Supporting yourself during difficult times can be overwhelming, on top of maintaining your job or looking after your loved ones. Taking care of your mental health should be second nature and not something you consider after suffering from a health calamity. Unfortunately, those who struggle with dwindling mental health fail to recognize how it impacts them and those around them.
While there has been some progress in destigmatizing mental health, many people don’t know how to become mentally fit. Everyone loves talking about self-love and self-care, but very few practice it. Also, working on your mental health shouldn’t be a luxury expense. Though there are pricey ways of taking care, you can go old-school with these ten tips to improve your mental health.
1. Focus on the Present
Not too deep into the past or ahead into the future; focus on the now. When you dwell on the past, it becomes difficult to acknowledge what you have in the present. Similarly, planning for the future or overthinking what you don’t have control over makes you anxious and feel less grateful about what you have in the present. While introspection is good for not repeating the same mistakes, complaining about the past takes attention away from the present.
2. Seek Support
Engaging in a community with whom you can relate feels less isolating and helps you recover. Support groups and community circles are common ways of improving your mental health. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one or addiction recovery, support centers like the Delphi Health Group help enormously with building connections and moving forward. With therapy sessions or guided community activities, you can work with people you share goals and struggles with.
3. Maintain a Balanced Diet
Treating each day as a cheat day and snacking every two hours may satiate your taste buds for now, but years down the line, you’ll realize how damaging it is for your mental and physical health. The deficiency of nutrients like vitamin B1, magnesium, zinc, and iron correlates with depressive and anxiety disorders. Moreover, a diet high in sugars and carbohydrates increases the likelihood of depression, according to research at Columbia University. Therefore, a portioned diet of protein, vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy fats is necessary for improving your mental health.
4. Get Therapy
Although not applicable to everyone, psychological therapy has drastically improved mental health for many. Specifically, psychoanalytical therapy allows you to discuss the “hard-to-say things” with a licensed professional without judgment. Of course, therapy won’t magically solve your problems, but you get to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with complex issues and making a better sense of your surroundings. A lot of support centers offer one-on-one therapy and counseling services as well.
5. Building Meaningful Relationships and Connections
Being mentally fit qualifies as having healthy and meaningful relationships. You cannot expect yourself to grow in an environment that is not conducive to your mental health. Toxic friends and family members that push you to engage in the wrong or are not supportive of your journey should not invade your space. Mental clarity and peace come from positive and healthy connections that allow you to become an improved version of yourself. End toxic relationships and connections that make you feel insecure or infringe upon your mental peace.
6. Fix your Sleep Cycle
According to a Harvard study, there is a strong correlation between sleep disorders like insomnia and certain psychiatric illnesses. In addition, lack of sleep can lead to physical health issues like obesity and hormonal imbalance. Both of which tend to cause mood disruption and meddle with your cognition. Sleeping eight to nine hours every night is good for maintaining focus, reducing stress and fatigue, and improving your overall mental health. A healthy sleep cycle also deters the risk of developing psychological disorders.
7. Exercise Regularly
Exercise helps sweat out toxins and boosts your mood and cognition, making you more alert. Exercise is also essential for maintaining cardiovascular health, which, if not looked after, can adversely impact your overall health. You don’t have to run 5 miles daily; even a 20-minute walk around the block, five times a week, is enough. During exercise, releasing brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins helps you feel better. Exercise is also suitable for releasing frustrations and reducing your stress levels. If you prefer going to the gym or having a walking buddy, it’s also an excellent opportunity for social interaction.
8. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude isn’t just for acknowledging your blessings but helps improve your mood. Those who express gratitude regularly are more likely to stay optimistic about life. Living in a fast-paced world can make you feel like you don’t have enough – things, money, friends, or opportunities. Practicing gratitude can help you be thankful for what you have and focus on the now instead of worrying about what you don’t have. As a result, you would feel less stressed, have better social connections and be more engaged in other activities like eating well or working out regularly. A simple way of doing so is to enlist three things you’re grateful for daily.
Similar to exercising to release frustrations, journaling is highly beneficial for the mind. It’s normal to feel burdened by life’s fears and problems and get overwhelmed with negative thoughts. Sometimes, getting therapy or talking to someone about what you’re going through is not feasible. In those moments, journaling helps release your frustrations. There are many forms of journaling that you can try to improve your mental health, like morning pages, using a guided journal with pre-made prompts. Journaling helps gain a sense of self and rationalize what you are feeling. It’s also a great way to let out pent-up emotions.
10. Meditation and Breathwork
Akin to exercise and journaling, meditation and breathwork are immensely helpful for reducing stress and staying relaxed. Meditation helps you align your focus with what’s important right now and reduce congestion in your brain. With focused breathing exercises, you can train your mind to focus on the present and let thoughts go by without giving too much attention to what doesn’t matter. Breathing exercises are also helpful in deterring a panic or anxiety attack as they divert attention from the stressor.
The tips mentioned above make it easy to improve your mental health without breaking the bank. Though some mental health issues require medical attention, it is easy to incorporate these tips for effective treatment.