Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Even though your mental health can impact how you feel, your mental well-being encompasses much more than just feeling well. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of well-being that allows you to realize your full abilities, cope with life stress, work productively, and contribute to your community. Neglecting your mental health can make you feel irritated, angry, depressed, or moody. Not taking care of your mental health can also lead to physical symptoms such as fatigue, high blood pressure, chest pain, and ulcers. The good news is that simple lifestyle changes and habits you can adopt can start improving your mental health right away.
Talking about your feelings can help you stay in good mental health and deal with times when you feel troubled. Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness, rather, it can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. You don’t need to sit your loved ones down for a big conversation about your well-being. Many people feel more comfortable when these conversations develop naturally. Make talking about your feelings something that you do.
Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep and feel better. Exercising doesn’t just mean doing sports or going to the gym. Walks in the park, gardening, or housework can also keep you active. It’s best to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life. Try to make a physical activity that you enjoy a part of your day.
There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel. Food can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet good for your physical health is also good for your mental health. Eat a balanced diet that includes at least three meals each day and drink plenty of water. Some foods, like vegetables, lean protein, seafood, fresh herbs, peppers, olive oil, berries, and heart-healthy carbohydrates can benefit the brain and body by reducing symptoms of depression. Foods high in vitamin B12 can also help ward off depression and low moods.
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Give yourself some “me time”. Taking a break may mean being very active. It may mean not doing very much at all. Take a deep breath and relax. Fortunately, scheduling relaxation time into your daily schedule can help you protect your mental health.
Sometimes the world can wait.
Listen to your body. If you’re tired, give yourself time to sleep. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers and our concentration goes downhill. Getting enough sleep allows the brain to accurately process emotional information which can help stabilize and improve your mental health.
Caring for others is often an important part of keeping up relationships with people close to you. Helping others can make us feel needed and valued which can boost self-esteem. It also helps us see the world from another angle. That can help to put our problems in perspective. Caring for a pet can improve your well-being too. The bond between you and your pet can be as strong as between people. Looking after a pet can bring structure to your day and act as a link to other people.
Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental well-being by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward, giving you a feeling of purpose and self-worth. It could be small acts of kindness towards other people or larger ones like volunteering in your local community.
Stress, distressing emotions, and unexpected challenges can easily affect your mental health, but there’s hope. Small daily lifestyle changes can help enhance your mental health. None of us are superhuman. We can all get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. With nine locations throughout the region, Pathways Behavioral Health Services offers a range of inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services, including opioid treatment, emergency care, assessment, mental health treatment, referrals and education. Find a location near you.