Top Tips for Improving Your Mental Health in 2022

Mental health is very important, and there is a growing interest in how to improve it. Farhanah Iqbal, our Senior Diversity & Inclusion Consultant, investigates how to maintain and improve mental health in 2022.

Continue reading to find out more.

As we settle into the new year, we are met with reflections on what has impacted the past as well as looking to the future. Mental health self-care is as important as ever, and at Inclusive Employers we know it is essential to be aware of all the things that impact our wellbeing, so we are able to truly show up as our whole selves. Here we take a look at all the ways our mental health is affected and top mental health tips that can support you through challenging times.

The importance of mental health

Having a healthy sense of self is inextricably tied with understanding our mental health. Mental health is your state of wellbeing, it is the space that you navigate to maintain the balance of your everyday life.

Our mental health is made up of our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, and so it’s key to our overall ability to function that we are able to recognise what keeps us well. We know that different people’s life experiences and identities will take a different toll on their mental health, and it is crucial to give ourselves the time to reflect, recognise and respond.

Understanding indicators of bad mental health

When our mental health is suffering, it can often feel like seeing the world in black and white while everyone else sees it in colour.

One or a combination of these factors can significantly impact your ability to have hope. A helpful way of recognising indicators of poor mental health for what they are is using curiosity instead; think about poor mental health as a lens filtering out your capacity to see the good right now, so find curiosity in the future, curiosity in what your mental ill health is hiding from you.

By recognising this filter, you come away from the belief that there’s only black and white and it opens you up to the awareness that there is, or there is potential to be, colour.

Some of the indictors of this may include:

  • Lack of motivation

We can feel distracted or unable to find motivation in our day-to-day activities, our work, our studies or even leisure.

  • Low mood

We can have bouts of low mood, inconsistent and fluctuating emotions where we feel sad, upset or disheartened.

  • Being overwhelmed

What’s happening in our day-to-day, tasks that we have or events that are occurring may seem overwhelming and leave us feeling unable to manage.

  • Tiredness and a lack of energy

When we are struggling with our mental health, our energy is often one of the first things that is impacted. We can be left feeling lethargic and tired.

  • Irritability

Alongside the impact on our energy levels, bad mental health can negatively impact our temperament and people can be prone to irritability.

Ways to improve mental health

Our mental health and wellbeing are as unique as we are. The powerful thing about this is that nurturing and improving your mental health presents you with a choice that is dictated only by you.

There are several things that can support and improve your wellbeing, some may work better for you than others, or it may be that a combination of elements blend perfectly together for you.

Sometimes different options work best at different times. As we navigate through the various tips for mental health self-care, it’s important to remember that each of us reacts to events and absorbs circumstances in our own individual way. This means that the way we process our healing will be just as individual.

Allow this mental health advice to support you in seasons, these tips do not need to be hard and fast rules. They can be adapted and flow around you as you move through life, taking different forms wherever they are best placed in that moment. Go easy on yourself so that you can truly absorb the mental health benefits that work best for you.

Some ways to improve mental health can include:

Talk to others when you can

Finding people who are safe spaces for us and who we can connect with can work as a mechanism to channel our thoughts and feelings. This could be a GP or a mental health professional like a therapist, counsellor or support worker. It could also be a trusted friend, family worker or co-worker.

Connecting through talking comes in various forms. Sometimes being able to talk to someone who is removed from your personal life can help you separate and decompress, whereas for some people confiding in someone who knows you and can resonate easily with the things you’re talking about comes easier. A mixture of both can be a helpful outlet.

There are also many online mental health support systems as well as local support helplines. Being able to talk to someone can help to ease what’s tangled up inside your mind, it can be comforting and grounding. By talking to someone you take away the isolating burden of coping on your own.

Two people sat at a wooden table with their arms and hands holding coffee cups.

Try physical activities

Physical activity does wonders for our wellbeing, it can help reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, improve our self-esteem and help regulate sleep. But if it’s not something you’re used to doing, it can feel intimidating and overwhelming, and this is not something to be ashamed of.

You can check out our top tips for staying active to help you get started. Small and consistent steps that are most suited to you, will give you the most sustainable results. Movement that you could incorporate into your working day could include activity bursts where you take short breaks from your desk to do something like star jumps, a sprint on the spot, or seated movement of your choosing.

You could plan a daily stroll or a weekend hike, follow online instructors on anything from learning dance to martial arts. The key to improve your mental health through physical activity is to do what brings you joy. Move your body in a way that works for you.

What’s important to note is that not everybody can be physically active, equally sometimes when you’re struggling with your mental health, physical activity may feel like a greater burden. It’s important to be gentle with yourself and allow this to have it’s space, focus on other things for a while and do what works best for you.

Discover new hobbies

Changing your routine and incorporating a new hobby can help boost your levels of happiness and alleviate symptoms of poor mental health. By opening yourself up to new experiences you can discover new things that give you enjoyment, focus and even clarity.

When our mental health is suffering, we can often fall into bad routines and habits that are not good for our wellbeing. By seeking out new activities and interests, you disrupt the states that are contributing to you feeling further unwell. Try searching activities in your local adverts, community centres, search options online, join a social media group and connect to a whole community that way. And remember, a hobby is whatever is of interest to you. Follow what makes you happier.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is accessing our ability be fully present and at one with where we are and what’s going on around us. It’s the idea of allowing our thoughts, feelings and sensations to come and go without expectation to do anything with them. It’s restorative in that it is gentle acceptance of the moment, without looking for a goal beyond that.

Being in this state can help lower stress, reduce anxiety and depression, balance our emotions and improve our overall mental health. Mindful practice can take the form of meditation and breathing exercises. But it can also be translated through other forms of self-care.

These can include disconnecting from overuse of social media, communicating boundaries, taking mindful showers or baths, mindful eating and even mindful walking. If your mind is full and prone to wandering, that’s ok! Give yourself time consistently; dedicating 10-20 minutes a day can support you to rewire your way of processing. Be patient with yourself as you attempt to slow your mind down and bring it in line with the present.

How to recognise mental health problems in the workplace

When our mental health starts suffering in the workplace, it can affect us in many different ways. It can often impact temperament as well as productivity. It can exacerbate procrastination as we give into instant gratification or avoidance of negative feelings that may be associated with tasks, and you may feel disconnected to yourself or those around you. It can also impact your ability to cope and build resilience.

Learning the triggers that may be taking a toll on your wellbeing in the workplace will enable and empower you to not only give yourself space to take care of your needs but also to reach out for support.

Mental health discrimination at work

At Inclusive Employers we believe a truly inclusive environment is one which takes on board all parts that make up a person, this allows us to be our most authentic self. As such supporting people’s wellbeing in the workplace allows them to have the healthiest employee experience.

Without this, mental health discrimination will manifest in different ways and has a detrimental impact on each person. It’s important to take note that all people will be have their own unique challenges which should be addressed.

Some demographics such as minority groups will be impacted by disproportionate disparities; whilst others will need their lives and duties outside of the workplace to be taken into consideration, such as those impacting carers, to ensure they are visible and valuable in the workplace.

To nurture the most inclusive and supportive environment, it’s imperative to create a culture that is proactive rather than reactive when it comes to supporting mental health. Having key training, policies and procedures which safeguard employee’s wellbeing create a great infrastructure to addressing and protecting against discrimination.

To help support you towards this, you can find out more through our training on mental health and wellbeing where you can access guidance on mental health first aid and any enquiries to support mental health in the workplace.

By identifying how we can support our wellbeing, we can look forward to more balanced, nourished and improved mental health into 2022 and beyond.

If you are a member looking for support with mental health in the workplace, please contact your Account Manager.

If you’re not a member, find out about our numerous training opportunities and membership to learn more.