Like basic needs, your mental health is essential to your life and how you achieve your goals. It’s time we all started giving it the attention it deserves! A calm, healthy and composed mind is key as you take on life’s challenges.
Though it’s common to focus on achieving optimal physical health, possessing good mental health is just as important to our overall well-being. Mental health is the foundation of a healthy life, because it shapes how you experience everything from daily tasks to physical ailments. In fact, studies show there may be links between mental health and heart disease.
Drink a Little Less
Although the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as up to four daily alcoholic drinks for men and three for women, new research suggests that, at these levels, adults are exposed to harms including physical and mental illness. Regardless if you’ve never been someone with a drinking problem, you may improve your mental well-being by reducing the amount of alcohol you consume. Try substituting your drinks for non-alcoholic options like smoothies or virgin frozen drinks.
Are you still smoking cigarettes? What about consuming alcohol? If you are, do what you have to do to quit. Either of these vices can give you short-term pleasure, but they do serious damage to your overall mental health. Excessive drinking can actually boost stress and may lead to depression, and smoking can increase tension.
Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, meditation can be an effective, joyful way to minimize stress and improve your mental health. Whether you choose to follow an in-person guide at a class or workshop, or download an app on your phone, there are many resources that can train you to relax and breathe in this mindful way.
Do you lead a busy professional life? How about at home — do you have kids? In today’s day and age it’s easy to feel like you’ve got no time to yourself, but it’s there — you just have to commit to it. Even if you can squeeze in just 30 minutes of alone time in which you listen to music or watch TV at the end of the day, your mind can benefit a great deal.
Reach Out to Your Doctor
Are you having trouble with your memory? Do you sleep well but feel unrested in the morning? Alternatively, do you find it difficult to stop your racing thoughts at night so you can get to sleep? All of these signs could be related to a mental health conditions, but importantly they could all be related to easily correctable nutritional deficiencies. The first step to getting better is getting a correct diagnosis that can lead to targeted, personalized and effective treatment. The person in the best position to help you with this is your primary care provider. If you don’t have one, find one.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help if you’re worried about your mental health, and it doesn’t necessarily have to involve a professional service — although that might be a good idea if you believe your condition is serious. Reach out to friends or family members and simply tell them you haven’t been feeling well. Open up an honest line of communication and you’re sure to find ways to alleviate the problems.
Make New Memories
Take the opportunity to do something you’ve never done before. If there are activities on your bucket list like hiking, skiing or horseback riding in the Caribbean, begin to research the most cost-effective way to bring these experiences to life. Research shows that experiences lead to greater sustained positive feelings than possessions. Also, consider including a friend on the adventure. Experiences are much more valuable when they’re done with someone you love.
Consider What You’re Consuming
One element that can contribute to poor mental health is the lack of nutrition your body gets by depriving it of healthy foods. Instead of opting for processed or junk foods, focus on more natural choices. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts an all contribute to a better lifestyle that promotes positive mental health.
Many people spend an average of nine hours a day using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter viewing photos and imagining the “better life” they aren’t living. Excess use of social media causes people to consume and implicitly compare themselves to others. Studies have shown that individuals who spend a significant amount of time on social media report feelings of increased anxiety and low self-esteem. When you’re in a deep scroll, consider that social media feeds are carefully and selectively curated by people for the world to see, people are not always who they “post-to-be.” Their reality rarely shows up on their timeline. The life you have may be as good as or better than the ones you’re fantasizing about.
Hear Something Good, Do Something Great
Each day, approximately 3 million people tune into morning radio’s Bobby Bones Show produced by Raymond Slater. The show’s most popular segment “Tell Me Something Good” shares three positive stories of everyday people doing amazing things to help others. As Slater says: “It’s incredible to hear how much joy our listeners have when sharing their stories of helping other people.” Does helping others help you de-stress? Don’t stay on the sidelines; research volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Volunteering has been linked to reducing stress levels, as your time spent in service to others gives you a sense of meaning and appreciation.
One of the best ways to get out of your own headspace is to focus on others. Volunteering can be a powerful way to better your self-worth and truly make a difference in your community. Choose an activity or organization that aligns with your passions and offer your time. The satisfaction you’ll feel is immeasurable.
Volunteering your time can be a major boost to your self-esteem, plus you get that “feel good” emotion by helping out those in need. If you’re looking for opportunities to volunteer in your local community, use the website VolunteerMatch for guidance. There are many concrete benefits of giving back to the community, one of the least celebrated is the emotional health of the giver.
We all know the importance of maintaining good physical health — we’re bombarded daily with ads for exercise programs, diet plans, and blog posts on what to eat and drink and what vitamin supplements to take or avoid. What’s not as frequently addressed, however, is mental health — but it’s just as important.