10 Tips for Better Mental Health

Many people understand that mental health is just as important as physical health. But, while many people focus on their physical health by jogging or working out, mental health is often overlooked or forgotten about.

We’re all busy, and taking steps to protect mental health can take time. It’s all too easy to de-prioritize mental health exercises when we have so much on our plates. However, your mental health is well worth the time and effort.

Here are a few things you can do to protect and strengthen your mental health.

10 tips for better mental health



#1. Be cognizant of thinking traps

Too often, we give our thoughts a lot more power than we should, allowing them to control us when we should be controlling them.

Gaining more control over your thoughts starts with paying attention to them and recognizing thoughts that don’t serve you. Here are a few examples of thinkings traps people often find themselves in:

  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Making overgeneralizations
  • Catastrophizing
  • Personalization

Once you begin to recognize when these unhealthy thought patterns come up, you can firmly and gently push them aside.

#2. Connect with others

While many of us are still spending a lot more time at home, that doesn’t mean that we should be isolating ourselves from the people we love.

Everyone needs people in their lives. We’re social creatures, even the most introverted of us. Even if it’s just close friends or family, it’s important to stay connected as much as you can.

You may or may not be able to see friends and family in person, but it’s important to make time to talk with them on the phone or schedule video calls with them.

#3. Breathe

When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, one of the best ways to slow down your thinking and heart rate is by also slowing down your breathing.

Take a few minutes each day to relax, take long inhales and exhales, and focus on your breathing.

The more you practice, the better you’ll be able to maintain your focus and the more control you’ll have over your thoughts.



#4. Get good sleep

Good sleep is a crucial part of both mental and physical health, but many of us end up sacrificing good sleep.

Here are a few things you can do to sleep better at night:

  • Establish a regular sleep schedule
  • Take a break from looking at screens before bed
  • Drink less caffeine and alcohol

Aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

#5. Exercise regularly

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, and you’d be surprised at what a difference a little exercise can make in how you feel.

Exercising causes the brain to release endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good and help to reduce stress.

Make it a point to get a little bit of exercise every day. Even taking a simple walk each day can have a huge impact.

#6. Take a break from the news

Between the pandemic, unprecedented storms and weather events, political unrest and everything else going on, there’s a lot to keep track of in the world right now.

With so much going on, it can feel like you always have to be paying attention and staying up to date with it all, but giving yourself breaks is key.

The news can get overwhelming when you’re consuming it all the time. Limit your consumption to a few minutes each day so that you can stay in the know without stressing yourself out.



#7. Go outside

A lack of vitamin D can have a real impact on how you feel. That’s why people tend to feel down more often during the winter when they’re inside more. This is called seasonal affective disorder.

Weather permitting, try to get outside a little bit each day. Even a short walk each day can make a difference in how you feel.

When you’re unable to get outside, try bringing the outdoors in by growing indoor plants in your home.

#8. Give back

Sometimes, the best way to fill your cup is to first fill someone else’s.

When you’re feeling down or need a pick me up, try doing something for someone else. Giving back is one of the most effective ways to pick yourself up.

Giving back can mean all kinds of different things, from volunteering your time or making a donation to paying for someone else’s order in a drive-thru or helping out a friend.

#9. Eat well

How you eat, much like how well you sleep at night and how much you exercise, can play a part in how you feel physically and mentally.

Avoid eating too much sugar, which can leave you feeling tired and blah after the initial sugar high wears off, and limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume.

Also, drink more water throughout the day, and eat healthy meals and snacks to avoid the lethargy that comes with skipping meals or making unhealthy food choices.



#10. Get support

If you’re serious about building better mental health, one of the best things you can do is to work with a professional.

Working with a local therapist, psychiatrist or mental health care professional will give you more insight into your situation and different ideas on how to work through it.

If you’re looking for a therapist or psychiatrist near you, start your search with Top Rated Local®.

You can compare mental health professionals side by side, read therapist and psychiatrist reviews from across the web, see a snapshot of a mental health professional’s online reputation overall and more.

Find a mental health professional near you today.

Mental Health Tips During Coronavirus

Now, more than ever, we should all be thinking about our mental health.

The coronavirus pandemic — as well as the economic consequences of it — has created a lot of stress and uncertainty for many different people. And, it’s during these times that it’s most important to make your mental health a priority.

How to Protect Your Mental Health During Coronavirus

#1. Don’t binge the news.

The pandemic is just one of many things going on right now, and suffice it to say, there’s no shortage of news out there. History is happening around us every minute, and thanks to 24-hour cable news and the internet, you could watch and read about it happening all day, every day. But, that doesn’t mean that you should.

Everyone needs a break from the news every now and then. With everything going on, it’s all too easy for the weight of the world to start weighing you down. Schedule time out of your day to catch up on events, and take a break from the news the rest of the time.

#2. Take care of your physical health.

Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, so make sure to schedule out some time each day to focus on physical fitness. Fitness centers may or may not be open in your community, but even if they’re closed, you can still get in a great workout from home.

Don’t worry so much about trying to get in a gym-quality workout every day. If you want to keep up with that at home, it’s entirely possible (and more power to you), but if going on a walk or doing a gentle yoga workout is the most you can bring yourself to do, know it’s far better than doing nothing. A little movement a day is a great start.

#3. Do something to give back, if possible.

There’s not a lot the average person can do about the murder hornets, the economic downturn, or the coronavirus pandemic, and everything going on right now can easily make you feel helpless. But, there’s a lot you can do in your community to support those around you. Here are a few ideas of ways you can help:

  • Give blood – Blood banks across the country have had to cancel blood drives due to the pandemic, and many are in need of donations.
  • Make masks – The CDC recommends that everyone wears a mask in public places where six feet of distance can be maintained. Making masks to donate to people in your community is easy and fun; you don’t even have to know how to sew!
  • Donate – More and more people are relying on local food banks right now, as well as many other nonprofit organizations. A donation of even $5 can go a long way.

#4. Stay connected to the people you love.

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean severing the connections you have with the people you love, and it shouldn’t. Make it a point to talk to the ones you love on a regular basis. If you can’t bring yourself to do yet another Zoom call, you can always do an old-fashioned phone call or even take a socially distanced walk with them.

Human beings are social animals and need other people in their lives. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to stay connected while still social distancing. You may just have to be a little more creative.

#5. Maintain your routine as much as possible.

Normal is the last thing most of us are feeling right now, and one of the best ways to re-establish a little normalcy during all of this craziness is to try to maintain a routine of some sort.

You may be working or studying from home, or maybe not at all. You may be in the midst of the last few weeks of your child’s school year from home, or you may be wondering how you’re going to keep them busy this summer without summer camps or sports. Whatever your situation, build a routine around it.

#6. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

If your Instagram feed is anything like mine, it’s full of beautiful loaves of bread, fabulous artwork, and impressive DIY projects. As Americans, most of us are not used to having endless amounts of free time on our hands, and there’s a tremendous amount of pressure to do something — to write the next great American novel, perhaps, or to organize every square inch of our homes, or transform into Arnold Schwarzenegger. But, if you don’t feel motivated right now, that’s OK.

In fact, it’s perfectly natural not to feel especially creative, motivated, or productive right now. If you can’t focus, it’s not a failure on your part. Take it easy on yourself, be patient, and give yourself license to take a break.

#7. Get outside help when you need it.

If you’re feeling lonely, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or you just need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to seek out mental health services near you. Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to see a therapist or counselor in person, but most are more than happy to talk with you over the phone or via Zoom or Google Hangouts.

#8. Know that this too shall pass.

We may not know how long this pandemic will go on for, but we do know that it will not go on forever. When everything starts to feel like it’s too much, think of that old Persian adage, “This too shall pass.”

Looking for a therapist, counselor, or other mental health professional near you? Start your search with Top Rated Local®. Top Rated Local allows you to read reviews from across the web, and makes it easy to compare businesses’ overall reputations’ side by side.

Find a mental health professional near you today!

Do I Need Therapy?

Everyone struggles from time to time, whether it’s due to work stress, relationship problems, family issues, or poor mental health. If you are currently struggling, it may be time for you to seek out a local therapist.

Signs You Could Benefit from Therapy

You are having inexplicable physical symptoms.

Many people do not realize that many mental health conditions come with physical symptoms. If you have seen a medical professional and all your tests are coming back negative, your doctor may suggest therapy for treatment. This is particularly true if you’re experiencing intestinal distress, as mental health and the digestive system are connected.

You feel stuck in a pattern of behavior.

You know your actions aren’t getting where you want to go, but you don’t know how to break the vicious cycle. If you are feeling trapped and unable to behave in a different, healthier way, talking to a therapist may help you. Whether it is staying in a toxic relationship, feeling trapped at an unsatisfying job, or using unhealthy coping mechanisms, it is possible to break negative patterns of behavior to live a healthier and happier life, and a therapist may help.

You feel out of control of your emotions.

Being more emotional than other people in your life doesn’t mean that you need therapy. However, these people can generally regulate their emotions to respond appropriately to situations. If you feel that you have no control over how you feel and it is causing problems, therapy may help you. For example, you might feel an overwhelming surge of rage over small inconveniences that has a negative impact on your relationships. If you’re feeling out of control emotionally, you may benefit in particular from cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to help with emotional regulation.

You’re unhappy with your life.

Things can’t always be perfect, and everyone experiences unhappiness with their circumstances from time to time. However, if you have a running dialogue in your head thinking about how you hate your life, or maybe even thoughts about how you would rather be dead, this means it is time to talk to a professional. A therapist can help you challenge those negative thought patterns and determine changes you can make in your life that will help you be happier.

You cope with alcohol or other drugs.

Drinking to cope with stress is common in our culture, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. If you are regularly using alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions, it’s a red flag that a deeper issue is lurking beneath the surface.

If there is any part of your life that causes distress that you feel hopeless about, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Professional therapists have helped millions of people work through their issues, and the right therapist may be able to help you as well.

About the Author

New Transitions Counseling Center offers cognitive behavioral therapy in Palatine, IL. We have a staff of dependable and affordable therapists who can help you with a variety of issues, from depression and anxiety to autism spectrum disorder to grief. If you are interested in learning whether we would be a good match, contact us for a free phone consultation.

How to Find a Therapist

Finding a therapist can be daunting, but when you are experiencing mental health problems or struggling in some other way personally, the right therapist can make all of the difference in the world. If you have never sought therapy before, you might feel overwhelmed. Here is a simple guide to finding a local therapist who can help you.

Consider What is Important to You

Start by thinking about what specialties you would like your therapist to have and whether or not there is a gender you would prefer talking to about personal issues. Also consider logistical concerns, such as where their office is located. You might like a therapist’s personality, but if you have to travel 45 minutes to and from their office, it will be a lot harder to stick with a regular therapeutic schedule. Pick a therapist who you can connect with and who will be convenient for you.

Understand the Different Types of Therapists

There are many different types of mental health professionals from whom you can receive therapy.

  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in psychiatric illnesses. They attended medical school and are licensed to prescribe medication. Psychiatrists are also trained in psychotherapy and psychological testing.
  • Psychologist: Psychologists are professionals with doctorates in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). While psychologists cannot prescribe medication, they are trained in psychotherapy and psychological testing.
  • Social Worker: Social workers provide social services, most commonly in healthcare settings, though there are a variety of environments in which they work. Social workers specialize in helping with interpersonal problems, providing empathy and counseling to help individuals thrive mentally and emotionally.
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): LPCs have a minimum of a master’s degree in counseling and 3,000 hours of post-grad experience in the field. They are licensed or certified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders.

Exploring Your Therapeutic Options

Now that you have an understanding of the different types of therapists and have determined which type is right for you, it’s time to find a list of professionals who meet your needs.

  • Go through your insurance. If you plan to use your health insurance to cover part or all of the cost of therapy, it’s best to start with a list of providers who are covered under your plan. You may be able to find a comprehensive list on your insurance company’s website, or you can contact a representative to ask for it.
  • Do a Psychology Today search. Psychology Today has a helpful tool on their website that is essentially Facebook for counselors. Local therapists in your area have profiles which you can read through, and you can even filter your search based on what you’re looking for specifically.

Keep in mind that it usually takes some time to develop a healing therapeutic relationship. It may take a few sessions before you feel comfortable opening up to your therapist. That being said, if you don’t feel you are the right fit, there is nothing wrong with moving on and finding a professional who better suits your needs.

About the Author

New Transitions Counseling Center provides compassionate and meaningful therapy to the residents of Palatine, IL. We specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy for individuals, couples, families, and groups. We pride ourselves on being dependable and affordable therapists. Contact us for a free phone consultation to determine whether one of our therapists is right for you.