1. Get out into the light
Get out in the sun to soak up some vitamin D which helps regulate the stress hormone. Only 10 per cent of our vitamin D comes from our diet, the rest comes from daylight, says Dr Sarah O’Neill, counselling psychologist and clinical lead on laya healthcare 24/7 Mental Wellbeing and Support Programme.
2. Tidy up your sleep habit
Sleep is immensely important to our brain function and indeed every other aspect of our health. Dr O’Neill recommends getting into a good, regular sleep habit by going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day.
3. Turn off that phone
There is a potential link between smartphone use and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). So, give the phone a rest, especially at bedtime.
4. It’s good to talk
Reach out to a friend, a colleague or a family member, to talk about your mental wellbeing issues. If you don’t feel able to talk about it to someone you know, seek professional help.
5. Exercise the brain muscle
Learning a new language can improve our brain health. The Duolingo phone app promises to teach a language in just 15 minutes a day.
6. Stay hydrated
Good hydration is crucial for brain health. Even mild dehydration can influence mood and the ability to think clearly. Keep drinking water.
7. A healthy body is a healthy mind
People who exercise regularly, even going for a walk a few times a week, report significantly fewer mental wellbeing issues.
8. Join a club or a team
Make the most of your exercise by joining a club or team. “The social side of team or group activities can be very important for our mental wellbeing,” says Dr O’Neill.
9. Make time for friends and family
Good relationships are important for your wellbeing. So, make a resolution to reconnect with family and friends – it’s good for all involved.
10. Time to be mindful
Mindfulness meditation is not just another fad, it has proven mental wellbeing benefits. “It allows a bit of space from those other things, to deal with the here and now. Sometimes it’s great just to check in with yourself,” says Dr O’Neill. Laya healthcare members can discuss this using the laya healthcare 24/7 Mental Wellbeing and Support Programme.
11. Take a staycation
Book yourself a short break in Ireland and relish not having to get up at 4am to get to an airport, through security and queuing to board.
12. Cut back on the caffeine
Ease back on the java. “Caffeine has an effect on melatonin [the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle],” says Dr O’Neill. “You should be careful with your intake and have your last coffee a minimum of six hours before bedtime.”
13. It is better to give than to receive
Volunteering with local charities or other organisations not only benefits society but your own mental wellbeing too. It really can be better to give than receive.
14. Get creative
Joining a creative writing group can unlock hidden talents and lift our spirits. Improved self-awareness and empathy are just a few of the proven benefits.
15. You are what you eat
What we eat affects our mood and vice versa. “Variety and moderation have been shown to be beneficial in accelerating the recovery process from depression,” says Dr O’Neill.
Laya healthcare gives all its members (aged 16+) access to , face to face, by phone or online, depending on your level of cover and the advice that you need. Our team of experts can help you work through mental well being issues, financial and legal concerns, even work-related stress; whatever life throws at you, in a way that suits you ... because it’s good to live.
This article was written in collaboration with Independent News and Media.
Insurance is provided by Elips Insurance Limited trading as Laya Healthcare. Laya Healthcare Limited, trading as Laya Healthcare and Laya Life, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.