Top tips on how to mind your mental health and wellbeing, from becoming your own wingman to using social media wisely

Ahead of World Mental Health Day on Monday (October 10), Weekend has compiled advice and support on areas that can cause frustration and upset.

Become your own wingman

I have spent many years figuring out how the brain works, and why it’s our best friend and worst enemy at the same time on the data we feed it, writes Marcus Hunter Neill, founder of The U=Can Network, co-host of the Podcast ‘Dating Is Such a Drag!’ and the global Irish ambassador for MindValley. He works in global leadership and personal development, specialising as a whole life strategist.


Marcus Hunter Neill, founder of The U=Can Network

It’s honestly that simple. The day I realised I was enough, and no one can do it for me, was the day my life changed, and I became my own wingman in life. Here is some advice to help you.

Dance to your own beat

Ignore other people limiting expectations on your life as it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their mindset is fear, they fear they won’t succeed, so they are fear you won’t either! To save you the hurt, or the fact you might show them up by following your dreams and succeeding they project onto you that its better you don’t try! Always dance to the beat of your own drum and you will always find the right rhythm for you.

Setting a daily routine

I honestly can’t stress enough the importance of a good morning and evening routine; this helps set us up for the day and also calms the body’s nervous system to relax us into deep sleep. It’s as simple as setting up your coffee pot, planning your breakfast, organise your work bag and leave it with your keys at the door. Leave out your clothes the night before will help create a sense of calm. When you wake up everything is to hand and your morning becomes much smoother, and you fall sleep knowing you are sorted. This helps you relaxes and calms the mind because it’s not trying to think what I need to do now or what have I to do in the morning.

Train your brain with positive thoughts

While you are falling asleep, think of all the things that were brilliant about the day, what you have achieved, and five things you are grateful for. Before you open your eyes think of things that you are grateful for in your life be it big or small, and what we are looking forward to that day. Doing this morning and night helps the brain to reprogram the hardwiring software we have built over years that’s holding us back and creates new neurological pathways that serve us and lifts our vibrational energy to give us more of lives rich tapestries, in wellness, happiness and contentment.

Getting in the right vibration

When you start operating in a high-quality personal vibration (there is a whole science around why this works and how it works such as quantum physics, but I only have limited word count so please trust me when I say this) raising your own personal frequency will raise every aspect in your life, from love, relationships, career, finances, happiness and overall loving the life you’re living. Any one of these topics I go deep into in a lot of the work that I do if I’m coaching one-on-one. At an individual level when we are aligned wholeheartedly with ourselves, our goals and have our own backs, we write our own ticket for whatever we want in life.

I would love one of my big takeaways for anyone reading this to be… you’ve got this! Give yourself a break, you’re doing the very best that you can do right now armed with the information and knowledge that you’ve got, self-improvement and mindset leads to peace of mind and builds a strong mental health muscle, all of the above will help train your brain to become the Arnold Schwarzenegger of mental health wellness.

If you’re struggling with parenting

Leigh Carey, CEO of the Hummingbird Project in Portstewart; leads a team of mental health experts, all of whom use their own lived experience of mental ill health to help others develop coping strategies and build resilience.

Board an airplane and the flight attendant will instruct you to ‘put your oxygen mask on first’ before helping others. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival? It’s because, if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else.


Leigh Carey, CEO of the Hummingbird Project

And, so it is with parenting.

It means putting your own mental health first, protecting, nurturing and being mindful of your own peace of mind to ensure you are emotionally fit to support your children, partner and wider family.

Prioritising yourself means staying true to who you are, still doing the things you like to do and staying socially connected with friends and family. It’s so easy to get absorbed in childcare, you lose all sense of yourself.

By practicing self-care, what you are actually doing is modelling that for your child. They are little sponges absorbing and mimicking everything going on around them.

It’s not selfish to take time out or have your own space from time to time because this is teaching them, it is a healthy thing to do. They also need time and space to decompress and recharge their ‘social batteries’ away from hectic school routines and outside activities.

Children pick up on cues so easily. If you are stressed, they will feel your anxiety but if they know you are OK, they will be calm and relax more. It’s important to manage your own energy around them.

I like to pick a time in the day, usually during the school run, to communicate and find out what’s going on with my child.

I ask about her day, let her speak and actively listen. This is about being present, carving out precious time and allowing your child to feel both heard and valued. In this space children are likely to tell you more and where you get to connect on a one-to-one basis.

It’s also important to develop your child’s emotional independence. That means having other people in their circle to rely on for support beyond just you. It’s not always possible for you to be there to soothe them so it’s important they have a wider circle where they can find comfort and safety when required.

With children and young people, boundaries and routine are the pillars of building and maintaining good mental health. They like to know where they are going and what they are doing. We’ve all experienced those summer meltdowns when school is out, and daily structures have been relaxed and exhaustion kicks in.

Bedtime routines are particularly important. Developing good sleep hygiene from an early age is worth the investment. Establishing the same processes every night, bath, book and bed or whatever system suits your household best promotes repairing and restful sleep.

As with everything in life, good communication is key. If you want your child to go to bed on time, or even if they are a fussy eater, keep the dialogue open. Give them countdowns, half an hour, ten minutes to go. At mealtimes increase their options.

It’s a conversation not a battle ground. It’s about choice, not control.

Allow them to feel they have a say in the decisions you are making and seek their agreement.

Once you have their trust and buy in, they might just try a little of the nutritious food you’d like them to eat or go to bed with less resistance.

If you’re worried about finances

Living through a pandemic and now facing the cost-of-living crisis everyone is feeling the pinch financially and some are feeling more anxious about the future and how it will impact our lives.

Our emotions and personal finances are often intrinsically linked, and this is especially true where debt is concerned. Debt problems are commonly associated with anxiety and depression. Anyone dealing with debt should know that they are not alone.

It is normal to feel nervous, embarrassed, or overwhelmed when discussing your debts but tackling the issue and taking action sooner could positively help your financial situation and help improve your mental well-being too.

Being in debt can be stressful but there may be solutions and options to help deal with it. With this in mind, Advice NI has compiled a list of some of the best ways to protect your mental health when dealing with debt.

Seek expert advice

If you are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to deal with your debts, then it is never too late to seek debt advice. A professional debt adviser is non-judgemental. It is their job is to assist you in overcoming your situation and empower you to take control of your finances once again.

Speak to your lender/utility company

If you are struggling to repay your debt, then you should speak to your lender as soon as possible as they have a duty to treat you fairly. They may offer you a number of options to help your situation. If this is too daunting for you, then a debt adviser can negotiate on your behalf.

Discuss any extra support needs you may have

If you have any extra support needs that affect your ability to deal with your finances then it would be important to let your lender know, so they can adjust how they deal with you and your case. For example, if you have extra communication needs, a mental health issue, or learning difficulty most lenders now have specialist teams to support you when you are dealing with them. Lenders have guidance on how they can fully support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for it.


Creating a budget may seem useless if you have little to no money but working out where you are spending your money may be useful to see how much you could afford to pay towards your debts and if there are things you could cut back on.


If you need to borrow credit, make sure you are able to pay it back. Do some research and shop around for the cheapest deals. The Consumer Council has information on alternative lending providers, Also, it is important to check if you are able to access any financial help through the government, benevolent societies or charities. Advice NI advisers can assist with this.

Benefit check

Have a benefit entitlement check carried out to ensure you are receiving the right benefits at the correct rates. Also, check you are getting all the cost-of-living help that the government has recently announced.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Advice NI and its members can provide free & confidential advice to help you to deal with your debt.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you are not alone. For free and confidential advice, freephone: 0800 915 4604; email: [email protected] or webchat:

Become a goal setter

Very often we can get bogged down in the day-to-day challenges that life can bring, writes Siobhan Kearney, Founder of At One Wellbeing.


Siobhan Kearney, Founder of At One Wellbeing

We go through our days and months with a lack of direction and purpose and that can make us feel dissatisfied and dull. And especially when the weather is changing, and the evenings are getting darker this can feel even worse. But the good news is that we can help ourselves to get out of the doldrums by setting some goals — whether that is to do more, get out more, feel more productive and generally have a real sense of wellbeing.

1. When setting goals for us it is important that we are realistic, there is no point setting unachievable goals as this will lead to a sense of failure. If the goal is to do more exercise, for example, start small. And do something that you can measure at the end of the week. If you walk a mile every day or reduce your time scrolling through social media, give yourself a pat on the back when you have achieved it.

2. Think about the why, and the when. Is this goal important to you, what is driving you to do it and when do you plan to start? Drilling down into the “why” of your goals is important as it can motivate you to get started. But a goal will always be a goal until you put a plan in place. Write it down and set some milestones. Only look back to see how far you have come, celebrate marginal gains and build in a reward. If you are getting it tough, then talk to a friend or have someone to hold you accountable.

3. Goal directed behaviour is more likely to help you make the changes you want to make. And this is good for your mental health and wellbeing as well.

4. You could try setting some goals around the 5 Steps to Wellbeing, the most evidence-based way to maintain positive mental health and build resilience to poor mental health.

5. Being more active, taking notice of the beauty of your surroundings, giving you time to others and not ever forgetting to give yourself space and time, connect with people who give you joy and keep learning — try one or all of these every day and see if you feel more positive and energised.

There is so much you can do to improve your wellbeing. The key is to get started. Today sounds good to me!

If you feel overwhelmed by social media

Research published in January 2022 indicates 84% of the UK population use social media with the average person spending 1 hour and 48 minutes accessing it daily, writes Ashleigh Watson, owner of Copper Square Communications, social media consultant and the founder of annual conference Social Media Savvy.


Ashleigh Watson, owner of Copper Square Communications

With more choice than ever before, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok it can be overwhelming.

Social mcan be a great tool to keep us connected with friends and family, the brands we love, what’s happening in our local community and the world beyond without ever having to leave the sofa.

We can find new places to visit and explore, discover new ideas and concepts. Think recipes, exercise routines, the latest hack to save money, the benefits go on.

But it can also be a dark place too; the recent case of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 14-year-old Molly Russell bringing the dangers of social media into sharp focus.

The constant stream of content (good and bad), the instant “hit” of dopamine and gratification prompting people to constantly refresh their newsfeeds.

The self-judgment that comes with a lack of likes causing negative thoughts, social anxiety and worry that you’re not just as popular as everyone else, not to mention nasty comments and opinions and a feeling of always having to be “on” showcasing your best life.

What does that even mean? In the real world that could mean finding balance in life, reaching a heightened state of calm and serenity. On Instagram, for example, it is often something different. A selfie pout, a holiday in far off places, a great meal, cocktails!

Appearances can be deceptive though. It can be so easy to think others are more beautiful, better off, have more exciting lives when that is rarely the case.

Following are five tips to help you reclaim some social media sanity:

• Remember social media isn’t always a true representation of what is really going on. Your life, feelings and opinions are just as valid as anyone else

• Set a time limit. Take a break from scrolling. Reducing time spent on social media allows you to focus on other things you enjoy and gives perspective

• Pause before you post. Your actions have consequences. Comments and posts leave a digital footprint. Would you want your employer to read them? Think of the consequences of your content. Are you breaking rules or policies, how will it impact on other people?

• Turn off notifications to reduce pressure and take back control

• Encourage young people to take a break, engage in other activities, monitor the content they are consuming especially if they become withdrawn or there are mood changes.

How to use social media wisely

Follow people whose content brings you joy, makes you smile, helps you learn or just feel better in general, writes PR and marketing expert, Cathy Martin.

Delete or unfollow accounts which make you feel unworthy, not ‘enough’ or, give you those palpitations of anxiety that you’re not ‘keeping up’.

Take breaks. From an ophthalmic point of view, we should definitely be giving our eyes a break, but we also need to consider our minds. Personally, I set an hourly or two-hourly timer and get away from my desk and my phone to take a breather, grab a drink, take a walk or — if I’m at home — put on a wash, zone out with some cat or doggy cuddles or something totally non-work related.

Have a go! Not everyone advises this, but I usually suggest that instead of just passively consuming content, try to make some instead. If you’re prepared to have a bit of a laugh at yourself and the (at times) ridiculousness of it all, this can be very refreshing. (And in fact, this kind of amateur, raw content is what loads of people – including small business owners, CEOs, students and people just like you — can relate to; remember you’re not alone!).