man in gray long sleeve shirt sitting on brown wooden chair
February 9, 2024

Wellbeing: 5 ways to boost your Mental Health

By Kevin Watson

Continuing our focus on wellbeing, as part of such a programme it is important to consider how to foster Mental Health. This is true both for data leaders themselves and the environment they create for their teams.

So, I am, delighted to welcome back guest blogger Kevin Watson. Kevin is a business facilitator and leadership coach. He was awarded the title Personal Development Expert of the Year for 2023, at the Management Consulting Awards. Together with his many years of coaching and fostering the development of leaders and their teams, he has plenty of practical experience in aiding Mental Health.

Regular readers may recall that Kevin has shared with us before on topics including Negativity, Presenting, Career Blueprints and Communicating your Vision. In this post, he shares his five recommended tips to foster your own mental health and that of your team. A wise priority for leaders.

Scientific advice to help you improve your Mental Health

Scientists tell us there are certain things we can do to improve our mental health. These techniques will help you feel more positive about yourself.

They teach you how to ride the lows and wait out the lows. Once you know that, nothing can stop you from getting what you want out of life.

Today, I’m going to share with you five ways to boost your mental health.

1. Connect With Others

Good relationships don’t need years to build. They can form in a matter of months, or weeks even. Plus, they don’t have to be an all-in, best-friends-for-life type of relationship. Just talking to a neighbour or people in your community can have a great impact on your mental health. You learn to listen, empathise, and build a strong sense of self-worth and value.

Have you and a friend not seen each other in a while? Then, reach out and try to arrange a coffee date so you can get together and catch up. How about your children or other family members? Why not try to set an hour during the day when you talk or play games?

We all know how social media has become an important part of our lives. And it’s made it easier to stay in touch with important people in our lives, especially if they live far away. It’s good to text and chat on a regular basis. Just make sure technology isn’t replacing your face-to-face communications with people.

2. Learn New Skills

Learning a new skill or hobby can have a significant boost on your mental health. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and improve your self-esteem. It’s nice to have a sense of purpose, other than your work. It gives you something to look forward to each day.

The problem, however, is many people complain they don’t have enough hours in the day. Luckily, though, technology has made learning more accessible. Here are some of the ways you can use those high-tech gadgets you have to good use:

  • sign up for an online course, like learning a new language or a practical skill like programming
  • look for free video tutorials online to help you out with a DIY project
  • if you enjoy cooking, find healthy recipes and learn how to make them
  • try a new hobby that challenges and entertains you, like painting, writing, or gardening
  • learn to play a new sport or physical activity

3. Pay More Attention

We’re all guilty of not paying attention to people and things going on around us. We’re always busy with work or scrolling through our social media feeds. Learning to focus all your senses on the present moment can improve your mental well-being. It also boosts your mood and lowers stress levels. Experts call this type of focus ‘mindfulness.’

When you practice mindfulness, you enjoy the little things in life. Things like watching a bird soar overhead or taking in the nuances of nature are just two small examples.

When you’re in tune with the small details, you feel more relaxed and at peace. Plus, you start to get a better understanding of what makes you happy or anxious, which is a healthy way to approach life’s challenges. Even a short amount of time in daily meditation can make a big difference.

4. Get Physically Active

When you do any type of physical activity, you boost your physical fitness, as well as your mental health. It could be a short 15-minute walk, an hour of cycling each week, or 30 minutes at the gym. You pick the activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.

Then, once you start noticing the difference, you start to feel good about your looks. That’s when your confidence will soar through the roof. In addition, your brain signals the nervous central system to release ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These wonder chemicals trigger a positive response, which boosts your mood. They also reduce feelings of pain and anxiety.

Check out the following tips on how to get moving to boost your mental health:

  • look online for free activities catered to your fitness level
  • find local centres where you can dance, swim, or cycle
  • try running with a ‘couch to 5K’ app or podcast
  • if you have a chronic health condition or a disability, there are many exercises and physical activities that can be customised to meet your needs

5. Give to Others

According to research, acts of kindness and giving are great ways to improve your mental well-being. The reason is that when we help others, our brains trigger the release of another ‘feel-good’ hormone called oxytocin.

This chemical promotes feelings of empathy and trust. It also makes us calmer, happier, and more inspired to do more. Giving to others could be volunteering at a local shelter or helping out someone on a personal level. 

The point is to offer your time and energy to do something for other people. In return, you’ll feel good about yourself, knowing that you’re valued and appreciated.

Video summary of all five tips

Video summary of these 5 tips to improve your mental health

Which are you practising?

My thanks to Kevin for sharing them with us, during our month of focussing on Wellbeing. I love how simple but practical they are. No rocket science there, but parts of our daily routines that we can easily neglect. We hope that they helped you review what to protect in your own self-care.

Beyond your own interest, I would also recommend that leaders consider how time and resources can be provided for their teams to exercise such self-care. There is lots of talk in corporates these days about psychological safety and fine sounding cultural visions. But many leaders would do well to pay more attention to simple practical realities like connecting people, quiet spaces to think & flexible working times for positive practices. What could you do to help your team?