Great health starts with your mind. The state of our mind impacts our physical, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Good mental health allows you to reach your full potential, work productively, and form meaningful relationships, and make better choices for your physical well-being. However, as one gets busy, mental health often takes the backseat.
It’s a common mistake to separate physical health from mental health. In reality, mental and physical health are inseparable and you need to take care of both to maintain your overall well-being.
What is Good Mental Health?
Being cheerful and happy does not automatically mean you have good mental health. Good mental health is associated with your ability to cope with daily stresses and accomplish goals, according to the Office and Women’s Health. While mental health conditions can’t always be prevented, there are ways to protect yourself and reduce the effects of mental illness. It all starts with learning to manage daily stress.
How Can I Boost My Mental Health?
1. Find the right balance between positive and negative feelings. Having a positive outlook makes you more resilient, but this does not mean that you have to be happy all the time. To find the right balance, you need to acknowledge negative feelings as well and accept situations as they are. You also need to feel these emotions and be prepared to deal with what is causing these. What you want to avoid is allowing these negative emotions to dominate you, like when you keep recalling bad things that happened to you in the past.
To balance the positive and negative feelings within you, stay in the present moment. Focus on what is happening now and do what you can only accomplish at the present moment.
2. Eat right.
Sticking to a diet that’s high in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and a variety of proteins that meets your daily calorie needs can make you feel good physically and mentally. Avoid processed foods and anything that’s high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and sugars. Even when you’re on a diet for weight loss, you don’t have to starve yourself. Notice how hunger affects your mood. The goal is to have a healthy relationship with food. It is best to consult a nutritionist who can help you create a diet plan to meet your nutrition and weight loss goals.
The importance of exercise goes beyond achieving optimal weight and keeping your body healthy and strong. Regular exercise has also been known to boost mood, reduce stress, and improve focus. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You can also do a combination of both. Feeling stressed or anxious? Go outside and take a quick walk. Walking has been found to release endorphins that help you relax and feel better.
4. Get quality sleep.
Ever wondered why they asked you if you got up on the right side of the bed when you’re happy? That’s because good sleep increases your energy level and makes you feel better. A good night’s sleep also helps you perform better during the day. One study finds that those who slept less had “worse productivity, performance and safety outcomes.”
Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Getting enough sleep boosts your immune system, helps prevent weight gain, and improves mood.
5. Practice meditation.
Meditation guides you to focus on the now, which prevents you from thinking too much about bad things in the past and your worries about the future. It’s an effective way to decrease anxiety. What’s great about it is you can choose to do it anytime. Meditation is a skill that often involves finding a place where you can concentrate, calm your find, and focus your attention on one thing, like your breathing. The practice of meditation helps you sit still and stay calm in challenging situations.
6. Build healthy relationships.
As social beings, we need to have a support system. Having a strong support system has been linked to longer lifespans and better coping skills. It reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. Nurture meaningful relationships with family and friends. You can join communities or groups that share your values or interests.
7. Find your purpose.
People who know their purpose and goals for their life find it easier to move past failure and pick themselves back up. They know how to accept their feelings, deal with setbacks, and rebuild their confidence by learning and adapting. And this is all because they are focused on their purpose.
8. Plan a self-care day.
People like to-do lists. They’re great at making sure you get things done, but we often fail to include relaxation time in our calendars. Have a day where you unplug and do something you enjoy. Enjoy a massage, get a mani pedi, take a class, relax with a good book, take a bath, whatever you enjoy!
9. Get sun exposure.
Just 10 to 20 minutes of sun exposure will help you get more vitamin D, which boosts the production of serotonin. This hormone stabilizes the mood, regulates sleep and cravings, and promotes overall happiness. Managing stress is an acquired skill that you can master for better health. Take the steps above to manage your stress daily.