Your mental health is as important as your physical health. It affects your everyday life. The right mental state can boost your mood, help you maintain an emotional balance and handle stress more effectively. Let’s explore several strategies for boosting your mental health.
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What is "Mental Health"?
Mental health is the collective name for your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It comprises how one thinks, feels, acts, makes choices, and handles stress. In a social setting, mental health relates to how one interacts with others.
Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Your experience in your past influences your decisions that affects your future. So a careful approach to mental health is imperative for a peaceful and successful future.
Positive Mental Health
Studies show that those who actively try to maintain a positive mindset and control their anxiety and emotions and report the following benefits of their approach to mental health –
- Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
- Contentment with life
- The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
- A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
- The willingness and flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.
- A balance in life – between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
- A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
- The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
Whether your mental state is temporary or persists over several months, there are steps you can take to address your challenges.
Steps You Can Take Today to Improve Mental Health
Having balanced mental health doesn’t guarantee a worry-free life or prevent emotional downturns. Just as how physically healthy people are better able to live through illness or bounce back from injury, people with strong mental health are better able to manage stress, adversity, trauma, and other emotional states. This resilience needs to be built over time. The following can help you develop a stronger mental state.
You are NOT ALONE
The first thing to remember is: you are NOT ALONE. Everyone goes through mental health challenges. Accept the change. Without this self realization, any attempts to help yourself will be ineffective. Medication may not be the solution. In most cases, medication does not solve the underlying problem.
Talk to a Professional
Second, try to talk to someone to talk about what you are going through. There are benefits to talking with a mental health professional. They can help you empower with fresh insights about your life, and help you develop coping strategies to manage distress.
Even if you don’t feel like talking to a therapist, talk with a friend or loved one. A person with a personal history can help you identify the issue bothering you, and help you make some decisions about the next steps. Also, the personal connection has shown to boost the mood, lighten any emotional weight you might be carrying, and help in overall stress relief and anxiety.
Joining local activity groups can also help by presenting a chance to meet people with similar interests.
Lifting weights can help with blood flow and the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Having a regular workout regimen can help you build this mental resilience.
Fourth, try to manage your stress. This is easier said than done, but try to manage what YOU CAN CONTROL.
For example, make your YOUR TIME a priority. This can be a time when you focus on your hobbies or workout. Read or dance. This is critical to separating your mind and your environment other thoughts that may control your mood.
Listen to your favorite music in times of stress. Music helps you lower your heart rate and cortisol levels, release endorphins, improve your sense of well-being, and distract you, The impact of music can reduce physical and emotional stress levels.
Contemplate and appreciate – Instead of focusing on the problems you face. Try to think about the things for which you’re grateful . Enjoy the simple things such as a sunset, a bee buzzing around a flower, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day. Meditating and praying also helps you to slowly be in the “Zen” zone and helps with mental health.
Fifth, eat right for a better mood. “You are what you eat” is a famous saying for a reason. Eating food that cause inflammation can put undue stress on your mental state. Replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” can be a step towards a stronger mind. Also foods such as coffee, alcohol, fried, refined, and sugary foods and anything with “artificial” ingredients can cause adverse moods. While natural foods such as avocados, flaxseeds, beans, and fresh fruits and vegetables to calm the mind.
Six, get enough sleep. 7 hours of sleep for adults is recommended in studies. Lack of sleep results in difficulty concentrating, decline in mood, and visible signs of fatigue. In the long term, this results in cognitive decline, mental fatigue, depression, anxiety, and even heightened risk of dementia.
Whatever your mental health obstacles, there are steps you can take to improve the way you feel and experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Start by trying some of these above points.
Mental Health Tips for Winter
The absence of sunlight is one of the biggest drawbacks of winter. The sun has a big impact on our mental health as the sunlight helps the body release a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. (Sunlight is also crucial in helping the body produce Vitamin D3, which is crucial for bone density and bone health).
The days are shorter, and with our current lifestyle and work timings, the chance to get direct sunlight is less. But there are steps to keep your mental health under check
Spend Time Outside/ Outdoors
Whether you go outside for a full-on cardio session or just for a short walk through nature, sunlight and the winter air might be just what the body needs to rebalance and get the benefits of fresh air, sunlight and nature.
Hydrate Your Body
The winter air can act like a moisture vacuum placed on your skin. In combination with indoor heaters this can make your skin, and your body, dehydrated. Make sure to drink enough water and use lotion and moisturizer to hydrate those dry, flaky areas.
Let There Be Light
Winter weather may cause many people to experience a condition that mimics the symptoms of depression due to the lack of sunlight and vitamin D, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), . To combat SAD, talk to your healthcare provider and take a vitamin D supplement (if recommended) or try light therapy.
Move Your Body
As we all know, exercise is important year-round—especially during winter. Exercising in colder temperatures can actually torch more calories than normal. But if hypothermia-inducing cardio isn’t your cup of tea, try exercising indoors. There are many indoor workouts you can do in your living room.
Surround Yourself With Good People
The winter holidays gives you more time to plan occasions with family and friends. Or maybe take a trip with your dogs? Whatever you choose, be sure to prioritize quality time with people that bring you joy.
Pursue Your Passion
Winter can be a great time to slow down and pursue new hobbies and discover the things that you enjoy. Whatever you’re interested in, whether it’s painting, music, or something else entirely, invest time in it.
Mental Health Best Practices
So what are some best practices to follow to maintain or improve your mental health?
Deep breaths – Take deep breaths whenever you feel stressed. This helps you bring your heart rate down, and the increase blood flow helps you think clearly.
Focus on the positives – in spite of all the negative news and things not going according to plan, focus on what IS going according to plan, and the small joys you get. This helps you focus on what is important and how can prioritize.
Exercise – Or some sort of physical activity. Try going for a short walk during lunch time. Go to your local park or trails.
Eat Right – Eat comfort foods, but not junk foods. A cup of hot chocolate can elevate your mood immediately. A bowl of fruits with honey will fill you up, make you feel lighter, and improve your mood better than fries or donuts.
Slow down – take your time, both at work and in your personal life. Slowing down gives you more room to work with and helps you make less mistakes. Always remember that other people’s urgency is NOT your priority, most of the time.
The Past, Present, and Future
The past is done. Try to learn from it in the present as you plan your future. Whatever stress you were under, you are now able to control it better. If you underwent an emotional phase, you have now learnt how to cope with it and move on. “Progress is Achievement” is something you can learn to live by, where even small steps can help you lead the way to a better mind set and mental health. Take that first walk, where you are walking for yourself. Take that first deep breath, just paying attention to the good things in life. Only you can help yourself, even if that means you reaching out to others!