How to nurture your mental wellbeing from the comfort of your home

Perhaps you’re trying to save money during the cost of living crisis, or maybe you’re just spending more time at home. Whatever your reasons, taking care of your mental wellbeing should always be a priority.

If there was something we all learnt during the pandemic, it was how to stay busy and proactive in our homes – but we’re not just talking about making banana bread. It’s important to look after your mental health and wellbeing to ensure that you feel your best, and there are several ways you can do this from the comfort of your own home.

Cultivate relationships

Feeling close to and valued by other people is a fundamental human need. Mental health charity Mind states there is strong scientific evidence that such feelings contribute to our overall wellbeing and functioning. Social relationships help us to build a sense of belonging and self-worth, while providing that all-important emotional support when we need it.

Many people live alone or don’t have friends and family nearby. This means it can be difficult to spend quality time with other people, but remember, even little interactions with others can make a difference. A chat in the post office or at the bus stop – it’s just good to talk. And if you can, invite friends and family round for a coffee, join a book club, try out a local exercise class, and so on.

While physical connections are important, there are also plenty of ways to connect with people online, whether that’s through an online community or forum, or even by joining an online class – and you won’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home.

Boost your physical activity

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The NHS recommends that adults between the ages of 19 and 64 should aim to do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. In doing so you’ll keep your body healthy and strong, and it can help your mind to feel the same. Being active improves your mental wellbeing by raising your self-esteem, and changes chemicals in your brain to improve your mood. Plus, regular exercise is also associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression.

Moderate-intensity exercise can be anything from brisk walking, hiking or cycling, to water aerobics, dancing or mowing your lawn. But if this sounds like too much, don’t worry. It’s important that you go at your own pace, and also seek medical advice first if you’re unsure about your capabilities and limitations. You don’t need to just focus on intense exercise to feel good, either – slower-paced activities such as stretching or gentle yoga allow you to move your body without putting it under as much pressure.

There are also a variety of classes that cater for people with different access needs. If you have a physical disability or long-term health condition, you may find it useful to check with charities and organisations supporting your condition to find out if they have any suggestions, resources or classes. You can also find a list of useful links and guides on Scope’s article about exercising at home with a disability.

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Man with a prosthetic leg, stretching and exercising

Conquer a new skill

Research has shown that engaging your brain and learning something new can improve your mental wellbeing, boost your self-esteem, and help you to develop a larger sense of purpose.

Taking an online class is a great alternative to physically attending one, and it can also help you to meet and connect with new people. Check out such websites as FutureLearn and OpenLearn for free online courses or, if you don’t mind spending a bit of money, you could look at sites including Udemy. There are even distance learning providers such as the Open University available, if you want to pursue a degree or longer-term learning commitment.

If taking a class isn’t your thing, you could download the Duolingo app to learn the basics of a new language, or take up a new hobby such as writing a blog, painting or cooking – which leads us onto our next tip…

Supercharge your diet

A balanced diet full of nutritious food is key to maintaining a healthy brain and a more positive mindset – take a read of Mind’s article on how food can affect your mood.

Both the NHS and EatWell websites recommend:

  • Getting at least five portions of fruit and veg a day
  • Basing your meals around high-fibre starchy carbohydrates
  • Lowering your saturated fat and sugar intake
  • Ensuring you drink at least seven glasses of water a day

You can find a full list of NHS dietary tips here, or a more general healthy eating and cooking tips article here.

If you’re not sure where to start when preparing healthy meals, why not head to YouTube for some free cooking lessons? Clean Eating Kitchen even has a round-up of the best YouTube cooking channels that you can follow.

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“A balanced diet full of nutritious food is key to maintaining a healthy brain and a more positive mindset”

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Practise mindfulness

Paying more attention to the present moment improves your mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts, feelings and body, but also the world around you.

This awareness is usually referred to as ‘mindfulness’. Mindfulness can help lift your mood and improve your life, as it helps you positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. It can also help you to understand yourself better, which in turn improves confidence and self-compassion. A good place to start when practising mindfulness is by meditating – there are plenty of apps and free online videos to help you get started, but Headspace is a brilliant beginner-friendly option. Find out more about mindfulness on the NHS website.

Spending time outside is also crucial for mental wellbeing. If you have access to a garden, tending to plants or even enjoying a hot drink outside is great for getting a daily dose of vitamin D and lifting your mood.

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Seek support

There is no shame in asking for help. If you need additional support in your home, or if you’re struggling with a dip in your mental wellbeing, signing up for support services to help make life easier is a great option.

Counselling can be really helpful for talking things through with a trusted professional, and doing so from the comfort of your home is now easier than ever. BACP has plenty of articles on its website listing the details of telephone and online counselling, and even about how to make the most out of an online session with a counsellor. If this sounds like something of interest, check out BACP’s guide on how to go about finding a therapist.

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Further reading

Additional support at home

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service, designed to support those who need a little extra help in the event of interruptions to their gas, water or electricity supply.

If you or someone you know has extra communication, access or safety needs, signing up to the PSR will help you to access the best possible services at all times and to feel safe and independent at home.

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