When it comes to taking care of ourselves, we often focus solely on our physical body. However, maintaining your mind is just as important. According to multiple studies, focusing on your mental health can improve your immune system, increase your productivity, and help you live longer. So, there’s no reason you shouldn’t put as much attention on your emotional wellbeing as your physical.
While taking care of your mental health can mean seeking professional support and treatment, it also means taking steps to improve your emotional strength on your own. There are a number of easy things you can do every day to improve your mental health – here are 5 you can try right now.
Take A Break
In those moments when it all seems like too much, step away.
“Seen as a key aspect of self-care, taking a break can help us clear our mind by just having a quiet moment,” said Cynthia V. Catchings, a Talkspace therapist based in Alexandria, Virginia. “It can also be helpful because we can utilize that time to practice mindfulness or creative visualization. A break can be described as a few free minutes between tasks.
However, it can also mean leaving our smartphone at home for a day and disconnecting from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. By doing that, we also liberate ourselves from the daily routines and expectations that affect our mental health.”
Write In A Journal
Putting pen to paper can be a cathartic experience. Try keeping a journal or even just writing down your anxieties and tossing them in the trash. Writing about what’s stressing you out and then physically throwing it away may help clear your mind. Alternatively, consider keeping a journal where you write down what you are grateful for daily or even weekly.
Get Sufficient Sleep
Just because you have other things on your plate doesn’t give you an excuse to put sleep on the back burner. Sufficient sleep energizes your brain cells, keeps up your motivation for daily life activities, and gives you a more peaceful feeling about your day.
“The way we feel when we are awake depends so much on what happens when we sleep,” Catchings said. “Sleep is involved in repairing of our heart and blood vessels. Lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.”
Try Something New
Take the opportunity to do something you’ve never done before. If there are activities on your bucket list like hiking, snorkelling, or going to a luau in Hawaii, begin to research the most cost-effective way to bring these experiences to life. Research shows that experiences lead to greater sustained positive feelings than possessions.
Maintain A Well-Balanced Diet
Eating well is key to overall health, including your mental well-being. Try incorporating fruits and vegetables in your diet more often along with brain-boosting foods like avocados and salmon.
“Each one of the mentioned items can help us regain energy, decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and most importantly, release endorphins to help us feel happier in general,” Catchings said. “Studies show that endorphins cause a positive feeling in the body. Endorphins also act as analgesics, diminishing the perception of pain. They also give us a natural high that allows us to feel happy and full of energy for hours.”
Get Help When You Need It
While these tips are a start, it’s important to get professional help – via online therapy or brick-and-mortar – if you need it. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
“For some people, it is very difficult to ask for help from friends or family members, and even more difficult to reach out to get counselling from a professional,” Catchings said. “The stigma is something we have to deal with, and overcome, while juggling our mental health issues as well. When we find ourselves in this situation, we have to remember that our mental health comes first, and a therapist can help us figure out the cause of our stress, how to minimize it, and how to learn techniques for handling it in the future.”
Now that you have the tips, it’s time to get started. You have the power to take positive steps right now to improve your resilience and emotional health. Don’t wait until you’re in a crisis to make your mental health a priority.
People often don’t get the mental health services they need because they don’t know where to start.
Talk to your primary care doctor or another health professional about mental health problems. Ask them to connect you with the right mental health services.
If you do not have a health professional who is able to assist you, use these resources to find help for yourself, your friends, your family, or your students.
Emergency Medical Services—911
If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911, available 24 hours a day.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)
Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.