Taking care of your mental health is important, but it doesn’t necessarily require a whole lot of your time, energy or money.
Here are 10 techniques and behaviours that can easily be introduced to your daily life and will help you keep things in check.
1. Validate your small successes.
Significant achievements can make us feel like a million bucks, but Elizabeth Neal, psychologist at Elizabeth Neal Psychology says our smaller daily successes are nothing to be sniffed at. Appreciating and making note of the times you achieve those tasks you set for yourself will reminds you that actually, you’re doing OK.
“It might just be if you are trying to cut out sugar. It’s like, ‘OK, I didn’t put sugar in my coffee this morning, so that was a little success’,” she explains.
“Or, if you’re trying not to get triggered by your housemate leaving their towel on the floor, [think] ‘I was able to just breathe and I managed that.'”
2. Devote some time to your ‘mastery’ projects.
Neal also recommends finding time each day to work towards those goals that give us a rush of “self-mastery” — whether it be study, or a work project that will lead to progression — because they make us feel good about ourselves.
“One of the ways we get dopamine, the reward chemical in the brain, is through self mastery. If we constantly build on those things where we feel we’re progressing, that’s going to change our brain chemistry,” she explains.
Watch: Five signs you might benefit from seeing a psychologist. (Post continues after video.)
3. Delight in your desires.
Self-compassion goes a long way. Joanne Wilson, a counsellor and psychotherapist at The Confidante Counselling, says we should be taking time to do those things we truly enjoy, and then being responsible for making sure they happen.
“Make a list of 20 things that delight you and carve out time to do two things in the next week. This could be the simplest joy such as 30 minutes to yourself with a cuppa or a regular indulgence you never thought you deserved,” she suggests.
“Take the pressure away from your spouse, family or friends to make you happy. Entertain the ideas of your list of ‘I want…’ instead of why you ‘can’t’ or ‘don’t have time’ or it won’t work.”
Take time to indulge. (Image: iStock)
4. Make time to see people who matter to you.
Your loved ones do more for your mental health than you might realise.
"When we feel validated by our peers — like if you tell a friend, 'I was stressed today because this happens' and your friend says, 'Yes, that would have been stressful' — the strength of the stress is reduced," Neal says.
They're also a source of oxytocin, the 'love hormone' that promotes feelings of connectedness and belonging, so it's important to find time to spend with them a few times a week.
"In a relationship, we sometimes forget the physical affection is really important. Even non-sexual touch, like having a cuddle, will boost our oxytocin and allow us to feel good," Neal explains.