Understanding your mental health is the key to improving it. We often misinterpret mental health as a disease that can be diagnosed and cured with treatment. Being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues doesn’t make you mentally and emotionally healthy. Mental well-being is more about how you think, feel, and behave in daily life. These are the factors that drive our abilities to overcome stress, build relationships, and heal from our griefs and hardships.
There is nothing bad about seeking professional support and treatment when you are facing problems. But, it also is of great importance that you take the right steps to prevent such problems and improve your mental health. How?! There are plenty of practices you can adopt to keep your balance or re-balance yourself. Here are the best 7 of such habits that can easily help you cultivate strong mental health.
1. Get Quality Sleep
We all have hectic work schedules and deadlines from time-to-time and skipping a few hours our sleep-time may seem like a smart move now and then. But, these cutbacks can surely lead to long-term distress in our moods and emotions.
According to a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine about 60 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and sleep problems that can impair physical well-being and cognitive functioning ✅ Trusted Source Altevogt, B. M., & Colten, H. R. (Eds.). (2006). Sleep disorders and sleep deprivation: an unmet public health problem. National Academies Press. . Though researchers suggest that an adult should have at least nine hours of quality sleep, it is unrealistic to expect one to fall asleep the moment we are on the bed. However, you can cultivate a good routine that can help you find sleep easily. This includes shutting down screens for at least an hour before bed, trying to go to bed at a regular time each day, and avoiding caffeinated drinks after.
2. Eat Healthily
The food we eat is essential for our physical and neurological nourishment. Having an unhealthy diet can easily affect your brain and mood. It can disrupt sleep and drain your energy and wear out your immune system.
On the other hand, a wholesome diet, low in sugar and rich in healthy fats, can re-energize your mind and body, revives your sleep and mood and brings out the best in you. Nutrients like carbohydrates can increase serotonin, a chemical that can induce a calming effect on your mood. Food rich in proteins triggers more norepinephrine, dopamine, and tyrosine, which helps to sharpen your brain and thoughts ✅ Trusted Source McLaughlin, K. A., Green, J. G., Alegría, M., Costello, E. J., Gruber, M. J., Sampson, N. A., & Kessler, R. C. (2012). Food insecurity and mental disorders in a national sample of US adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(12), 1293-1303. .
There is an intrinsic link between the mind and the body. A healthy body has the power to cultivate better moods and emotions. Besides, that studies published in the Journal of Adolescence say that body dissatisfaction can affect depression rates ✅ Trusted Source Ferreiro, Fátima, Gloria Seoane, and Carmen Senra. "Toward understanding the role of body dissatisfaction in the gender differences in depressive symptoms and disordered eating: A longitudinal study during adolescence." Journal of adolescence 37.1 (2014): 73-84. . Exercise is considered one of the most powerful antidotes to stress, anxiety, and depression. Regular exercise can help release stress-relieving and mood-boosting endorphins. It can help improve memory and also help you to sleep better.
But, what if you are not a gym-person? Exercise does not mean pounding weights in a gym or jogging on a treadmill. There are many daily activities that can help you reap the same benefits. Take a walk through the park during your next lunchtime, dance to your favorite tunes, or play an activity-based game with your little ones.
4. Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Drugs
It’s a well-known fact that alcohol, smoking, or drugs can create an imbalance in the way our body and mind works. They upset the chemicals that help our brain to think, feel, and make decisions ✅ Trusted Source Adams, R. E., Boscarino, J. A., & Galea, S. (2006). Alcohol Use, Mental Health Status and Psychological Well-being 2 Years After the World Trade Center Attacks in New York City. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 32(2), 203–224. doi: 10.1080/00952990500479522 .
People often tend to use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope up with their rough times. But, these addictive substances will only lead to depression and anxiety, making recovery even harder. With proper support and perseverance, anyone can overcome drug and alcohol habits. It will, in turn, create positive changes in both your mental and physical wellbeing.
5. One Thing At A Time
It is really tough for any person to be focused on just one thing these days. But, the truth is that engaging in too many things at the same time can weigh us down. Meaningful activities, on the other hand, can generate new cells and neural pathways in the brain. This will help you strengthen your immune system, ease pain, reduce stress, and keep you motivated.
If your mind wanders, bring it back to what you are doing- even if it is as small as taking a shower, eating lunch, or walking home. It is important to make this a routine and follow it in all your daily activities.
6. Open Up To Someone
It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to have setbacks. We all have our own drawbacks. But, keeping it to yourself is not going to do any good to you. Start trusting someone to open up to. That person need not be someone you already know. It can be anyone who can help you see your positive aspects.
Even if you can’t find someone like that, it’s okay if you can always go to a professional too.
7. Take A Break
At times we all feel stressed out from everything. In moments like those, step away from whatever you are doing and give yourself a few minutes to relax and refresh.
You can try out a breathing exercise to make yourself calm easily and recollect yourself. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths. After you inhale each breath, count from 1 to 4 and then exhale. This simple exercise can create wonders in just minutes.
An Extra Tip- Start Right Away.
Taking a simple, positive step forward doesn’t require a lot of effort or thinking. Nothing else is more important than your mental well-being and peace-of-mind. Start one from the list that easily resonates with you. Or why not all?! Set routines, patterns and regular habits and you will always be living on the healthy side of life.
McLaughlin, K. A., Green, J. G., Alegría, M., Costello, E. J., Gruber, M. J., Sampson, N. A., & Kessler, R. C. (2012). Food insecurity and mental disorders in a national sample of US adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(12), 1293-1303.
Ferreiro, Fátima, Gloria Seoane, and Carmen Senra. "Toward understanding the role of body dissatisfaction in the gender differences in depressive symptoms and disordered eating: A longitudinal study during adolescence." Journal of adolescence 37.1 (2014): 73-84.
Adams, R. E., Boscarino, J. A., & Galea, S. (2006). Alcohol Use, Mental Health Status and Psychological Well-being 2 Years After the World Trade Center Attacks in New York City. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 32(2), 203–224. doi: 10.1080/00952990500479522