How to Improve Your Mental Health
Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health
Just as we can take intentional steps to improve our physical health – such as exercising, drinking plenty of water, getting better sleep and eating a healthy diet – we can also take steps to improve our mental health. As we shared in a recent blog, mental health and physical health are dependent on each other in many ways, so it’s important to take care of both.
When we have good mental health, it doesn’t mean we’re always happy – but it does mean we are better able to cope with stress and have productive ways of viewing ourselves and the world. It means we are able to interact with others in a healthy and positive way and can recover smoothly from grief and disappointment. Good mental health helps us stay productive, have more energy and use our time more wisely, too.
Here are some ways you can start improving your mental health today:
Practice kindness and gratitude.
It sounds simple, but being kind to others, even in small ways, can help us feel better – and it’s even been proven. Acts of kindness can reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, while raising feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin. A simple smile or compliment, volunteering, forgiving a wrong, donating to a good cause or helping someone in need are all great ways to make yourself – and someone else – feel better.
Remember also to be grateful for what you have in your life. This often takes practice and intentional effort – such as writing in a gratitude journal. Remembering to have gratitude helps us to focus on the good things in life. We can even practice this in the midst of challenges by thinking of ways these challenges may ultimately strengthen us.
Balance disconnection and social connections.
Both finding some relaxing “me” time and time to share with supportive people in your life are important. Disconnecting from technology, schedules and even people from time to time can help you reset your mood and reduce stress levels. During this time, you can meditate, take a walk outside, or engage in a hobby or relaxation technique you enjoy. Just as important is strengthening good relationships with others who care for you, whether friends, family, or members of a support group or even hobby group. Having a regular time and day to both disconnect and to meet up with your support system can help make this kind of balance easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.
Sunny days are for more than Vitamin D. They’re also for boosting your mood and improving stress levels. Even a short recreational walk or taking a few extra steps by parking farther away from your destination can give you a much-needed boost of energy.
Take care of your body.
Eating right, getting exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep are incredibly effective ways you can take care of your body – and your mental health. When our bodies are healthy, they are better able to support good mental health, mood and energy. Strive to reduce sugar and saturated fats, eat a healthy diet with more fish, lean proteins and fruits and vegetables, keep a solid bedtime routine for better sleep, set aside time to exercise a few days a week and remember to drink water throughout the day. Even taking baby steps toward these ideals can pay off in improved mental health.
Be self-aware and self-accepting.
Everyone experiences ups and downs – but some people are better than others at coping with strong negative emotions. When you find yourself in the midst of a storm of negativity, take a moment to increase your awareness – of your thoughts, actions, reactions, as well as of the actual circumstances prompting your negative reactions. Take a moment to calm yourself and think through what happened and how you can react in a healthier way.
Additionally, accepting yourself, along with all your flaws, can boost your mental health. However, this doesn’t mean giving up on self-improvement. It means being more understanding and patient with yourself as you strive to become better. In this way, self-acceptance can actually help you overcome negative habits and behaviors because you give yourself permission to improve gradually.
Get professional help.
If you’re struggling with depression and other mental health issues, seeking out therapy services, whether in person or online, can be truly helpful. A qualified therapist can help you learn coping skills, retrain your brain to think more positively and get you staying positive. Your primary care physician can also provide you with strategies for improving mental health.
While rare, poor mental health can become an emergency, so if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, seek help right away. Call 911 or head to Avail Hospital for the compassionate care you need.