10 Habits to Build for Better Mental Health
Mental health is closely linked to physical, emotional and spiritual health. Therefore, optimal well-being requires careful balance across many areas of life. People who are mentally healthy have more fulfilling relationships, are more resilient to stress and illness, and generally feel happier. Here are 10 habits I recommend you implement into your life in order to achieve better mental health tomorrow.
1. Eat a Nutritious Diet
Consider food as the fuel that allows your body and brain to function — for better or for worse. Consuming a diet rich in vitamins and nutrients helps improve your cognitive functioning, boosts your mood and makes it easier to manage stress. Resist fast or convenience foods and instead choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts and seeds.
2. Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is restorative for the mind, body and soul. Getting the recommended eight hours nightly ensures that you will wake up with energy and a positive mindset. If you have trouble sleeping, cut back on caffeine and alcohol, shut off electronic devices at least an hour before bed and create a relaxing nighttime ritual.
3. Stay Active
Physical activities such as running, swimming or weightlifting are essential for overall health and wellness. You can think of the feel-good hormones released after exercise as your body’s natural anti-depressants. These chemicals, known as endorphins, can help turn your frown upside down and get you in a happier mood instantly.
Life means very little if you lack satisfying relationships. Social connection should be a top priority if you are hoping to improve your mental health. Having positive and supportive people around you prepares you to overcome setbacks that are naturally a part of life. Make face-to-face connection with people you care about weekly.
5. Start a Meditation Practice
My training in mindfulness has allowed me to see firsthand the amazing impact a meditation practice can have on mental health. Once you bring awareness to your thoughts, you are in a position to shift them in a positive, life-affirming direction. Start by sitting mindfully for 10 minutes each day. Pay attention to your breath or the sensations around you.
6. Laugh More Often
You’ve probably heard that “laughter is the best medicine.” Having a good body-shaking belly laugh can restore your sense of fun and improve your outlook. Hang out with your goofy friend, or check out a hilarious video or movie for a healthy dose of laughter.
7. Take Breaks
Your mental health can suffer when you take on too much at once. Sometimes, the best solution is to walk away from what’s stressing you out for a short period. Use your break to do something relaxing like deep breathing or visualization.
8. Fight Stress With Regular Self-Care
Rather than waiting until stress becomes too much to bear, build self-care and relaxation into your routine. Find ways to nurture yourself daily, whether it’s through eating wholesome meals, taking a warm bubble bath or listening to soothing music. If you feel overwhelmed with stress or anxiety, you may need to see a professional therapist like me for clinical mental health counseling.
9. Spend Time in Nature
Nature has curative powers. Studies show that spending time outside each day can fight anxiety and depression. Take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or local park, or lace up your sneakers or boots for an outdoor hike.
10. Live According to Your Purpose
Human beings have an inherent need to lead purposeful lives. Sometimes, this translates to working in a profession in which you can be of service to others. However, you can also live a meaningful life by developing hobbies or passions that matter to you. Start a volunteer commitment or learn how to dance, paint or garden.
Being mentally healthy is no small task, and incorporating new practices into your life can seem overwhelming. If you need help enhancing your mental health and well-being, a health coach and therapist can assist you. Contact me for an appointment and receive professional guidance to experience a brighter mood, a more positive outlook and the coping skills to effectively face life’s hardships.