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How can you improve your mental health?

Whilst getting good sleep, eating well, and exercising are some of the best ways for us to improve our mental health, there are other lifestyle elements that help us to improve our mental health, such as taking up a new hobby and building a strong social network around us. 


This article runs through some of the science-based foundations of good mental health. By making sure we have a healthy dose of each we can soon feel the positive effects. By making some small changes to our lives, accumulatively, big differences can be felt.

If you feel that you are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or any other mental illness and would like to talk to a non-judgemental professional, I am currently offering a free counselling consultation.

How Sleep Affects Mental Health

When we have disturbed or little sleep we often wake to find the world is a darker place than usual and our day is off to a bad start from the outset. We may lie awake churning things over in our head or we may be worrying about the next day.


Poor sleep often increases the chances of feeling anxious, depressed or suicidal. 

By finding ways to manage these intrusive thoughts we can finally try and get the sleep we need.

Have a notepad and pen by the bed - it is sometimes useful to take those tasks for tomorrow or thoughts from today out of our head and put them somewhere else. By writing things down that are bothering us we haven’t got rid of them but moved them to a safe place for a time when we are able to deal with them.

How Hobbies Can Improve Mental Health

When we do something we really enjoy, our minds are focussed on something other than what is going around in our head. By spending time doing what we enjoy, hobbies, interests etc., we can feel distracted from the gloom, mentally lifted and find some relief from the darkness we find ourselves in.

Kate Alliss Counselling_edited.jpg

Kate Alliss BACP,

Qualified Counsellor based in Stourbridge.


Level 2 Counselling Skills
Level 3 Diploma Counselling Skills 
Level 4 Diploma Therapeutic Counselling

OU Online Counselling

CPCAB Level 2 Substance Misuse

Registered member of BACP

How Diet Affects Mental Health

When we eat rubbish, we tend to feel rubbish. When we are feeling low, anxious or depressed we might sometimes comfort eat or turn to fast or convenience food for ease and because well, we simply just can’t be bothered to do anything else. 


If this becomes a regular thing our mental health can decline and turning to junk food exacerbates the negative thoughts we might already be having. 


Eating more healthily improves that negative mindset and helps us feel better about ourselves.

How Exercise Affects Mental Health

It is well documented that exercise releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel better. When we are already feeling low, the thought of going to the gym or whatever your exercise of choice is, is often the last thing on our mind and we might feel as though ‘I just can’t be bothered’. 


When we are in this place something as simple as going for a walk around the block or in the park can do wonders to improve how we are feeling. If you’re looking for groups of people to go on walk or runs with, taking part in a local rambling group or local running club might be useful.

How Maintaining Emotional Connections Improves Mental Health

We might lean on our nearest and dearest whether they be our partners, family members or close friends when we are feeling down. It might also be the case that when we are feeling low we retreat within ourselves and shut ourselves off for any number of reasons. 


Maybe we don’t want to burden someone else or we think they’ve heard it all so many times or maybe we feel ashamed or embarrassed. It can be helpful to reach out to someone we feel we can trust in our darkest times and if we don’t have any of these people in our lives we can feel extremely lonely and alone. 


There are always people we can talk to whatever our situation. Organisations such as The Samaritans or local mental health support groups, such as Black Country Mental Health can be useful to contact.

How Limiting Substances Can Improve Mental Health

We might sometimes turn to substances as a coping mechanism when we are feeling low, down, depressed or anxious. Whilst this might give us the temporary lift or escape we are craving, the come down from the use of substances only helps to drive us deeper into our own darkness. If substances are your method of self-medicating then there is support you can turn to to help you break the cycle.

How Mindfulness Improves Mental Health

Mindfulness is a method of relaxation, clearing the mind of intrusive thoughts and allowing ourselves to just ‘be’. When we have busy lives it is often difficult to find the time to reconnect with ourselves.

Small changes can make a big difference to how we are feeling mentally and physically. By making improvements in one or two of the above areas to begin with we are opening ourselves up to feeling better overall.    

Where to look for mental health support

Anyone having suicidal or thoughts of harm should contact their GP for support or contact The Samaritans on 0330 094 5717 for someone to talk to. 

If you feel that you are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression or any other mental illness and would like to talk to a non-judgemental professional, I am currently offering a free counselling consultation.

Check out my latest blog on what to expect in the first counselling session, or head over to my mental health resources page, which has a list of professional resources and helplines for a range of mental health issues.

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