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Mental Health First Aid: 5 Things to Do When You Need to Feel Better Right Now

Though mental illness stigma continues to be a problem, mental health issues are common. Fourteen percent of Australians, for instance, report experiencing anxiety each year. Of the millions of people who struggle with various mental health issues, only about a third will seek help. At Three Seas, we’re on a mission to change that. Seeking counselling is an act of courage and hope that has the power to forever change your life and shift your focus. Though counselling is important on the journey to feeling better, it’s certainly not the only tool. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis right nowwhether it’s intense anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or severe depressionyou deserve relief as quickly as possible.

If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, you need help immediately. Call a loved one, therapist, doctor, or suicide hot line. If you’re experiencing another mental health crisis, try one of these surefire, research-backed strategies.

Get Moving

Exercise is great for your long-term mental health, and some studies even suggest it can treat depression and anxiety just as effectively as popular medications. But exercise is more than just a long-term solution; it’s also a quick fix. A quick aerobic workout gives you a burst of endorphins that can lift you out of a bad mood. In pain? That’s no excuse. Exercise offers both immediate and long-term benefits to chronic pain sufferers.

Change Your Environment

Sometimes boredom can feel a lot like depression, and a host of mental health issues, ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia, can sap your energy, convincing you you’re better off staying home. Changing your environment can help ease painful emotions. Try getting out for a cup of coffee, going for a brisk walk, or simply window shopping at your favorite boutique. Changing your scenery can give you a new outlook on the scenery of your life.

Get Social

When you’re feeling bad, talking to others may be the very last thing you want to do, but research consistently shows that human contact is one of the best ways to improve mental health. Don’t lock yourself away. You don’t have to talk to anyone about your feelings if you don’t want to, but the simple act of spending time with a friend or loved one can lift you out of your misery. Plan a weekly outing with someone you love, or simply go to a social event, such as a book club meeting or local festival. Make an effort to talk to people and you may be surprised to see how quickly your spirits improve.

Meditate

Meditation comes in many forms, from focusing on a single object to repeating inspiring mantras. And research shows that it doesn’t just make you feel better; it actually changes the way your brain responds to stress, making you more resilient and healthier over time. Commit to just 20 minutes of meditation a day, and you may see a long-term improvement. For now, though, meditate on the feelings you’d like to replace your current list with, and you may be surprised to see how fast the feelings you want become the feelings you have.

Nourish Your Body

Before you give up on the day or on yourself, ask yourself a simple question: when was the last time you ate? Hunger and dehydration can wreck your mood, even if things are going well. Before you pronounce this day the worst ever, drink a tall glass of ice water, and eat a meal high in protein and rich in fruits and veggies. In just 20 minutes, you might find that you feel better. If you find yourself chronically struggling with hunger-related anger, depression, or sadness, talk to a nutritionist, since deficits in your current eating habits might also help explain deficits in your mental health.