Mental health is your overall psychological well-being. It includes how you feel about yourself, your ability to cope with stress, and make healthy choices in life. And just like your physical health is vulnerable to triggers like a poor diet or a sedentary lifestyle, your mental health can also take a blow. Chronic stress, relationship difficulties, and trauma are a few examples of things that can lead to mental health problems.
So, it’s no surprise (or shame) that people suffer from mental health conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. Statistically, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults experiences a mental illness in any given year.
Just as you would (and should) take care of your physical health, you should also take care of your mental health. Let’s look at the ways you can do that.
1. Understand What You’re Dealing With
We know and understand the symptoms and causes of basic physical conditions like the flu or a cold. However, we often don’t know where to start when it comes to mental health.
So, start educating yourself about mental health. Learn about the different types of mental illnesses and their symptoms. It will help you better understand your condition and find the right treatment.
Besides the causes and symptoms, you must also know whom to approach for help. Should you consult a psychiatrist or an LPC? Now, you’re probably wondering, “what does LPC stand for, and what’s the difference between the two?” While a psychiatrist is also helpful, LPC (i.e., licensed professional counselors) are more well-versed at assisting individuals to overcome mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.
All this information will help you deal with your mental health in a better way.
2. Know When to Seek Medical Help
Physical discomfort is easy to spot. So, when your back starts killing you and your posture looks like Quasimodo, you know it’s time to see a Chiropractor.
But mental health conditions are not always so easy to detect. Or perhaps, you’re in denial about your condition. If you’re not sure whether or not you need professional help, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your symptoms affecting your work, school, or personal life?
- Are you having difficulty functioning in day-to-day activities?
- Are you using alcohol/drugs to cope with your condition?
- Are you feeling hopeless or like life is not worth living?
If your immediate response is a definite ‘yes’ to any of these questions, it’s time to seek professional help. Please don’t wait until your condition deteriorates to a point where it’s hard to bounce back.
3. Never Mess with Your Sleep Cycle
There are two extreme polars when it comes to sleep: you can’t get enough of it, or you’re up all night. Either way, it’s not good for your mental health.
As per the highest recorded case, a man went 11 days without sleep. But was he mentally stable? Nope. After two days of no sleep, a person starts hallucinating and seeing things that aren’t there.
And that isn’t healthy.
Lack of sleep causes increased irritability, anxiety, and stress. It also leads to impaired decision-making, forgetfulness, and an inability to concentrate. So, it would help if you got enough shut-eye.
Seven to eight hours of sleep every night is ideal. To help yourself sleep better, establish a regular sleep schedule. Soothe your senses with mind relaxants like lavender oil and magnesium. Also, avoid TV time or using your phone in bed.
4. Remind Yourself of the Good
During stressful times, it’s easy to forget all the good in your life. Maybe you had a great childhood or met someone who changed your life for the better.
When you’re feeling down, take a sheet of paper and write down all the good things that have happened to you. Include both big and small moments.
This exercise will help you remember that no matter how dark things seem, there’s always some light. And it’ll give you the strength to get through tough times.
5. Connect with People
Social interactions are crucial for mental health. When you’re feeling low, it’s easy to isolate yourself and withdraw from the world. But that will only make you feel worse. So, instead of hiding away, reach out to your friends and family.
If you don’t have anyone to talk to, consider joining a support group. You can share your experiences with people who understand what you’re going through.
Besides providing emotional support, social interactions also help reduce stress. When you converse with others, your body releases oxytocin, a hormone that has calming effects.
6. Learn Some Relaxation Techniques
Social interactions are good, but you can’t rely on people to always be available for you. We are all dealing with something, after all.
So, you’ll have to be your support system sometimes. And one of the proven ways to do that is to learn some relaxation techniques.
You can try different techniques, but the most popular ones are meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.
7. Make Time for Leisure
We can’t emphasize enough the cruciality of relaxing and having fun. Even if it’s something like going out shopping or watching a movie, ensure to schedule some leisure time for yourself.
Leisure activities help reduce stress and improve your mood. They can also increase your feelings of self-esteem and competence.
If you want a drastic and immediate change in your routine, travel to new places or pick up a new hobby. Doing something different will help you see the world in a new light and appreciate life more. Some activities you can try include painting, hiking, and biking.
8. Stay Physically Fit
You can’t deny that your mental and physical health are interconnected. When your body is healthy, eventually, your mind will be too.
The benefits of exercise are well-documented. It helps reduce stress, improves brain function, and boosts your mood.
So, ensure to get some exercise every day. A brisk walk in the park or a session at the gym is a good start. Slowly you can increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
But don’t forget to warm up and cool down properly. And listen to your body. If you’re feeling pain, stop and rest.
Many factors affect your mental health condition. And so, there’s plenty that can help you reboot your mood and outlook on life. If you can’t make the strenuous effort of working out, don’t worry. Begin with minor steps and trust that it’s enough. Remember, even baby steps can lead to significant changes. Start by elevating your condition and appreciating the simple things in life. Then, work your way up from there. Soon, you’ll be on the path to a better mental state.