By Catherine Tan
Taking care of your mental health provides some great health benefits and improve your outlook towards life.
Mental health affects the way we think, feel, and behave in daily life. We all need good mental health to be able to cope with stress, overcome challenges, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships. It also enables us to form and maintain healthy relationships with others.
Mental health is often mistakenly associated with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety conditions and others. The fact that someone is not experiencing one of those conditions doesn’t necessarily mean that their mental health is flourishing.
Likewise, it is possible for someone to have a mental health condition while feeling well in many aspects of life. After all, having good mental health makes you feel good and generally satisfied with your life. Below are a few practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes of life doesn’t cost a fortune or take up loads of time.
#1. Filter What You See and Listen To
Technology like our mobile devices enable us to access to vast information every minute, every day. However, too much information can be overwhelming. We should filter what we see and listen to especially on social media. Don’t feel bad to unfollow people or pages that irrelevant or gives you negative feelings, whether it is unnecessary pressure or any mixed feelings.
People react to different information different. Messages that are meant to motivating for some people might be demotivating for some others. Pay attention to your emotions and how to react to different information.
#2. Stay Active
Exercise might not be your favorite thing to do. However, regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, and help you concentrate, eat, sleep and feel better. Exercise keeps your brain healthy too which brings significant benefit to your mental health. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym or doing sports. Choose something that you like to start with instead of blindly following others advice. Walks in the park, gardening, housework, playing with your kids keeps you active too. Try to make physical activities part of the day you enjoy every day. Don’t forget to have fun!
#3. Stop Glorifying Being Busy and Get Enough Rest
We all have things to do, goals to achieve and places to go. But listen to your body and, give yourself time to sleep if you feel tired. Without good sleep, our mental health suffers, and our concentration goes downhill. Things get worse when we start having negative thoughts and emotions. Good sleep doesn’t mean lots of sleep but the right kind of sleep.
Pay attention to factors that affect the quality of your sleep. Be mindful of presence of gadgets and electronics, such as computers, smart phones, tablets, and TV. The backlit “blue light” emitted from screens suppresses melatonin production – the hormone that helps you sleep. Even though the amount of sleep that each person needs is different, it is recommended that a healthy adult gets at least seven hours of sleep.
A good rest can also be as short as a 5-minute break from whatever you are doing. A few minutes can be enough to de-stress you. Take a deep breathe, relax or even let your thoughts flow.
#4. Eat Healthy and Reduced Refined Sugar
There are strong links between what you eat and how we feel. For example, coffee and sugar can give us immediate effect. Our brains need a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well. A diet that gives you good physical healthy gives you good mental health too. High sugar consumption might give you a spike in mood but the roller coaster of high blood sugar followed by a crash might lead to certain mood disorders. Don’t forget to drink enough water too. Drinking enough water keeps our brains from having to struggle the effects of dehydration and allow us to think clearly.
#5. Find your Creative Side
Everyone has a creative side within ourselves. What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing? There are various creative ways of being creative, such as, gardening, writing, sewing, dancing, singing, composing, playing a musical instrument, sketching, and the list goes on. Engaging in creative behaviors and tapping in creative energy is proven to improve mental health. A creative act can help focus your mind and even release dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Most importantly, enjoying yourself helps you beat stress, forget about your worries for a while and change your mood. Furthermore, doing an activity that you enjoy probably means you are good at it and it boosts your self-esteem.
#6. Keep in Touch
Having strong family bonding and supportive friends can help you deal with stresses of life. Good friends and family make you feel included and cared for. Talking to people give you different views from whatever that is going on inside your own head. Connecting with people makes you grounded. Start working on relationships that make you feel loved and valued. The quality of your relationships is more important than the quantity of people in your social network. And part of building strong relationships is by having good, open, and regular communication.
On the other hand, if you think being around someone is damaging your mental health, it might be best to take a break from them or just call it a day. It is also crucial to be more socially active and spend less time in front of laptop or computer screen. You can also start being more socially active by smiling and saying hello to strangers you cross path with.
#7. Take care of your personal finance
There is a complicated relationship between personal finance and mental health. They often create a “chicken and egg” scenario. If you are constantly worrying about how to make ends meet, how to settle your credit card debts, or how you are going to feed your family, you will find yourself in a negative headspace. When you feel like you are losing control over your finances, you tend to lose control of your mood and emotions too.
We have all heard the phrase “Money can’t buy happiness”. There is some truth to that. But, if you do not have the concerns as mentioned, it’s a considerable burden off your shoulders. Approach your money matters with a thoughtful and mature approach, you will have a greater chance to achieve lasting happiness and security that results in good mental health. As most things in life, the best approach in managing your money matter is a balanced and informed one.
Consult a professional licensed financial planner to get a holistic view of your financial situation and work on your life goals step by step. Personal financial management can be simple and stress-free if you have a structured plan.
Maintaining good mental gives you the ability to have more resiliency and enable you to manage stress better. You will have the strength to cope with all the unexpected changes and challenges that gets thrown at you in life. It also means that you are more likely to stay away from depression, anxiety and other serious mental conditions. After all, very little is need to make a happy life, it is all within ourselves. Be happy with what you have and be excited about what you want!
What do you do to improve your mental health, especially in this current situation? Share with us in the comments section below.