Whether you have a mental health condition or not, you should be taking steps to improve your mental wellness. For some, that may include seeking medical treatment and taking medications, as well as seeking therapy. For you, it might not be as complicated as that.
What we do is that people who are experiencing symptoms of mental illness aren’t advised by their health care provider to look after their diet and physical fitness.
(Patients with mental illness less likely to receive diet, exercise advice Science Daily, February 24, 2015).
Even though we know that they are linked. So, there is a knock-on effect when it comes to mental wellness and the rest of your health.
Changes in lifestyle can positively influence your mental health, which can help reduce the risk of issues like hypertension, diabetes, and other conditions.
It’s important to note as well, that those conditions are experienced at higher rates by people living with a mental illness.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most crucial ways that you can positively influence your mental health.
1. Improve Your Diet
This is a common theme. Your diet has a say in every one of these key areas of your life. That’s just the way it is.
So, while you won’t see it appear again in this list, it’s important to remember that it’s placed at number one for a very good reason. It’s one of the most important tips that we can offer you.
We know that diet is important, but just how important is it when it comes to your mental wellness? Well, it can be a positive influence, or it can be a negative influence.
Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a tale as old as time and for good reason, it improves your mental wellness.
Maintaining your mental wellness is the key to protecting your mental health. Eating fatty, processed foods can increase the risk of a mental health problem.
According to a recent study, mice experienced memory impairment, brain inflammation, and an increase in anxiety when they were given a diet high in fats. (https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223%2814%2900520-4/abstract).
While there are good fats (in nuts, avocados, and fish), it’s important to know what you’re eating.
Sugar is in practically everything, which is not good news for you. It should be limited in your diet. It isn’t just the risk of weight gain that it comes with, it can alter your sleep patterns, increase your stress levels, and can create an addictive response.
2. Exercise Often
Just like your diet, physical exercise is vital to every one of these key areas. If you have any existing conditions, you may want to speak to your primary care physician before you tackle a new workout.
It’s important to know what your body can and can’t handle in terms of exertion.
Your doctor can recommend appropriate exercises that you can try out. Otherwise, you can enjoy swimming, jogging, hiking, cycling, weight lifting, treadmill work, and well, whatever you want really.
The key is to choose activities that you enjoy. So, if you love soccer, think about joining a local team or getting a group of friends together to play.
If you prefer solitary workouts, consider an exercise bike.
You know exercise is crucial to your physical health, but it can also help you fight mental health problems and protect your mental wellness.
The fact that it also helps you maintain your weight is important for your physical health, as well as your mental wellness.
3. Manage Your Stress Levels
Mental illness and stress go hand in hand, they feed off of each other. So, taking the necessary steps to manage your stress can help you protect your mental wellness.
There are all different ways for you to manage your stress, but one of the most effective ways to do so is through mindfulness, meditation or mindfulness meditation.
According to research from Johns Hopkins, meditation can reduce stress, increase resilience, and improve the symptoms that are associated with depression and anxiety. (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/meditation_for_anxiety_and_depression).
Yoga is another excellent way to manage your stress. You can use the breathing tricks you learn in these exercises any time you start to feel anxiety building up.
4. Sleep Well
We have all had restless nights that leave us feeling completely drained of energy the following morning.
You know what it feels like – you can’t focus, your body wants fatty foods and sugary drinks, and you struggle to cope with your mood swings. Sleep is so important to your health.
So, instead of eating late, and watching TV in bed, you need to create positive habits.
Turn all your screens off at least an hour before bed, try a relaxation exercise before you get under the covers.
Go to bed at the same time each night and always get up at the same time. It will help you keep stress at bay.
5. Compliment Yourself
How you see yourself can heavily influence how you feel. So, think of something nice that you can say about yourself.
This is something that you can do to curb negative self-talk as it happens, but you don’t have to wait until those moments.
You can start your day by looking yourself in the eye and saying something nice about yourself.
6. Show Some Gratitude
There are linked between happiness, gratitude, and mental wellness.
You don’t have to keep a physical journal if that isn’t quite your thing, but you can still make a mental note of something you are thankful for.
You can do this after you wake up and again before bed. It helps you set the tone for the day as well as relieve some stress before bed.
7. Open Up
We all feel undervalued at times. Sometimes the best way to regain focus and realize that you are valued is by putting your trust in someone and opening up to talk about what’s going on with you.
Don’t make it all about you, though, listen to what they’re going through as well.
This will offer you an opportunity to find positives in their situation and recognize that you can do that for your own problems, too.
8. Pay It Forward
How you treat others can influence how you feel about yourself, too. So, instead of snapping at everyone and being unkind, try to extend compassion.
You can start by finding some way to pay it forward, whether it’s a suspended coffee at your favorite morning pit-stop or going out of your way to do someone a kindness. It will enrich your life.
9. Take a Break
You can’t, though, you have way too much to do. There’s no time for breaks! Breaks are for the weak of this world. Well, actually.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take a step away from a stressful situation, run through a breathing exercise, and take a short walk.
Breaks aren’t for the weak, they’re for people strong enough to recognize when they aren’t functioning at their peak.
10. Write it Down
Whether something is keeping you awake at night or you just feel itchy with anger over a situation, take the time to write it all out. It really can make a difference.