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The year 2020 is a challenge for many. Psychiatrists confirm that mental illnesses such as depression will continue to increase due to the corona crisis. Five things you can do to improve your mental health.

From: Marlene Mengue

As of: 09/30/2020

Mental health concerns us all. And yet it still falls under the table far too often. Because mental illness is a taboo. Because many people are much more reluctant to go to a psychologist than to see a family doctor. And because mental illnesses often creep into life quietly: Many sufferers only notice late that their psyche is suffering. The result: In recent years, the number of sick leave due to mental illness has continued to increase. A current report by the health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit shows: The number of mentally-related days of absence increased by 137 percent from 2000 to 2019. The corona crisis could exacerbate this tendency. Prevention is therefore the order of the day. You can do something good for your mental health with these five tips:

1. Get moving

Modern people are reluctant to move. According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, 5.3 million people worldwide die each year as a result of inactivity - roughly the same number die as a result of smoking. The WHO recommends moderate exercise for two and a half hours a week to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Mental health also benefits immensely from exercise: During exercise, the messenger substances serotonin and dopamine are released. These "happiness hormones" help to reduce tension and stress and to lift the mood. Doctors and therapists therefore recommend physical activity as a therapy-supporting measure for mental illnesses. Whether yoga, football or horse riding: It is important to find your personal favorite sport that is fun - so that your weaker self has no chance of ruining your motivation. Hear how other people motivate themselves to exercise.

2. Find a place of calm

Our environment influences our mental health. In English there is the term “happy place” for this. A place where we are happy and can relax - practically an energy filling station for the soul. This place can be different for everyone: for some it is the sofa, for others it is their favorite café. But also a wall in the apartment, which awakens beautiful memories with hanging photos, can be your “happy place”.

If you don't have a place like this to yourself, you might find it in nature. That is supposed to make us particularly happy. Scientists at Aarhus University in Denmark have found: the greener the environment, the happier we are. People who grow up surrounded by forests, meadows or parks have a significantly lower risk of mental illness than those who grow up away from green spaces.

3. Find a bedtime ritual

Good sleep is an important requirement for mental health. Those who find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for a long time have a higher risk of developing depression. On the other hand, sleep disorders can also be the first warning signs of mental illness.

One of the biggest sleep killers is the thought carousel that kicks in for many people as soon as they calm down. As soon as you lie in bed, you look back on the day or think about upcoming challenges. This may be because we hardly get to pursue these thoughts during the day because of the sheer stress.

Try to take enough time to clear your head before you go to bed. Turn off laptops, televisions or smartphones and look for something to do that calms you down. This works particularly well with meditation. Scientists have now been able to demonstrate the positive effects of meditation even in the brain.

4. Do something you enjoy

When was the last time you were in the flow? This term describes the feeling of being completely forgotten while doing something that gives you pleasure. Children are true flow masters: They can play for hours and are completely in the here and now. They hardly notice anything of their surroundings.

When people - whether children or adults - come into the flow, their prefrontal cortex becomes amazingly calm. Sports psychologist Oliver Stoll found that out. This area of ​​the brain is usually responsible for brooding. No wonder Flow makes us so happy. The best way to get into the flow is by playing, doing sports or making music. It is important that the activity corresponds to one's own abilities. So: if you do something that you enjoy and that is not too easy or difficult, the feelings of happiness will come naturally.

5. Send a postcard to a loved one

We humans are group animals. Staying in contact with people who are important to us is good for the soul. Friends and relatives give us security in life. They increase our well-being and our self-esteem. A large-scale study from Canada with 25,000 participants confirms that friendships are like balm for the soul. According to the study, subjects with friends felt more comfortable and healthier than those who stated that they did not have close friendships. The study participants felt particularly comfortable when they not only stay in contact with their friends via chat or e-mail, but also interact with one another in “real life” - go to the cinema or cook together.

It has become a bit more difficult since Corona - but even in times of pandemic there are enough opportunities to maintain relationships. How about writing a postcard or a letter to your best friend again? This personal gesture will make not only the recipient happy, but you too.

The Bayern 2 Mental Health Week on Instagram

We also deal with mental health on our Instagram channel. From October 5th to 11th we encourage our users to deal with one aspect of mental health every day.

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bayern2 2020 has been a real challenge for many so far. That is why we invite you to spend a week looking at your mental health. 💆 💆‍♂️ We are starting the Bayern 2 Mental Health Week from October 5th to 11th. 👇👇👇 Here on Instagram you can post a picture that fits the topic for the respective day. This allows you to show others what you are doing for your mental health and motivate them to take care of their mental health as well. If you use the two hashtags #ichbinwichtig and #mentalhealth, we will share your posts in our story. We are of course also there, because together we are strong 💪! . . . . . #mentalegesundheit #endthestigma #challenge #gesundheit #depression #depri #krise #who #gemeinsamsindwirstark #wirschaffendas #togeistmanwenigerallein #redenhilft #corona #covid #fckcorona