10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health and Well-Being
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it is something that fewer people pay attention to and fully understand. While you might readily notice if your stomach hurts, you might not take note of changes to your mental health as quickly. Because these situations can quickly deteriorate, it is important to work to improve your mental health and well-being. Here are ten ways to improve your mental health and well being.
1. Talk to your doctor.
Your primary care physician might not be a psychiatrist, but they do know how to help you find one or what prescriptions or activities might help improve your mental health. If you are struggling with something in particular, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor as soon as you notice that it is becoming a problem. Depression, for example, is not something that should be dealt with alone. Even if that doctor is not able to help you, they can refer you to someone.
2. See a therapist.
When my little sister was diagnosed with depression during her sophomore year of college, it took us over a year to convince her to see a therapist. She was already on medication, and while it did help to remove some of the symptoms of this mental health issue, it did little to actually solve the problem. It was only when she sat down and talked to someone who was trained to work with depression did she start to see real improvements. Talking to someone who has learned how to help individuals with anxiety and depression can be massively helpful. Even if you feel your mental health issues are relatively small, talking to a professional can really help.
3. Add exercise to your routine.
While exercise cannot cure depression or anxiety, it has been proven to improve your mental health. Exercise helps the body deal with both mental and physical stress, it triggers the release of endorphins, and it boost your confidence and your body’s overall function. You do not suddenly need to start running marathons, but walking a few miles four or five times a week can actually improve your mood significantly and help to combat any mental health issues you might be worrying about.
4. Write it down.
Studies have shown that the process of writing something down can actually help a person deal with an issue or worry. Putting your amorphous thoughts into concrete words will help you process those thoughts. Sometimes, our fears are big and unnamed. We try not to think about them because it only makes us more fearful. Writing down those thoughts forces us to confront the fear, anxiety, and pain we’re feeling, allows us to give names to those things, and then to deal with them.
5. Develop an attitude of gratitude.
Like exercise, being grateful for your life is not an instant cure to any of your mental health woes, but it is good maintenance. Whether or not you believe in a higher power, start training yourself to take mental notes of things that are going well for you and things that you are grateful for. Making a list of a few things you are grateful for every day is a great way to train yourself to have an attitude of gratitude. These don’t have to be big things. They can be as small as seeing a cute dog as you walked to work or hearing your favorite song on the radio as you drove to the store.
6. Learn about mental health.
Being in the dark about mental health does nothing for your own mental health. Many people, after being asked to take a depression survey by their doctors, are actually surprised to find that the hopelessness they are feeling is actually depression. Knowing what warning signs to look for can help you avoid a confrontation with a serious mental illness or help you realize that you have one and that you need to get help. It can also help you learn about techniques that will improve your mental health.
7. Eat a better diet.
Sugar and fat might sound good right now, but junk food does nothing for your body in the long run. Your mental health is as deeply tied to what you eat as your physical health is. There are also a number of foods that can actively improve your mood and which feed your brain. A couple examples include spinach and walnuts.
8. Build a support system.
Want to really improve your mental health? Create a support system. Whether you just want to feel better or whether you are struggling with something serious, reach out to the people around you. If there are people in your life that do not support your mental health, replace them with someone who does. There is no shame in leaning on other people and being around people that you love.
9. Lay off social media.
Lock yourself out of your social media accounts for an entire day or for blocks at a time. Social media can be a serious mental health killer, especially because everyone you follow seems to be so happy and living such great lives. Keep in mind that people usually only post the best things about their lives. Many recent studies also show a significant correlation with depression and social media. The more time people spend on social media, the more depressed they feel. Who knew getting off social media could be so good for you?
10. Learn to say no to people.
One of the biggest ways to wreck your mental health is to overwhelm yourself with tasks, activities, and events, simply because you do not want to say no to anyone. Learn to recognize when your plate is full and when you should just say no when someone asks you to do something or get involved in something. There’s nothing wrong with refusing to do something if it would only be damaging to your mental health to do it.
Setting boundaries with yourself, whether it’s aiming for a better diet, a nicer group of friends, more defined personal space and activities designed to relieve stress will improve mental health and well being. Give it a try. Also, if you have other tips about what’s been helpful to improving your mental health and well being, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you.