When it comes to physical health, doctors are quick to tell you that you need to eat fresh, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, and live well. But when it comes to mental health, it often seems like the only advice we get is reactionary. A more proactive approach could do wonders for your overall well being.
The case for being proactive
With mental health, you should focus on prevention, not intervention. Many mental health issues actually have a tendency to get worse when not treated. Underlying issues might seem small at first, but they compound over time. Anxiety is a classic example.
‘People often become anxious about their anxiety, which leads to more anxiety,’ Deep Eddy Psychotherapy explains. ‘In addition, if particular places or situations have led to high anxiety or panic attacks, our association between those places or situations and anxiety makes it more likely to have a similar experience the next time.’
The same goes for depression. When someone is depressed, they’re more likely to isolate and lose the desire to do things that would combat depression (like spending time outside, connecting with others, eating healthy, etc.).
By preventing, rather than just intervening, you allow yourself to leverage your full complement of strengths and take control over the situation.
5 Proactive mental health tips
Clearly, there’s value in being proactive with your mental health. Now the question becomes, how do you do it? Here are several helpful tips:
- Connect with people daily. One of the greatest travesties of this entire global pandemic has been the forced isolation of millions. It’s had an especially negative impact on people who live alone. And while we’re fortunate enough to have technologies like Zoom and Facetime, there is no replacement for connecting with people face-to-face. Even if you work from home or live by yourself, it’s important that you spend some time with people every day. It could be as simple as grabbing coffee with a friend or going into the office to say hello to some coworkers. Simple acts of socialisation lift your spirits (even if you’re an introvert).
- Take inventory of how you feel. Make a regular practice of taking an inventory of your feelings. Using a journal or a physical notebook, stop at least three times per day to listen to your mind and body. Write down the time and the emotion you associate with most strongly at that time (happy, stressed, confused, sad, anxious, excited, etc.). Not only does this make you more aware of your emotional health, but it also gives you something that you can look back on. Three months from now, you’ll be able to track the ebb and flow of your mental health.
- Try tuning fork therapy. Sometimes you need to bring your body back into a sense of balance. One excellent (yet little-known) option is tuning fork therapy. Regular tuning fork therapy sessions can help equalise your body. Tuning forks are calibrated to specific frequencies and used on specific points or meridians. The result is greater harmony and stronger mental health.
- Take care of yourself. There’s a pretty significant connection between your mind and your body. Many of the body’s key nerves – including the vagus nerve, which traces from the brain down to the colon – affect both aspects of your well-being. That means, by taking care of your physical health, you can actually have a positive impact on your mental health as well. Regular exercise, for example, is associated with greater happiness.
- Avoid social media. Getting off Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok is one of the smartest things you can do for your mental health and well-being. ‘While many of us enjoy staying connected on social media, excessive use can fuel feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and FOMO. Here’s how to modify your habits and improve your mood,’ HelpGuide.org explains. Use the time that you would have spent mindlessly scrolling to engage in practices like meditation, journaling, or even more sleep! All of these activities will have a much more positive impact on your health.
- Take care of yourself. The time to address your mental health is when things are going well and you feel like you have everything under control. When you’re in this sort of headspace, it’s much easier to strengthen your mindset and think positively. But regardless of where you currently are on the mental health spectrum, now is as good a time as any to implement the tips and techniques outlined above. Don’t be reactive – take control.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.