Some argue that mental health is just as important as physical health; fair enough, but one might point out that the former trumps the latter as a serious matter. Without mental abilities, no physical abilities can overcome this weakness.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” –Khalil Gibran
Our mental health is dynamic because it affects everything in every experience. For example, when our mental health is good, so are our work performance, relationships, and overall quality of life. When we are suffering, it is impossible to successfully carry out our daily life.
As important as mental health is, it’s easy to take it for granted. It is easy to succumb to the social pressures imposed on the mind by physical characteristics (e.g., appearance, body weight). Additionally, those who seek comfort for mental health issues fear stigmatization, being considered “weak,” or otherwise negatively judged.
Mental health problems aren’t character weaknesses – they’re chemical imbalances in the brain. Plain and simple. Neither less nor more.
Whether we realize it or not, we are responsible for protecting our mental health. This responsibility should be second-to-none.
This brings us to the article’s topic – ways to maintain and improve your mental health. We sourced these ideas from an expert panel at the University of Michigan Health Service.
Ten habits that improve mental health
Try these new habits to boost your mental stamina.
1. Value yourself
It’s natural to be our own “worst enemy” at times. We harshly criticize any (real or perceived) mistake and constantly punish ourselves psychologically.
Despite this default mechanism, try by all means to practice self-compassion (there are many ways to do this, meditation among them.) Spend time on things you enjoy, such as your favorite hobbies.
Let: Do things that make you feel good!
2. Take care of your body
The link between physical and mental health is well established. Therefore, it is imperative to take note of your body. You can do the following:
- Don’t smoke
- Drink lots of water
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes
- Sleep at least 7-9 hours a night
- Avoid high-fat and sweet foods and drinks, and eat a well-balanced diet.
3. Pay attention to your social circle
Not everyone is blessed to have strong family ties. It helps (ineffectively) mental development. But it is our responsibility to allow the “right kind” of people into our lives.
This means supporting family members or friends and looking for social events that can bring good people into your life.
4. Give what you can
You don’t have to give away half your salary to reap the mental health benefits of generosity. Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else; find a worthy cause you can fully support and stick with it.
5. Understanding and practicing stress management
Here’s an uncomfortable truth: some of us are bad at handling stress. These types of people face significant physical and mental disadvantages.
Several structured stress-management strategies are available, and many are pretty convincing. Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program is worth mentioning.
Also, simple stress reduction techniques such as moment-to-moment meditation can help.
6. Silence your mind
Our mind has extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, our minds can also be a liability. We can develop too many mentally dangerous mindsets.
So, it is essential to apply methods of combating our “monkey mind.” Among them: are mindfulness, prayer, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques.
7. Watch your work
The mental problems associated with jobs are related to their innate stress requirements. According to health.com, certain occupations are associated with higher rates of depression. Think of jobs working with community nurses, teachers, and salespeople.
If you suspect your Job is taking a severe toll on your mental health, it may be time to consider your options. While many jobs aren’t fun, they don’t have to be so stressful that they jeopardize your mental stability.
8. Avoid alcohol and other drugs
Sure, booze and pills can temporarily relieve stress. But when this habit becomes a habit, it becomes other serious problems.
It is difficult for people to “see the light” of alcohol and drug use. More specifically, the long-term consequences of their use are worthless.
9. Shaking things up
Monotony is a stress inducer. When we do the same, the accumulated stress can threaten our mental health every day. Find ways to mix up an enjoyable or “turn off” approach to work, hobbies, and other pursuits.
10. Get some help
Many employers in the US offer an employee assistance program or EAP. An EAP helps employees “with personal and work-related problems that may affect their work performance, health, and mental and emotional well-being.” Other advanced countries offer something similar.
Find an outlet, whether a board-certified psychiatrist or someone you admire. Remember: getting help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength and courage.
11. Go outside
You’ll feel happier and less stressed when you get outside in the sunshine and fresh air. Being outside causes your brain to release the natural mood-stabilizing chemical serotonin. It is a healthy escape to recharge your mind and get energy. Try doing something like this:
- Go for a walk
- Having a picnic
12. Get enough sleep
People who get enough sleep have less depression and other mental problems. Sleep recharges your body and mind. It strengthens your mind and body, including:
- It helps your learning ability
- It strengthens your memory
- He protects his heart
- It improves your decision-making ability
- It helps not lose weight
13. Eat well
Your mental health is directly related to your physical health. When you eat well, you feel good physically and increase your positivity. Choose whole foods, not processed ones. Eat plenty of chopped vegetables, fresh fruits, lean meats, and complete, fibrous grains for a healthy boost.
Reading is an inexpensive way to improve your mental health. It strengthens brain activity and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. A study of college students found that students who studied daily were less stressed. This reduced their psychological distress and improved their overall mental health.
Reading fiction is believed to be the most influential genre for reducing stress. When you are fully engaged in the story, your muscles relax, and you concentrate. It slows down your breathing and heart rate, just like during meditation.
Laughing lightens your mood and eases your anxiety level. Spontaneous and even “fake” laughter makes you feel more positive about life.
Laughter is a natural activity that boosts your mental health and relieves stress in your life. Watch a funny movie, read a comic novel, or listen to a podcast by your favorite comedian.
16. Express gratitude
When you are grateful, it can reduce your stress. Gratitude helps you overcome pessimism. It allows you to be thankful to the people around you. When you show appreciation to people, you’ll be surprised how much it improves your outlook on life and mental health.
17. Look for the good
Focusing on all the bad things in your life weighs you down. It damages your mental health. Try to focus on your problems.
There is always good, even in the most challenging situations. Take some time today to look for the good things happening around you.
18. Be creative
But did you know that creativity can improve your mental health? As you focus on creative activity, your mind wakes up and reduces stress. Creativity helps solve problems. Research has shown that invention creates positive emotions and can give you a greater sense of well-being. Creative people say they feel happier and more energetic.
19. Get some exercise
Exercising improves the health of your mind and body. It relieves your anxiety, helps you sleep, and reduces general stress while taking time to exercise. Try to exercise at least three times a week for 30 minutes. You don’t need to do all 30 minutes at once. Break it up with different activities. For example:
- Strength training
20. Get a pet
Owning a pet gives you a sense of purpose and reduces stress and anxiety. Dog owners get more exercise because they need to go for a walk.
You will feel more secure and less lonely when you have a pet. Pets boost your self-confidence and allow you to meet new people in the neighborhood.
Latest words on developing habits that improve mental health
If you struggle with depression or anxiety, try incorporating some of these tips into your daily schedule. Of course, these won’t solve all your problems, but they can help reduce your anxiety and improve your overall well-being. Remember that you are not alone in your struggles. If you are struggling with depression, be sure to see a doctor.