the day. Firstly, it helps create your morning routine and showering can help us feel good because we feel clean, we feel fresh, and ready for the day. Getting dressed also gives us something to do, helps create a routine and again makes us feel good because we’re not wearing the same thing all the time; we are not wearing what we go to sleep in, and we can feel better if we look better.

So get out there and fight to keep your mental health in tip-top fan-dabby-dosy shape. Lockdown will end eventually and life will go back to normal. Until then, good luck and take care of yourselves.

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