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
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.
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.