When it comes to our overall wellness, we tend to focus on the areas that directly affect our day-to-day responsibilities and commitments. We all know what we have to do in order to maintain our physical well-being. If we fail to do so, the consequences are obvious and come with undesired symptoms or limitations. If our physical health is not up to par, most people would address the issue and seek intervention. Furthermore, keeping up with your physical well-being is encouraged with routine examinations, preventative care, and treatment.
Many people fail to realize that optimal wellness comprises all elements of their livelihood, including mental health. Someone who is mentally sound is able to maintain healthy relationships, cope with life stressors, be a productive member of society and have good self-awareness. Mental balance is important for our overall well-being. Without mental soundness, we will have difficulty in many aspects of our daily lives from work to our social relationships.
Mental illness is very common in society. Despite popular belief, all mental health conditions do not look the same. Whether we realized it or not, at some point, we’ve all encountered an individual with a mental health condition. In fact, in the United States, more than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime.
Neglecting your mental health, while likely unintentional, can consequently lead to a steady decline over time. It is important to prioritize your mental health in order to achieve complete balance in your life. Here are 10 things you can do for your mental health:
- Take Care of Your Physical Well-Being
We all know the advantages of taking care of our bodies and what it takes to get there. A healthy body is a key component of maintaining a healthy mind. When you treat your body right, you’re essentially shaping your life in more ways than one by training your mind to make healthier choices overall.
A healthy diet nourishes every aspect of the body, including the mind. Certain foods have specific benefits that can improve your mental health. The variety of nutrients promote overall functioning and wellness. A balanced diet should include:
- Adequate amounts of water daily
- Carbohydrates in moderation
- Nuts, seeds and oily fish
- Dairy products
- Wholegrain products
- A variety of fruits and vegetables
Exercise can prevent illness and improve your physical health. Physical activity releases a chemical in the brain that can naturally combat negative effects such as depression and anxiety. The benefits of exercise on mental health include:
- Increased mental awareness and concentration
- Increased energy
- Improved sleep patterns
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced mood
A good night’s sleep sets the tone for your entire day. Adequate rest restores and recharges the body and mind. Losing out on sleep can result in the inability to function well throughout the day. A poor sleeping pattern and mental imbalance are linked. Sleep deprivation can impair thinking and emotional regulation as well as amplify psychiatric disorders.
- Keep Good Company
Having a strong support network can be beneficial when dealing with life stressors. Knowing that there are people who care for you can encourage positive thinking and emotions. Make it a point to stay connected with family and friends who value, love and respect you. It’s also a great idea to meet new people by becoming a member of a group, being active in your community or trying new activities.
A part of maintaining healthy relationships is showing others you care, too. Being able to support, encourage and inspire other people can boost your self-esteem and allow you to see your value. Helping others can have a positive emotional reward.
It’s important to be able to vet out relationships that are not good for you. Unhealthy relationships can be toxic for your mental wellness and result in maladaptive thinking and behavior. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every unhealthy relationship is going to be obvious to you. Sometimes, a toxic relationship can be in the form of someone who cannot offer or retrieve positive energy. Remember, you are the company you keep.
- Be Present
When the mind wanders and focuses on potential problems, it can be difficult to stay present and take it one day at a time. Allowing yourself to live in the moment removes the weight of dealing with challenging emotions and experiences. When we become too fixated on negative elements, we miss out on the opportunity to be grateful for all the positive aspects of our lives.
You can become more present by focusing on one thing at a time. When the mind wanders in multiple directions, you may find yourself becoming anxious and worried about the aspects of life that you can’t control. Allow yourself to embrace the small things and become fully aware of your surroundings. Get in tune with all five senses with each daily activity and use this as your baseline when the mind begins to drift off.
- Be Grateful
Expressing gratitude removes the focus from all the negative factors that may be heavy on the mind. It’s easy to forget all the things we are thankful for and take the good in our life for granted. People who show gratitude are more optimistic and better at dealing with stress. Furthermore, grateful people take better care of themselves, which promotes better health overall.
Dedicating a journal to help keep track of all you are grateful for is a good way to make this practice a habit. Even when your current circumstance isn’t favorable, routinely expressing your appreciation can help you to think more positively and handle life stressors with optimism.
- Find Ways to Cope with Stress
There are many adverse effects of stress that can be detrimental to both your physical and mental well-being. Unfortunately, stress is inevitable. However, altering the way life stressors are handled can make a difference. People who are unable to cope with emotions often find negative outlets that lead to maladaptive behaviors. Being able to manage stress can lead to a happier life that is ultimately healthier.
The best way to cope with stress is by finding healthy strategies and activities. Below are a few tips for managing stress:
- Use relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
- Set aside time for hobbies and activities.
- Separate circumstances that you have no control over.
- Learn how to remove unnecessary stress in your life.
- Reach out to others for emotional support.
- Abstain from Substances
Mental health and the use of substances can occur simultaneously for reasons such as:
- Illegal drugs can result in an individual experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder.
- People with mental health disorders tend to use substances as a way to self-medicate.
- Mental and substance use disorders may share underlying causes.
Mental health conditions and the use of substances can exacerbate symptoms, which makes treatment efforts more difficult. Even for the general population, turning to alcohol and drugs during stressful situations is not an uncommon habit. For the sake of mental wellness, it is recommended that alcohol is reduced and drugs are avoided since they don’t resolve life stressors or provide long-standing relief of mental health conditions.
- Find Spiritual Balance
Maintaining spiritual balance can be beneficial for your mental health. Meditation does for the brain what exercise does for the body. The goal of meditation is to find inner peace by using relaxation as a technique. Transitioning into deep thoughts allows the mind to focus and filter out negative thoughts for the duration of the session and beyond. A relaxed and focused mind can change your perspective and outlook on life. Even meditating for a brief period of time can reap benefits.
Prayer is another spiritual practice that can help regulate emotions. For many people, praying to a higher being establishes a connection that offers emotional solace. Having spiritual awareness silences a busy mind, enhances self-awareness, promotes concentration and reduces stress.
- Set Goals That Are Realistic
For many people, a part of our brain focuses on the future and reaching the desired goal. We can face emotional distress when tomorrow seems uncertain or we’re not achieving our goals quick enough. In some cases, those goals may be too high or unreasonable. Setting goals that are realistic will allow us to not only reach those goals quicker but also train our mind into believing that with focus, they are sustainable.
Setting reasonable objectives starts with knowing what you want in the long run and creating short-term goals that will ultimately lead you there. When you are able to tackle those short-term aims, you will feel a sense of accomplishment, which will benefit your mental health.
Another benefit of establishing goals and mental well-being is that your achievements provide you with a sense of self-worth and satisfaction. Even accomplishing small goals can prepare your mind to achieve future victories. Furthermore, by setting realistic goals, you’re able to isolate the aspects of your life that are most important to you.
- Break Up Habits and Routines
Habits and routines can bring us security, comfort and a sense of efficiency, but this is most effective when we have mental balance. Monotony and routines can keep our minds stagnant and focused on aspects that are not fulfilling or positive. These patterns could lead us to think that our negative thoughts are the norm.
In order to get out of creating habits and routines that recycle negative thoughts and feelings, you may want to consider trying new activities and hobbies. Perhaps, spending time outdoors and embracing nature can give you a fresh outlook. Exploring places you’ve never been can enhance your mood and give you new ideas for activities in the future.
- Seek Help When Necessary
One of the most important things to do for your mental health is to seek treatment if the signs and symptoms are there. Mental health conditions that go untreated can have adverse consequences in the long run. Here are some signs of possible mental health concerns:
- Fixation on fears
- Excessive worrying
- Suicide ideation
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Episodes of delusion or hallucinations
- Withdrawing from friends, family, and social events
- Inability to concentrate
- Feelings of sadness
- Extreme mood changes
- Prolonged feelings of anger
- Excessive use of substances
Due to stigmas and the stereotypes associated with mental illness, many people avoid seeking help. In fact, in the United States, only 41 percent of people with mental health conditions sought treatment in the past year. It’s important to remember that the mind has a huge impact on your life on a daily basis. Neglecting the importance of mental wellness will eventually affect all aspects of your life.
There are many resources and programs that can assist you in finding the right professionals and treatment if necessary. However, it’s imperative that you recognize the signs and symptoms that may suggest the need for intervention.