Mental health is a critical aspect of your overall well-being. It involves emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Just like physical health, mental health can be nurtured and maintained through various behaviors and habits.
In case you were unaware of what we mean by mental health, it is the foundation of thoughts, behaviors, and emotional regulation. It affects how we perceive ourselves, make choices, and interact with others. Positive mental health allows individuals to realize their potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to the community. If you need to improve your mental health, then perhaps you should consider engaging in some of the following behaviors.
You may not realize it, but your overall mood is largely based on your self-esteem. This is how we feel and view ourselves and our behavior. Learning new skills or knowledge can enhance self-esteem and encourage social interaction. It also keeps the brain engaged and active, which is beneficial for mental health. Keeping your brain active is also a great way to prevent dementia and other degenerative brain diseases. However, you can only receive a self-esteem boost if you set realistic goals.
Setting and achieving realistic goals provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment. It’s important that these goals are challenging, yet achievable to maintain motivation and avoid frustration.
Researchers have worked for decades to establish a link between exercise and mood, and the results seem conclusive. Physical activity has been shown to have a significant positive impact on mental health. Regular exercise helps release endorphins – the “feel-good” hormones, and other brain chemicals that enhance your sense of well-being. Exercise also helps in reducing anxiety and depression.
It is not necessary to engage in intense workouts for mental health benefits. You can even engage in exercise that you enjoy. For instance, many people are now engaging in cycling for better mental health. You can also perform moderate exercises such as walking, swimming, or even dancing for 30 minutes, 3-5 times a week, which can substantially improve mental health.
Exercise might be good for both your physical and mental health, but eating well too. Eating well doesn’t just mean that you only eat fruit and vegetables while avoiding fatty foods. You also need a balanced diet to achieve good nutrition. The brain needs various nutrients to function properly. For example, foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber have been found to be particularly beneficial for mental health. You know your body best, so pay attention to how you feel after certain foods to stay mentally healthy.
Staying hydrated is also essential for healthy brain function. Dehydration can affect your mood and can make concentration and thinking more difficult. That is why you will benefit from drinking at least two liters of water a day.
Avoid Certain Foods
Just as eating a balanced diet can improve your mental health, some foods can damage it. High sugar consumption is one of the leading dietary culprits in worsening mental health. Foods and beverages laden with sugar, such as sodas, candies, and pastries, cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. These spikes and crashes can lead to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. Moreover, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
It isn’t just the food you eat that can have this impact. Many people will resort to alcohol as a means to relax and alleviate stress. However, alcohol is a depressant and can contribute to poor mental health. Chronic consumption of alcohol can deplete the levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Moreover, alcohol disrupts sleep patterns, which is crucial for mental well-being.
Sleep is a critical aspect of mental health. It is during sleep that the brain processes emotions and stores memories. As such, you should try to get at least seven or eight hours of quality sleep a night. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can lead to mood disorders, anxiety, and depression. But what constitutes quality sleep?
Adopting good sleep hygiene, including having a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime, can contribute to better sleep quality. It also helps to avoid having too much screen time before bed and not drinking alcohol.
Humans are social beings, and having a strong social network is essential for mental health. Having a strong social network doesn’t just mean that you have a lot of people you can call friends. It can also mean meeting and talking to a variety of people often. This can be at work, in a regular extracurricular activity, or just catching up with your neighbors. Social interactions contribute to a sense of belonging, and self-worth, and provide support during challenging times.
Regularly engaging with family and friends, participating in social groups, and being active in the community are ways to build and maintain social connections. Having people around you are always a good way to improve your self-esteem, – especially if you are positively working as a team.
Your friends and family might not always be able to offer the right kind of advice to help you in a crisis. In fact, some mental health issues may require medical help. It is crucial to recognize when this type of professional help is needed. Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or other mental health issues should not be ignored. If you experience any of these, do not hesitate to call a doctor.
You may not need to prescribe medication, but a doctor can point you in the right direction to receive the help you need. Talking therapies such as counseling or psychotherapy can be very beneficial for mental health. They provide a safe space to talk about feelings and work through issues. A weekly meeting with a trained professional may be all you need to do to put the wind back in your sails.
Find A Hobby
A hobby is a great way to meet new people and socialize. However, hobbies and leisure activities are excellent outlets for stress relief and provide a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be something physical. Even arts and crafts provide you with a sense of purpose and productivity. Engaging in such hobbies helps in building self-esteem and improving mood.
There are also hobbies you can work on yourself to improve your mental health. Practices such as mindfulness and meditation can significantly improve mental health by reducing stress, improving focus, and promoting a positive mood state. You will get better at this over time, but it is worth getting used to if you are easily overwhelmed by poor mental health.
Maintaining and enhancing mental health is vital for overall well-being. Incorporating behaviors such as regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, ensuring quality sleep, building social connections, engaging in leisure activities, continuous learning, and seeking professional help, when necessary, can greatly contribute to positive mental health. It is important to remember that mental health is an ongoing process, and adopting a combination of these behaviors is likely to be more beneficial than relying on just one. Being proactive and prioritizing mental health is an investment in one’s quality of life and overall happiness.