Over the past eighteen months, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of both children and adults. In fact, an estimated one in five adults said they experienced some form of depression during the pandemic and a recent Young Minds survey revealed a whopping 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
A shift in mindset can have a significant impact on how people manage their mental health, so to mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, a selection of experts reveal their top lifestyle hacks that anyone can implement in 5 minutes or less to help boost their mental health.
Try meditating for 60 seconds
Giving yourself the time to meditate each day can give you a sense of peace, calm and balance and can have massive benefits to your overall health and emotional wellbeing. In fact, medical conditions have been managed through the art of meditation, as the benefits continue after your session ends.
Recent statistics reveal that since 2012, the number of people who meditate around the world has tripled. It’s estimated that 200 to 500 million people use this ancient practice that modern science has proven to be so beneficial for our health and wellbeing.
There are lots of misconceptions when it comes to meditation. Some people often think that it will take up too much time and think it’s a test of endurance – the longer they can sit peacefully still the better. Unfortunately, people tend to ‘give up’ in their heads before they actually give it a go.
Meditation expert, Zen priest and former psychotherapist Martin Boroson, from the One Moment Company, says that anybody can get the benefits of meditation. For ten years, Martin has been teaching people that it is entirely possible to make a meaningful change to their state of mind quickly. In fact, when Martin showed executives and organisations how to meditate effectively in just a minute per day, their stress levels reduced by 33%.
“Once they realise that it only needs a moment, meditation suddenly becomes accessible. They understand that they can meditate whenever they need to, whether they are in waiting rooms, on the train, in board rooms, or in between bites. The most important time to meditate is the very moment we think we don’t have the time to meditate,” says Martin.
Just one moment of meditation can make a big difference to your mental state. With the free One-Moment® app, beginners can learn how to meditate quickly and powerfully. The meditation takes a whole minute, but somewhere within that time, that moment will be found.
Spend 5 minutes every day writing in a journal
Journaling is now considered a successful technique to aid mindfulness and it can really help to clear your mind, making important connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
There’s something to be said about putting pen to paper and writing down our thoughts. It’s a form of self-expression that can empower you to make sense of what you’re feeling and how to deal with it. By relieving and processing your emotions in this way, it can not only reduce stress and improve your mental health, but it can also boost your immune system.
“Stress plays a big role in how we are feeling as it can weigh heavy on our minds, so it’s really important to manage it effectively. Journaling can actually lower blood pressure, as it allows you to work through your emotions, giving you time to make sense of them and rationalise them. This in turn, makes you feel more at ease,” explains Elisa Nardi, Career Development Expert and CEO of Notebook Mentor.
According to a study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, people who journaled about their to-do lists and tasks they needed to complete the next day, fell asleep quicker than those who wrote down the activities they had finished. It seems as though that by writing down your tasks and outstanding actions on paper, you’re letting your brain know that you can forget about them until the morning – hence drifting off quicker.
“We live in a fast-paced society, where there is always something to be done. Life can be a juggling act and it can really take its toll. Taking some time for yourself each day to sit down with your journal and reflect on your day, will not only help you feel calm and centred, it will also give you the chance to reconnect with yourself,” adds Elisa.
Give yourself a 5 minute pep talk in the mirror
‘An incredible way to keep your mindset strong is to give yourself a bit of appreciation and love. Self-love is such an important thing, however not enough of us really give ourselves the credit we deserve. In fact, one in two women globally feel more self-doubt than self-love.
Gina Swire, a Self-Love Expert and Author of ‘PS I Love Me’ has worked with thousands of women, of different ages and backgrounds, all over the world. She’s seen all the patterns and learnt the tricks, hacks and practices to help even the most sceptical woman transform.
“My 5-minute magic mirror exercise is something both women and men can do each day to help them feel better about themselves,” says Gina.
Looking in the mirror and telling yourself positive, uplifting things might feel alien at first, but like with anything, if you do something consistently for a long period of time, it quickly becomes a habit.
The things you tell yourself will either motivate and encourage you, or they will make you feel inferior, leading to imposter syndrome. When you’re thinking that way, it’s very easy to keep spiralling, but incorporating self-love into your daily routine will ensure that you’re giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for everything you’re achieving, however insignificant you think it might be.’
Take a moment to reset your boundaries
Another lifestyle hack to keep your mental health in check is to take a moment to review your boundaries and reset them if they aren’t working for you. Other people can really affect our mental state, so it’s important to set boundaries that keep unwanted criticism, nosiness and drama at bay. Anything or anybody that mentally drains us or causes us anxiety should be distanced from you.
Karen Meager & John McLachlan, Organisational Psychologists and Co-Founders of Monkey Puzzle Training says, “Often in situations where your boundaries are being threatened, the best response is a mix of what we say and our body language. Your boundaries are more likely to remain in place when you smile, maintain eye contact, remain calm, and use a controlled and steady tone of voice. As we say in our book, ‘Time Mastery’, you behave your time boundaries – and it’s these behaviours that send out the signals you want others to understand.”
Having clear boundaries in place, in all relationships whether that be loved ones, friends, or even your relationship with your job is not selfish. It’s actually essential to keep your wellbeing protected.
Take an intentional 5 minute break, right now
Burnout can be caused by stress, so it’s important to manage the pressure you’re under, both at work and at home. It’s quite normal to come under stress, as it’s part of everyday life, but it’s important you have the right approaches and coping mechanisms in place to ensure your mental wellbeing stays strong.
Lesley Cooper, Founder and CEO of Working Well, has 25 years of experience working to help and support leaders and individuals to get the best out of their working environment. Lesley says, “Breaks are required to prevent mental fatigue and stress from becoming a wider issue. Encouraging regular and intentional breaks should be part of everyone’s approach to maintaining their wellbeing.”
We all know that when we feel under pressure, overwhelmed, tired or unmotivated, taking a quick five-minute break can make a big difference. “Recovery breaks of as short as five minutes each day can be effective if they are intentional and involve movement of some sort,” says Lesley.
Spend a few minutes visualising your Financial Future
There is an intricate link between financial issues and mental health. Research shows that 86% of 5,500 people surveyed revealed that their mental health issues were made worse because of their financial circumstances.
So how can we combat this? Logan Leckie is a FIRE Expert and the Founder of finance and lifestyle app Topia, which helps Millennials to retire early. He advises people to focus on their long-term objectives, and create a methodical plan of small, bite-sized steps that can be taken to make that goal a reality.
“When you’re feeling stressed, down or out of control, it can be easy up your spending as a way to give you temporary mood lift,” explains Logan. But this doesn’t last long and not only will the low mood return, but you’ll have less money in the bank too. That’s why it’s important to keep visualising the long-term goal and stick to your savings plan, even when things are stressful. The closer you get to your financial goals, the more in control you’ll feel about your situation and the more empowered you’ll be to live your life on your terms.”
A tool to help you with this is the Topia app. It will help you unlock the freedom, flexibility and security to choose how you spend your time. In just five minutes each day, you can really get on top of your finances and be on the road to financial freedoom.
There are many factors that can taking their toll and play havoc on our mental health and emotional wellbeing. The important thing is being able to manage and keep our emotions in check. Every one of us is very different, which means our coping mechanisms are too. What works for one person, might not necessarily work for you, and vice versa.
Take the time to sit down and work out what might be triggering you right now. Is there something that’s causing you stress, worry or concern? If there is, there’s no time like the present to try one of the techniques / tools above. Your happier, calmer and more peaceful life awaits.