When we think of the term “healthy,” most of us think of someone who exercises often and eats a well-balanced diet. But mental health is also an essential aspect of our health, and it is something that many people struggle with.
Being proactive in this area of your life is important! You can make your mental health a greater priority and improve your life by implementing some of the behaviors listed here.
Mental health tips
- Set a mental health goal – Just like you may set weight loss or other health goals for yourself, you can also make a goal to improve your mental health. Examples include, “My goal is to journal for 10 minutes every night before bed” or “My goal is to get outside three days a week and walk in silence.” Both examples are great for your mental health!
- Drink water – Water has natural, calming properties that address dehydration’s effects on the body and brain. If you find that you’re not drinking enough water, make it a goal this summer to drink more water. Try to drink 100 ounces of water each day or swap out one of your soft drinks for water instead.
- Be kind to yourself – Do not say things about yourself that you would not want someone else to say about you. You are your biggest advocate and cheerleader, so when you stop being positive to yourself, it can take a toll on your mental health. Practice positive affirmations or try going a day without saying one negative thing about yourself.
- Eat less sugar – Diets that are high in sugar have been linked to mental health issues such as depression. You can enjoy natural sugars by eating more fruits and vegetables every day, but when you go to the grocery store, avoid purchasing candy, chips and other highly processed foods.
- Journal about your feelings – Writing out your feelings and processing your day can be helpful for your mental health. Even if you sit and journal for five minutes a day, it can be beneficial. If you are a visual learner, seeing your notes may be a good activity for you to try. Look online for mental health journals or choose a notebook with a fun design that you love.
- Go outside – Taking a break and going outside is often the best way to clear your head. Everyone needs a mental break away from work, technology and all the other stressors in life. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air. This could look like finding a park to go to or just walking a couple of laps around where you live. You can even sit on your porch or plant a small garden at your home.
- Talk to a therapist – It’s okay to seek professional help from a therapist. It may be easier to open up and be more vulnerable when talking to someone who is not a close family member or friend. Ask your primary care doctor if they can recommend a therapist or do your own research to find someone who’d be a good fit for your needs.
- Make a gratitude list – Reminding yourself of all the positives in your life can help minimize the negative while keeping you focused on what’s important. Keep a list of things you are grateful for or that bring joy to your life. You can also create a list of people that bring happiness to your life and make it a goal to thank them for the impact they have made on you.
- Meditate – Find a quiet area where you feel calm and collected to practice meditation. If you have never meditated before, go online and research the basics. There are also free apps available that can help guide you. You can also practice breathing techniques or incorporate yoga into your weekly workout routine to help provide greater mental well-being.
- Establish a bedtime routine – Bedtimes are not just for kids. Creating and keeping a bedtime routine keeps your body on a schedule that helps decrease restless sleep and increase your quality of sleep. Sleep provides your body and mind with rest and prepares you for the next day. Establish a realistic bedtime to be in bed every night. Another helpful tip is to avoid technology for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
- Put down your phone – Phones and other technology can heighten mental health issues. Social media especially can create stress by showing you what you do and do not have compared to others. Instead of picking up your phone and scrolling aimlessly through social media, pick up your journal and write about your day or how grateful you are in that moment. You can also create a TV schedule to help minimize zoning out in front of the television.
- Establish a workout routine– Exercising can help improve mental health and emotional well-being. If you haven’t been active in a while, start small then increase the amount of exercise you do each week. Also, find an activity that you love to do to keep it from feeling like a chore. Still, struggling to commit? Find an accountability partner to get active with.
- Have a support group – Establish a list of close family members or friends that you trust. Talk to them to let them know that they are part of your support system and ask if they can check on you occasionally. Carve out intentional time for important relationships in your life. Investing in others helps in improving mental health.
- Decrease alcohol intake – Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters in your brain that affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. If you drink, begin decreasing your alcohol intake. If you are trying not to drink, remove yourself from situations where you may feel tempted. Also, if you are going out with friends, volunteer to be the group’s designated driver so that you can’t drink.
- Practice self-care – Make yourself a priority. This is one of the best things that you can do for your mental well-being. This means dedicating time out of your day or week to focus solely on you. Take a bath, schedule “you” time, read a book, schedule a massage or find something that is all for you!
Mental health is essential to our wellbeing. Take time today and every day to focus on your mental health and recognize that it needs to be a priority for an overall healthy lifestyle.