Prevention is the best form of cure. It’s a phrase public health experts have long advocated and one with a particular pertinence in an age where more and more young people are suffering from mental health problems. Indeed, one in five 16-24 year olds are experiencing issues with wellbeing at any one time. It’s vital, then, that we take proactive steps, individually and as one, to tackle these issues head on and with as much knowledge, confidence and support as possible. Self care; we all need and deserve it. With that in mind, here are 5 IDEAL steps to a more positive outlook today.

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON MENTAL HEALTH

It’s a glaring, troubling omission from every school syllabus, that young people are primarily educated in regard to their physical health. We’re taught about having a ‘healthy’ diet, we’re guided on how to throw an ‘effin javelin. But, anxiety, depression and the requisite coping strategies, symptom management and holistic prevention methods are things barely given a mention. It’s almost as if society wants us to be stressed, compliant and satisfied with less, right?

Though it shouldn’t be this way, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Ensure that you’re highly educated about mental health, always alert and listening to your mind for warning signs. Get reading about different schools of psychological thought on the subject and the most effective, NHS approved strategies for tackling low mood head on. Check out our 5 IDEAL wellbeing exercises to include in your everyday here.

HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY MIND

It’s no secret anymore. So mainstream a notion now, that it shouldn’t even be deemed a ‘miracle cure’. Yep, we’re talking about exercise’s hugely positive rule in mental wellbeing. Countless studies have concluded that daily exercise of some description (running in particular) does wonders for our outlook and state of mind. Try to include a little in your day, no matter how busy you may be.

This healthy body, healthy mind mantra also extends to diet. Although sometimes the link isn’t immediately obvious, an unhealthy diet is inextricably linked with a level of mental anguish. Conversely, a decent, attentive diet can do wonders for the mind. Foods which are thought to reduce stress and anxiety reduction include avocados and bananas (high in potassium, known to lower blood pressure), bitter, leafy veg like swiss chard (whose magnesium balances cortisol, the body’s stress hormone), and omega 3 rich fish like mackerel and salmon, which are great for heart health.

MINDFUL MEDITATION

Six years ago the NHS recognised mindful meditation as an alleviator of depression and anxiety. Since then, ‘taking a moment’ has gone mainstream, with more and more people discovering the great benefits it can bring to their overall sense of wellbeing. 

So, one of the best things you can bring to your daily mental health regime is to include a meditation or two. ‘But we don’t have the time, energy or money’, we hear you say. Well, even a ten minute session can bring benefits, and meditating requires nothing more than a quiet, peaceful space and your own mind. There are apps to guide you, which is certainly useful at first; we use Calm but others are also available.

ABSOLUTELY NO STIGMA IN SEEKING HELP

Not everyone has the time to study mental health and well-being in the depth required to take back control of their lives. This path can sometimes be a lonely one. It’s crucial, then, in your journey to becoming a more positive you, that support and advice is sought at every corner and bump in the road. This could take the form of family member, friend or trusted confidant. Equally, if a little distance might suit you better, then there’s absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. Start by talking to your GP, who will then offer advice and a possible referral to a therapist. 

KEEP A GRATITUDE DIARY

It’s been well documented that gratitude is a key contributor to happiness. By keeping a diary of daily appreciation, you may find yourself more grounded, humble, thankful and kind towards the world around you. 

It’s wise to approach this act with empathy, rather than simply going through the motions; if you’ve had a non eventful day, don’t feel compelled to complete your journal. Instead, focus on depth, not breadth, and on people you appreciate, rather than things. In doing so, you’ll notice a gradual, growing warmth towards to world.