Positive mental health

Positive mental health is an important part of your lifelong education journey. We are all somewhere along the mental health spectrum. This means sometimes we are on top of the world and feel really positive and at other times we feel isolated, have problems coping and have crises. It is normal to have good days and bad days and also moments in life where we feel stressed and unable to cope.

Stress is not always a bad thing because it often gives us focus and determination to get a job done. What is important is to recognise when your mental health is causing problems to normal functioning, interacting or affecting your day-to-day life. You also need to know when to ask for help. There is always someone to listen to you when you need a listening ear, advice or when you are having difficulty coping.

5 a Day for Mental Health

To develop emotional wellness, you need to try to have balance in your life between professional or academic pursuits and personal time. It is important to recognise that life is challenging by its very nature and things will not always go our way.

It is also important to take on challenges and risks and recognise that mistakes are normal and necessary for personal growth. It is vital to accept change and transition as a natural part of life. Although, remember it can take time to adjust to change.

You do not need to be on the same timeline or path as others, so try not to compare yourself to peers too much.

Remember to show your emotions and not to bottle them up. Share your feelings with others and learn how to respond to your emotions.

The ‘5 a Day for Mental Health and wellbeing’ are 5 actions used worldwide by young and old to maintain positive mental health.

1. Connect

Connect with the people in your life – family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Keep in contact with people at home, work, school or in your local community. Make sure to find time to have conversations with the people in your life. When you feel like you have no time to meet them is when you most likely especially need to meet them. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.

2. Be active

Being active does not mean going to the gym, if that is not something you enjoy.

  • Go for a walk or run
  • Step outside
  • Cycle
  • Play a game
  • Garden
  • Dance

Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy, that gets your heart racing and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.

By moving your body and increasing your heart rate, you can stimulate the production of endorphins in the bloodstream. As soon as the heart starts pumping and sweat glands start perspiring, the rush of feel-good chemicals kicks in to reduce the brain’s perception of pain.

3. Take notice

Taking Notice means actively bringing your mind’s attention and interest to the world around you. In this way, you use all of your senses to notice the sights, the sounds and the smells. Taking notice means being present in the moment; observing what’s beautiful or unusual in the world.

4. Give

Giving doesn’t have to mean spending money or giving your money to charities. Giving can also mean sharing your time with others. Whether it is volunteering or supporting people to achieve their goals, the act of giving has a dual benefit. The person or people that you are giving to feel good, as well as you. Scientists have proven that giving to others can stimulate the reward areas in the brain helping to create positive feelings. Helping others also gives a sense of purpose and feelings of self-worth.

Giving can be simple to achieve:

  • Nod to a passer-by as a way of saying ‘hello’
  • Offer to make someone a cup of tea or coffee
  • Help someone out in work if they need your support.

If you have free time, you could contact a local charity and volunteer that time to a good cause. See some volunteering opportunities near you.

5. Keep learning

We are not just saying this because it is an educational website. Science shows that if we keep our brains functioning through educational activities, we are happier people. Learning, in fact, does not have to be doing a degree. Learning means different things to everyone. To some it will be a new qualification and to others it will be learning a new recipe in the kitchen.