As accountants and advisers we talk to our clients regularly about different aspects of their financial fitness – cashflow, budgeting, forecasting, investing, saving, retirement planning and so on. What is often left behind in the pursuit of financial fitness is our mental fitness. So for this thought piece, we thought we’d take a step back from the busy world of accounting, business advisory and wealth management to explore some practical ways you can improve and maintain your mental wellbeing through the stress and rigour of everyday life.
Hitting our 10,000 steps each day or the gym for an hour has obvious physical benefits but the subsequent effect on our mental health cannot be understated. If you’re familiar with the concept of a “runner’s high”, you may already be aware of the connection between exercise and the release of endorphins. However, exercise goes beyond just promoting the production of endorphins. Engaging in regular physical activity can actually boost the levels of dopamine, known as the “pleasure” hormone that plays a role in the brain’s reward system, as well as serotonin, a mood stabiliser that contributes to overall well-being.
If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that social connection has a significant impact on our mental wellbeing. The value of quality over quantity cannot be overstated when it comes to social interactions. Rather than simply engaging in superficial conversations for the sake of socialising, it is crucial to recognise the importance of meaningful connections. A heartfelt discussion with a close friend can often bring much more satisfaction than a gathering with acquaintances. To enhance the quality of our social interactions, it is essential to cultivate good social skills. Building strong connections requires an active effort from both parties involved. Developing good listening skills plays a crucial role in creating quality interactions, and paying attention to the thoughts, feelings, and experiences shared by others demonstrates a sincere interest in their perspective and fosters a deeper connection.
Investing in quality interactions not only enriches our own experiences but also enhances the well-being of those around us. By prioritising the depth and authenticity of our social connections, we can create a more fulfilling and satisfying social life and combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. For further reading, the Black Dog Institute has some additional tips on combatting loneliness.
Get Some Sleep!
Better quality sleep makes it easier for us to manage our emotions, make better decisions and improves our overall mood – but so many of us simply don’t get enough of it! The stress of life, being worried or anxious about things and not having a healthy night-time routine can all contribute to poor sleep. This cycle will continue indefinitely unless you proactively instigate change. According to Headspace, there are a few key things you can try in order to improve your quality and quantity of sleep:
- Pack away the video games, shut down your laptop and switch off social media at least one hour before bedtime. Consider reading a book to wind down.
- If you are using your computer or phone at night, lower the brightness and turn on the blue light filter.
- Mindfulness exercises and apps (e.g. Smiling Mind) can guide you through winding down before bed.
- Try to get the same amount of sleep every night. Falling asleep one hour earlier is better than sleeping in one hour later.
- Avoid caffeinated beverages at least six hours before bedtime, and avoid napping during the day if possible.
Consider the above ways to improve your mental wellbeing while People + Partners takes care of your financial wellbeing.