Going to the doctor for regular check-ups is essential for your physical health, but are you doing anything to ensure your mental health is where it should be? Whether or not you have a current mental health diagnosis, you can do small things to improve your mental health, and as a result, improve your overall well-being.
Here are 10 things you can try to increase your resiliency, no matter what stressors come your way:
Exercise is proven to boost your mood, so implement a regular physical routine as part of your day. You don’t have to sign up for a gym membership, unless you want to. Even something as simple as a quick walk around the block can ease your stress and alleviate some symptoms of depression and anxiety. Most medical professionals suggest aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Opening up and talking to other people can help you feel better about yourself and others. Call a friend or family member, or find a peer group where you feel comfortable sharing. If you are really struggling and find yourself entertaining thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Someone is available to talk with you 24/7.
Eating nothing but junk food doesn’t feel good for your body or your mind. Instead, think about what you eat as fuel for your overall health. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats and carbohydrates that are full of vitamins and nutrients can help your brain function properly.
Focus on gratitude
Practising gratitude is linked to improved happiness, which is something we all want. Try writing down five things you are grateful for each day and see how it makes you feel.
Look for the positive
Improve your self-worth by thinking positively instead of focusing on the negative. It’s not always easy to have a positive attitude when life is difficult, but a change in perception can change how you feel about any situation.
Go to therapy
While talking to friends or family regularly can really help with your mental health, attending therapy with a licensed professional can provide even more support.
Serve someone else
Looking outside yourself at someone else who may need help can enrich your life with meaning and purpose. You don’t have to set up a large-scale service project to benefit from helping others. Simply keep an eye out for small things you can do to improve someone else’s day.
Get more sleep
Sleep deprivation can negatively impact your mood, leaving you tired and irritable. Try going to bed at the same time each night and aim for at least seven hours of sleep (eight is even better). If you have trouble falling asleep, be sure to avoid screens and monitors for at least an hour before bedtime and create a relaxing routine to help prepare for sleep.
It is easy to get caught up in the past or the future instead of focusing on the here and now. However, mindfulness can help you stay present. Try to focus on what is happening around you rather than getting stuck thinking about emotions or experiences that are weighing you down.
Take a reset
If you frequently find yourself overwhelmed by life, work on creating a reset routine that can help you take a moment to breathe and relax. This can be as simple as stepping out of the room and taking 10 deep breaths before returning.
These 10 tips are tools to deal with everyday stressors – helping you to gain more control over your mental health and improve daily life. But during those times when life’s challenges become excessively burdensome, overwhelming and potentially harmful to your mental health, be sure to seek out professional help. After all, good mental health allows us to be our best selves.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.