Mental health is a widely discusses concept these days. You might notice discussions about mental health online, in conversations, on your favorite show or in any number of other places.
Your mental health can impact everything about your life, including how you handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Nurturing your mental health can also help you manage health conditions that are worsened by stress, like heart disease.
So this World Mental Health Day is a good opportunity for us to check in with ourselves and our mental well-being as we make our way through life. Here are some habits to build for better mental health that can make a big difference in your day-to-day life.
- Cut Back On Social Media
Constantly consuming information about other people’s lives may cause someone to compare themselves and promote feelings of low self-worth, which increases feelings of anxiety and depression.
To spend less time on social media, try to:
- Keep your phone in a drawer or outside your bedroom while sleeping.
- Make a list of alternate, more meaningful activities to replace your usual scrolling sessions.
- Turn off notifications or delete social apps from your phone.
- Keep Your Body Moving
Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body. Regular activity, even for just 30 minutes a day, can have a major impact on your mental and emoitonal health, relieve stress, imporve memory and help you sleep better.
Enjoyable activities you can try include:
- Joining a running or walking club.
- Taking a slower-paced restorative yoga class.
- Trying seated exercises.
- Throwing a dance party.
- Taking stretching breaks every hour.
- Gardening or doing other work in your backyard.
- A weekend family hike or walk along the beach.
You don’t have to do a vigorous workout to support mental wellness.
- Don’t Skimp On Sleep
Speaking of sleep, it matters more than you think. It gives our bodies and brains to recharge, recover and repair. One way to get sleep better is to take a break from the stimulation of screens before bedtime — that means avoiding your TV, phone, tablet or computer at night. Changing your sleep routine can take time but will make a huge difference to your energy and mood.
- Strengthen Your Relationships
Humans are social creatures and strong relationships can have a positive influence on our mental health in various ways. Friendships, for example, can ease feelings of loneliness, make it easier to get emotional support and add meaning to your life.
You have plenty of options for cultivating positive connections and nurturing your friendships:
- Keep in touch by checking in regularly, even with a quick text.
- Meet up for a morning walk or breakfast.
- Call for a short chat during your lunch break.
- Schedule biweekly or monthly dinner dates.
- Savor Nutrient-Rich Foods
Certain foods can also affect your mental health.
To support improved mental health, try expanding your current diet to include foods packed with mood-boosting nutrients like:
- whole grains
- fatty fish, like salmon
It can also help to simply make sure you fuel your body every day — eating anything is better than eating nothing.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can also have benefits. When you’re dehydrated, you’re denying your brain and body the nutrients needed to survive and operate at a more optimal level. Don’t let dehydration get the best of you, so invest in a reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated.
- Know When To Take It Easy
On difficult days, you might find it tough to do any of the above, making you feel even worse.
At times like these, commit to taking one small step every day like:
- Making your bed when you get up.
- Drinking one glass of water in the morning.
- Setting a timer to clean something for just 5 minutes.
- Buying a prepackaged meal when cooking anything feels close to impossible.
- Make Time For Rest
While what constitutes “rest” may vary from person to person, it generally means giving your mind and body the opportunity to unwind and restore. Whether that’s spending time out in the sun, taking it easy in the comfort of your home or having a nighttime routine before bed, finding time to unwind from the stressors of the day is essential.
When To Reach Out
The strategies above can help improve mental well-being, but they can’t cure any mental health conditions. In other words, making changes in our habits may not always relieve mental distress and working with a therapist can be a powerful way to improve your mental health.
You don’t need to have depression, anxiety, or any specific mental health symptoms to benefit from therapy.
But reaching out becomes particularly important if:
- You’ve experienced a stressful or traumatic event.
- You feel more upset, anxious or sad than usual.
- You frequently feel agitated, irritable or angry.
- Your motivation has tanked.
- You’ve noticed changes in your appetite and sleep patterns.
- You often find it challenging to get through the day.