From the day you’re born, you’re taught to care for your physical health. You go to the doctor for routine check-ups, you eat nutritious food, and you exercise your body. But rarely (if ever) do people talk about your mental health. What could you be doing to care for your emotional, psychological, and social well-being?
Your mental health impacts the way you feel, think, act, make choices, and relate to others. Often, people notice their mental health when they begin to experience mental illness. Yet, this shouldn’t be the time when we talk about mental health the most. Mental health must be an ongoing conversation. Here are 7 ways you can care for your mental health.
Take care of your body
Yes, sometimes your mental health starts with your physical health! Research has shown that people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional well-being. When you exercise, sleep well, and eat right, you flood your body with positive vitamins and chemicals that boost your mood. Here are some steps you can take in daily life to make sure your body feels good.
- Exercise regularly — 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for 3-5 days a week can significantly improve depression or anxiety symptoms
- Eat nutritious meals — a healthy diet means fewer mood fluctuations, a happier outlook on life, and an improved ability to focus
- Drink plenty of water — drinking more water lowers your risk of anxiety and depression
- Avoid smoking or vaping — smoking worsens symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Get enough sleep — poor sleep can activate anxiety in high-risk individuals and poor sleep can result because of anxiety
Caring for your body physically is a critical component of mental health. If you’re struggling to keep your life together, remember that fueling your body, exercising regularly, and sleeping on a normal schedule can help you feel better in all aspects.
Surround yourself with your people
You can boost your mental health by simply having a strong support system. If you feel your mood dipping, make social plans with friends or family members. Here are a few simple ways to do this if you’re feeling some social anxiety.
- Plan on a coffee date
- Get your nails done
- Go for a bike ride or hike
- See a movie
- Visit the park or beach
- Enjoy a picnic
- Bake together
- Eat at a restaurant
- Volunteer together
- Attend a concert
It can be nerve-wracking to ask someone to do something, especially for the first time. Once you break through that barrier, however, it only gets easier.
Volunteer your time and energy
Sometimes we’re so consumed by our own lives that we forget how many people we can help. Volunteering can help reduce stress and increase positive, relaxed feelings by releasing dopamine. You’re likely to walk away from your time serving others with a sense of meaning and appreciation. You’ve given to others and received a sense of satisfaction in doing so.
Learn healthy coping mechanisms
A coping mechanism is a strategy that people use in the face of stress and/or trauma to help manage painful or difficult emotions. Often, we aren’t taught healthy coping mechanisms that allow us to deal with stress or anxiety. Instead, we adopt destructive coping mechanisms where the behavior doesn’t resolve the problem in the long term and instead increases the harm.
Instead, you’ll want to learn healthy coping mechanisms that lead to the problem being resolved or dealt with in a way that reduces harm or stress. Some healthy coping mechanisms include:
- Going for a walk
- Mindfulness relaxation and meditation
- Eating healthy snacks instead of junk food
- Reaching out and talking about worries with a friend or family member
- Taking downtime for yourself
- Discussing problems with a professional
Avoid alcohol and other drugs
Above, we discussed health coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs are often unhealthy coping mechanisms that people turn to when they want to self-medicate. These are widely available substances that can help people temporarily forget problems or help them feel an escape.
You may find, however, that the more you drink or use drugs that the worse your problems become. Drinking or using won’t address the root issue of what you feel or alleviate poor mental health symptoms.
Each one of us has mental health. Your mental health isn’t the absence of mental illness. It’s something you should cultivate daily through self-care. In difficult times, use the list above to care for your mental health, understand what triggers symptoms, and use positive coping techniques for the best results.
If you’re suffering from a mental disorder and need more sustain help, visit here. Complete Healthcare is here to support the Columbus, Ohio area.