Healthy habits for better mental health

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Shocking stats: 3 out of 4 suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. We know, it’s heavy, but we want to help.

Men are less likely to seek help for mental health problems, less likely than women to take time off work to get medical help for anxiety or feeling low with many are embarrassed to take time off work for mental health concerns. 

It’s incredible, really, that we still find it difficult to talk about, and seek help for, our mental health. If there was anything else wrong with your body, you’d seek the appropriate medical help, so your brain should be no different. And if someone was embarrassed about having a cold, you’d think they were a bit odd. Mental health issues aren’t quite as common as the common cold, but it’s something the overwhelming majority of us will struggle with at some point in our lives.

We want to help put an end to the shame and stigma. Afterall, we all have mental health and we all need to make sure that we look after it as a valuable part of our body.

Here’s our tips on what to do if you’re struggling with your mental health, or just want to give it a much-needed boost.

See your GP
Going for a walk is a very positive thing and getting some fresh air will always do you good, but it’s not helpful when you’re at rock bottom. It’s not helpful when you’re in a very bad place and finding it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning.  

If you’re really struggling with your mental health, you need to see a doctor.  

It’s worth remembering: 

  • It’s easy to feel like you don’t warrant taking up their time – but you absolutely do. 
  • You are worthy and you deserve the help you need to get better, just the same as if you’d broken your leg. 
  • Whatever happens, the first step of going to get help is the hardest. Left untreated, these things have a nasty habit of spiralling out of control, so if you’re struggling, make an appointment today.

Build healthy habits
So what are these healthy habits and how can you utilise them to improve your wellbeing?


Exercise
There is a growing interest in the role exercise plays in the reduction of major mental health conditions and their symptoms, simply because it is so effective.

It’s worth knowing:  

  • The European Psychiatric Association recommend that exercise should form a core part of treatment plans for mental illness, with physical activity proving successful in improving symptoms in people with depression and schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. 
  • A 15-minute jog can have the same effects as 15 minutes of mindfulness-based relaxation techniques. 

Eat well
Cheat meals, treats and splurges are fine as long as they’re not the norm. Too many greasy takeaways will leave you feeling rough.

The Mental Health Foundation suggests that as the brain is acutely sensitive to what we eat and drink, it needs a balanced diet to remain healthy. Some foods have a long-lasting influence on our mood and mental wellbeing because of the impact they have on the structure and function of the brain.

Do your best to eat as healthy as you can and give your brain a fighting chance. Drink water, eat your veggies and cut down on sugar.  

Look after yourself
Exercise and healthy eating aside, there is a lot you can do to practice a bit of self-care.  

We all need to: 

  • Get enough sleep 
  • Feel fulfilment at work and at home 
  • Socialise 
  • Do things that interest us 

All of these aspects have a positive impact on your health.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to any of this, but if you can find some time to figure out what you need to focus on it will go a long way towards improving your wellbeing.

Make the most of resources available to you
We all know that GPs and NHS mental health services are stretched to the limit thanks to a decade of underfunding and the impact of COVID-19. This shouldn’t stop you from attempting to seek help from your GP, but there’s also no harm in making the most of online resources too.

As a 
MAN v FAT Football player, you get free access to wellbeing platform MAN v FAT Foundations as part of your membership, so ask your coach for details on how to access it. We would definitely recommend it as a starting point for learning techniques for dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression.  

What’s this got to do with weight loss?
A recent study found that there is a link between high BMI and poor mental health, which probably won’t come as a surprise. It’s easy to see that if you’re unhappy with your body, then it follows that you’re probably pretty unhappy generally too.

It’s worth remembering:  

  • Losing weight isn’t always a cure. 
  • Many find once they reach their weight loss goal they’re not as happy as they thought they’d be. The excess weight was a symptom of a bigger problem. 
  • Eating well is so important, food has a huge effect on how we feel.  

Going to bed early isn’t going to magic away those pounds you want to lose, and antidepressants might not directly help you get to your goal weight. But it’s all linked and tied up together in a complicated, tangled web. It’s one piece of the jigsaw. Looking after your wellbeing is one way of giving yourself the best shot at getting healthy, both physically and mentally.

If you’re struggling and require support now

Samaritans
Tel: 116 123 (24 hour line) 

Email: jo@samaritans.org

CALM (Campaign against living miserably) – for men 
Tel: 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm-midnight every day

SANE 
Tel: 0300 304 7000 (4.30-10.30pm every day)

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