I'm celebrating the halfway point of my 30 day blogging challenge by creating a list of things, some of which I've already blogged about, that can benefit your mental health.
1. Take care of yourself
A. Eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water
Make sure you eat a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. We all know how the food we eat can make us feel but we also need to pay attention to the impact on our mood. Experiencing nutrition related grogginess, fatigue or brain fog can have an impact on the way we feel and interact in the world. There is growing evidence that nutrition impacts our mental health, especially in regards to depression (Sarris, Jerome et al., 2015). Make an effort to fuel your body with the proper nutrients.
B. Get enough sleep
Sleep plays a large role in our mental health. Ensuring we get enough quality sleep is important. Create a sleep routine to help facilitate an easier time falling asleep. Leave your bed for sleep and bedroom activities, only, meaning don’t study or catch up on emails in bed. Think cool, dark and quiet when creating a bedroom environment. The light and alerts from our phones can be distracting. Ensure cell phones are on sleep mode while sleeping. If at all possible, charge your phone in another room and use a good old fashioned alarm clock.
C. Exercise regularly
Invest 40 minutes per day into exercise. Do it all at once or spread it out. Exercise has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and improve overall mood.
E. Minimize alcohol and avoid other drugs
Both can be used to self-medicate but they do not solve problems, and, in the end, exacerbate existing problems.
2. Cut down on technology
Technology can be a huge distraction. By setting technology down we can devote more time to being present to those around us. Also, stepping away from our devices assists in keeping a good work-life or school-life balance. That balance is key to a happy you.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Remember, mindfulness is a single-pointed focus. A variety of activities can fall into the mindfulness category if they allow us to achieve that “zoned-in” feeling. This can be meditation, crocheting, coloring, target practice or most anything.
4. Learn strategies to combat stress
Stress reduction strategies were discussed in one of my blogs. I spoke about putting on the brakes to stress by using relaxation and deep breathing techniques as it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. You can also use up the glucose, adrenaline and cortisol in your system by engaging in cardiovascular exercise. There many other ways to reach a state of calm and relaxation that can help us reduce stress including prayer, journal writing, yoga, etc.
5. Participate in acts of kindness (previous blog available)
Any time we can give of ourselves whether through volunteering or other acts of kindness we can build a connection with our community. If you remember from my blog, acts of kindness have a positive impact to the person on the receiving end and even witnesses of kindness. Especially when intentional acts are performed, there can be longer lasting positive effects on both physical and mental well-being for the giver of kindness.
6. Be Kind to Yourself
This includes using positive self-talk and treating yourself with kindness and patience. Do things you enjoy by carving out time for yourself.
7. Be grateful
Not only does gratitude help us to be present in our lives but it helps us in a multitude of other ways too. There is a significant list of benefits associated with gratitude including those related to our physical and mental health. It increases empathy and reduces feelings of anger (Morin, 2015). It can help us sleep better and improve our self-esteem (Morin, 2015). It’s a practice that pays dividends to our overall well-being.
8. Set goals
Set SMART goals (see previous blog post). People who set and achieve goals gain a personal sense of fulfillment. A sense of achievement and worth accompany the process of working towards and accomplishing our goals.
9. Surround yourself with caring people
A supportive network is linked to healthier people. If you have loving family and friends, make sure to keep in contact with them. If you are looking for more caring people in your life, seek out groups, clubs, or places where you can meet like minded individuals to connect with.
10. Seek out help
When mental health becomes a struggle, seek help. Therapeutic services work and it doesn’t mean you are weak, it’s actually a sign of strength. Mental illness and addiction can be overcome when appropriate treatment is sought.
Making a lot of life changes all at once can seem overwhelming but don’t fret, making one change at a time is beneficial too.
If you want more information on any of these topics or assistance in improving your mental health, make an appointment with me.
Morin, Amy. "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 03 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 June 2017.
Sarris, Jerome et al. (2015). Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 2, Issue 3, 271 - 274.