5 Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Mental Health Right Now

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay
The percentage of people battling with one mental health issue or the other keep increasing at an alarming rate. According to WHO, around 450 million people are suffering from mental or neurological disorders globally.

In a recent study, the FG revealed that 30% of Nigerians suffer from mental illness, VanguardMany people find it difficult to seek professional help due to the stigma surrounding the condition. 

Mental health problems can get in the way of our productivity and lead to a lower quality of life. Every individual is bound to face challenges and things won’t always go as planned. 

Maintaining sound mental health can help us to respond better to anything that life throws at us and bounce back in no time.

Here are some cost-effective ways to enhance your mental health. 

1. Improve your diet


The food we eat usually influence our mental health, sleep patterns, immune system, and energy levels. Walnut, avocado, herring, sardines, fish oil supplements, fruits, and leafy greens are your best bet for promoting a good mood.

Cut down your intake of processed foods because they are high in sugar and unhealthy fats. Try to take alcohol and caffeine in moderation especially around bedtime. 

2.  Keep a gratitude journal


A grateful soul is a fountain of joy. Develop the habit of writing a list of the things you’re grateful for daily. This practice has been proven to boost mental health and wellness.

Mobile apps can come in handy to keep you on track by setting reminders. Endeavor to include both your minor and major achievements in the gratitude journal

3. Get quality sleep


Sleep deprivation is a major issue that is faced by millennials and baby boomers. It’s caused by a number of factors and most of them can be controlled.

Ensure that you stop using your smartphone or PC at least an hour before bedtime. Alternatively, you can rely on software with features for filtering blue light.

Stick to a bedtime routine to help you fall and stay asleep better and sleep in a cool environment. 

4. Help others


Several individuals have discovered that they often feel better each time they help others. The world still needs a touch of kindness here and there.

You can spend time with lonely or sick people, volunteer for a cause, donate to charity or send a thank you note to your loved ones.

Come up with different ways to improve the existing relationships in your life. This can help you to develop strong bonds with your loved ones.

5. Don’t suffer in silence 


People prefer bottling up their emotions due to so many reasons. It can be hard to find someone to trust in a world where everyone is after their selfish interests.

No one wants to be perceived as a weakling. The fact that people rarely speak up about mental health problems doesn’t mean you’re alone. 

Mental health organizations such as Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) exist to create awareness and help individuals to overcome stigma. 

Connect with people who care about your emotional well being online or in person. It’s ideal to be in the company of positive people. Sharing your story can help you to feel better and find a lasting solution. 

The best thing is to seek professional help if none of these suggestions work. A therapist will design a treatment plan that fits your needs and help you develop coping mechanisms. 

Over to you, how do you take care of your mental health? 

A Letter to My Younger Self - You're Enough


Yay! I finally got my groove back after a long hiatus.

Taking a break from blogging was never part of the plan but life happens anyway.

My service year was like living in another world entirely due to the power supply and network issues.

I couldn’t muster the effort to start blogging again after I got back. 

Enough with the excuses!

Writing this comeback post took me a truckload of courage and faith. My readers deserve the best and I’m ready to remain committed this time around. 

No more disappearing acts. Peptwine is here to stay.  

I celebrated my birthday a few days ago and decided to pen down a letter to my younger self. 

It’s not like I’m living a life full of regrets but there are some things I wished I had known earlier.

Let’s get started already! 

  • Personal development


Your curiosity and hunger for knowledge will be nearly insatiable.

You may never get answers to all your questions but don't stop asking anyway. 

Nevertheless, be mindful of the books you read and the people you hang around with.

You have the freedom of choice but remember that every single choice matters.

Don’t loathe change, make friends with it instead.

As time goes on, you will realize that you must be better than the person you were yesterday.

Inasmuch as you want to achieve this, overcome self-doubt and give yourself the gift of forgiveness each time you fail. 

  • Friendship


You will spend a lot of time with yourself than anyone else.

Take time to discover who you really are.

Be your number one fan and muse.

In all thy getting, prioritize confidence and nurture a solid relationship with yourself.

There is no need to be confused or alarmed when you realize that you’re an introvert.

Being introverted is nothing to be ashamed of; it can even be one of your greatest strengths.

You’re just as normal and amazing as the extroverted lass next door.

You don’t need to cave in to pressure or embrace toxicity to impress anyone.

It’s perfectly okay if you build healthy friendships with just a few people.

  • Love


Head over heart, baby.

It’s pointless to constantly prove to someone that you’re worthy of their love.

Settling down for a watered down version of love is heart-wrenching. 

Why not invest that energy into loving and improving yourself? 

You will find yourself in different zones and undergo different transitions.

Love will eventually find you. 

Try to work on different facets of your life while you wait.

It may take time, but it’s worth it.

And when it happens, love without an iota of fear.

  • Mental health


Depression is real.

Emotional abuse is real. 

Your mental and emotional health matter. 

Many voices will keep yelling in your head at the same time. Trust your intuition as you find your way.

Ask for help. 

Seek enlightenment from the right sources. 

Know when to walk away from certain people and situations. 

Take note of the lessons learned and tap from the well of joy that's within you.   

  • Money


Nobody owes you anything in this world, not even your parents.

The earlier you understand this, the happier and freer you will be.

Focus on adding value without expecting anything in return. 

You will hear it several times that money doesn’t bring happiness. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn't invest in experiences and things that make you happy.

Cultivate the habit of budgeting and saving before you become financially independent. 

Acquire sound financial intelligence and learn the principles of managing money early enough. 

  • Purpose 


Living a full life starts with doggedly pursuing your passion.

Finding out where your strengths lie will save you time and unnecessary headache.

Distractions will come in the form of the opinions of others and the fear of failure. 

Many will want to mold you into the exact image in their heads.  

Don't let the size of your dreams scare you.

Remember that you’re called to something bigger. 

This the key to finding fulfillment.  

Unconditionally yours, 
B. 

P.S: I will keep loving you even if this letter isn't delivered or you fail to live by it. 


An Overview of My NYSC Orientation Camp Experience

Kebbi Corpers
Gallant Corpers

For several months, I kept praying earnestly that the federal government would just decide to scrap off the NYSC scheme. My prayers went unanswered and to my chagrin, I was posted to Kebbi State. A week later, I set out on the trip with some prospective corp members who also knew little about the state. We bonded in no time and this made our journey exciting.

After traveling for close to 19 hrs, we arrived at the orientation camp in the wee hours of the morning. Instantly, I understood the true meaning of harmattan. We were directed to the administrative block where we wrote down our names before taking mattresses and dispersing to our different hostels. Around 9 am, the registration process began and our kits were issued to us. As usual, most of the corp members had to alter their khakis at the mammy market. I was lucky enough to get a pair of jungle boots that snugly fitted my tiny feet. 

Parade ground
The Parade Ground, NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Dakingari, Kebbi State

The hostels

Before traveling down to the orientation camp, I learned that it is one of the best camps in Nigeria. This piece of information put my mind at ease, but I was careful not to raise my hope too high. On getting there, I discovered that the hostels are relatively new with facilities that are still in good shape. Each room has bunk beds and can contain up to 30 occupants. Vests, socks, shorts and water were the major things that were stolen.   

 

Camp food

Feeding over 3,000 individuals is not an easy task. We were fed three times a day, even though the meal may not be up to one’s satisfaction. I’ve never tried eating any Hausa dishes before, so I didn't go near the kitchen on the days that they were served. Those who couldn't eat the camp meals opted to buy food at mammy market. A plate of food costs #300, except noodles, bread and potato or yam chips which vary in price. 

Mammy market 

mami market
Mammy market
Due to the fact that the traders at mammy have to pay their dues, they sell things at exorbitant prices and most of the time, corp members have no option than to patronize them. The market is always full of activities as the traders sell all sorts of things and offer different services that include dry cleaning, hairdressing, barbing and charging of mobile devices.

Man o' war drills and parades

Take dressing!
Call out the timing! 

Those orders often wake me up from my reverie. I'll be dreaming of eating amala and correct soup in Lagos and the soldiers won't stop asking if we are good to go or motivated. "I'm a survivor" and "this too shall pass" became my favourite slogans. Towards the end of the first week, I got tired of the regimented lifestyle. We participated in drills and parades every morning and evening, except on Sunday mornings.

Drills
Two of my platoon members, a platoon officer and me

Social activities and lectures

Each platoon had to handle the social activities and give their presentation on the days assigned to them. The social activities were held at night and normally start around 8 pm. Some were really boring to the extent that the platoon members presenting that night will be booed,  while others have the effect of keeping you at the edge of your seat. As for the sleep-inducing morning lectures, most corp members attend them in order to escape from the morning parades and get few minutes of sleep.

Dakingari Orientation Camp experience was a wonderful one and I enjoyed it to the fullest. I met many people and made lots of amazing friends. I was blown away by the diversity of human nature within three weeks. Parting with most of my newly made friends was quite emotional during the passing out parade because it seemed as if we've known each other for years. I came back to Lagos three pounds thinner, two shades darker, and a higher than average morale. Although I don’t know what’s in store for me in Kebbi State yet, I believe that they are worth looking forward to. 

Ditch Dating Rules and Make Intuition Your Guide Instead


dating

As Dayo sashayed into the bar, James muttered to himself how lucky he was. Without mincing words, she is a beauty to behold from head to toe and walks with a mesmerising grace. It was their first date, although they've spoken over the phone several times. He prayed fervently that she wouldn't break more than one of his dating rules. They are so dear and he adheres strictly to them than the 10 commandments.

Within three hours, she broke two rules and Mr. Man instantly resolved to continue with his ultimate search. Meanwhile, she doesn't believe in any of the traditional rules. After the first date, he severed contact with her. Series of messages went unanswered until she got tired and stopped. It didn’t take too long for her to get over it. “His loss,” she mused.

Back to his rules, she unknowingly broke the first by offering to pay for the meal. Secondly, she called an hour after they parted, gushing about how she had a nice time. One of his expired rules states that if a lady offers to pay for dinner, she will never be submissive. Another states that a lady who initiate contact before the second date is clingy and desperate, be wise and run for your dear life bro."

It's common to see headlines like “21 Dos and Don’ts of Relationship” or “50 Rules to Keep Him Happy, Satisfied and Interested” concocted by mortals like us and some will follow them to the last letter. These rules have been evolving, making most of them obsolete.

intuition

If factors such as age and country were put into consideration, some of these rules are not applicable. Human beings are ever dynamic, what works for the writer may not work for someone else. Few of these rules still contain grains of wisdom, this is when our intuition should be activated.

Over time, I have discovered that the instinct or gut feeling is 95% accurate, not only in issues of relationships but in other areas of life. We all know that sooner or later, the truth will be revealed. Our intuition detects people's true intentions and highlights red flags as soon as it spots them.

Anyone can use its powers, but it may not be that potent because we dismiss its suggestions constantly. Journaling can be a great place to start. Keeping notes of our body language, the vibes we feel either positive or negative, random thoughts that pop up and, whether we feel safe or not could assist with having a clearer perspective. When we go back to our journals, some words might jump up at us screaming "I told you so!"

Engaging in excessive romantic fantasy interferes with our instincts, so it's better to keep it in check. Apart from guiding in wise decision making, trusting our gut feeling helps to make deeper connections in relationships which in turn lead to better understanding. This can only be effective when the sixth sense works together with the remaining five.

Do you feel that following one's intuition is safer or will ignoring the majority of these rules be risky? Perhaps you have an entirely different opinion. Don't hesitate to air your views in the comments section.