Sometimes using drugs and alcohol can have a negative impact on your mental health. This can happen while you’re still experiencing the effects of a substance, or during a comedown. The experience can be different for different people, and can vary from one experience to another.
Here are some helpful tips from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand to help you look after your mental health in those moments when things are tough. These simple actions are big mood boosters – find what works for you and keep at it!
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Six practical ways to look after your mental health
1. Connect with others
Connecting with others is important for our wellbeing and helps to make us feel safer, less stressed and less anxious. Keep in touch with your friends and whānau through whatever means works for you – from playing video games together to social media, video chats and text
2. Take notice
Notice the beauty in the world around you. Take time to feel the sun on your skin, breathe in the fresh air whenever you can, make a list of what you’re grateful for, take the time to thank someone for how they make you feel, do a mindfulness exercise on YouTube, or watch the plants in your home or outside your window growing and changing with each passing day.
3. Get moving
Regular movement and exercise helps to release tension and stress and gives you an energy boost. It can positively impact self-esteem, and can help you concentrate, sleep, and feel better. This doesn’t mean you have to hit up the gym or join a sports team – you can go for a walk, try a workout on YouTube, or take some time to simply stretch.
4. Stick to a routine (or start a new one)
Routines sound dull, but they’re good for mental health. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, change your clothes, do your chores. This will help you to manage your days.
5. Stay curious and keep learning
Learning new things helps to focus your mind and gives you a sense of purpose. It could be learning a new language by downloading an app like DuoLingo, picking up a new craft, researching your whakapapa or family tree, or even mastering a tricky recipe. Staying curious and engaging with the world around you is a great way to uplift your wellbeing.
6. Explore different ways to relax
Many of us aren’t very good at just relaxing. Find ways to rest, switch off and recharge. Reading, mindfulness, yoga and deep breathing are all great ways to unwind. It might take a bit of trial and error to find what works for you but keep at it – we all need to find things that help us switch off and re-energise our minds and bodies.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor. A number of helpline services are available right now in New Zealand that offer support, information and help for you and your parents, family, whānau and friends. Find out more about them here.
If you’re worried about your own drinking or drug taking, you can reach out to the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You'll be able to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential. You can also chat to them online through the website.