Good mental health is just as important as physical health, but it’s not always something we focus on. We’re so busy with work, family, and other daily responsibilities that our mental health often takes a back seat to everything else, but taking care of our emotional health is critical to living a healthy life. Learn how to improve mental health and reap the many benefits!
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is social, psychological, and emotional well-being. Being in a good state of mental health means that you can think clearly, solve problems and get through the day without anxiety, depression, or other conditions interfering with your activities or interpersonal relationships.
Mental health is different from mental illness. For example, an anxiety disorder is a diagnosed mental illness that can cause panic attacks or phobias. (Similarly, clinical depression leads to low self-esteem or feelings of hopelessness.) By comparison, people can experience mild symptoms of both anxiety or depression, but that doesn’t mean they have a disorder.
However, it’s important to know that you don’t need to have a mental illness to improve your mental health. Practicing self-care is essential in achieving better overall mental health and can easily be incorporated into daily life.
Taking care of your mental health is an important part of a happy life. It’s also something that can be difficult to do, especially if you don’t know where to start. Self-care is one of the best ways to get on the road to better mental health.
It can take someone months or years to determine the most effective self-care rituals. However, some tips are universal, helping people throughout the world improve their mental health on a daily basis.
What Is Self-Care?
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability.”
Self-care looks different for everyone; what someone finds helpful might not be beneficial for somebody else. Self-care can be a variety of different things, from limiting screen time to running a mile every morning. Anything that helps improve your physical, emotional, or mental health can be considered self-care.
Take a Break From Social Media
Many people eliminate social media and other online platforms to focus on their mental health. While the goal of social media is to connect with friends and family, it can also cause stress and negative thoughts about oneself or others.
People struggling with issues in their own lives look at other social media pages and get a false sense of other people’s well-being since posts shared on social media are specifically chosen to portray an image (and don’t give an exact representation of that person’s real life).
While social connection is important, taking a break from social media allows you to remove distractions and focus on your own life. Even turning off your device or silencing notifications for an hour a day can help your mental health!
Try Deep Breathing Exercises
When anxious feelings take over, deep breathing exercises often make a big difference. Deep breathing supports your body by taking in more oxygen, effectively lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
The next time you’re in a stressful situation, try this deep breathing exercise:
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Breathe out for a count of four.
- Repeat four times (or as needed).
Surround Yourself With Positive People
Humans are social creatures. We thrive on personal connection and face-to-face interactions (which is why support groups are so effective). Because of this social connection, our moods and emotions often reflect those around us.
If you surround yourself with people who remain positive, it will ultimately lift your own mood. Conversely, if you only spend time with negative people, your own mood will follow suit. Spend your time with those who are supportive, honest, and loyal.
Regular Exercise and Physical Activity
As you can imagine, your physical health and mental health are strongly connected. Good physical health is a great way to improve your mental well-being — and that can be achieved with regular exercise.
Physical activity releases endorphins in your brain, improving your mood. Ultimately, if you feel good inside your body, your mind feels good, too.
Eat a Balanced Diet
As mentioned in the previous section, good physical health, which includes the food you’re putting into your body, is one of the best ways to improve your overall mental health.
By eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’re giving your body the nutrients needed to stay healthy. It’s not about losing or gaining weight; it’s about providing your body with the nutrients needed to thrive.
Spend Time With Loved Ones
Spending time with the ones you love most, like a friend or family member, is one of the best things you can do to improve your mental health. You don’t always have to be doing something active and exciting together – just being in each other’s company helps everyone feel better.
Feeling the emotional support of your loved ones is a great way to improve your mood.
Make Sleep a Priority
Sleep is crucial for mental health, and not getting enough sleep can lead to depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep can also exasperate symptoms of depression and anxiety, leading to a lack of energy, loss of interest in activities, low self-worth, and diminishing self-confidence.
When you’re getting enough sleep, your body can start healing and improving your overall mood and well-being.
What Causes Poor Quality Sleep?
Maybe the bed isn’t comfortable. Perhaps the room temperature is too hot or too cold. It could even be something as simple as too much blue light exposure before bed. There are also mental health problems that affect sleep; having too much on your mind and not being able to relax can lead to poor quality sleep.
It’s an unfortunate cycle, so set goals for your sleep and try to achieve them in order to improve mental health! Lower/raise the room temperature or consider introducing more physical activity throughout the day so that your body is tired at night. If nothing is helping you get quality shut-eye, talk to your doctor for next steps.
Know When to Get Help
Self-care is a great way to improve your mental health, but it can’t eliminate mental illness. If you’re struggling with your mental health and it’s affecting your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. Professional help can range from talk therapy or medication to counseling, depending on the person’s need.
No one is alone in this. When working with a professional, you won’t have to worry about determining the best treatment plan on your own; a mental health expert can meet with you and find a plan to make you feel better.
Meridian HealthCare Can Help
Poor mental health affects your mood, your energy, and even your sense of purpose. While it’s good to know how to improve mental health, it’s even more important to know when more help is needed. Call Meridian HealthCare today to start your road to a happier, healthier life.
*If this is an emergency, please call 911 or the suicide helpline at 1-800-273-8255.