Do you remember the last time you talked to a mental health care professional or a friend because of your increasing stress and anxiety?
Are you among the majority of those who treat their mental health concerns as “it’ll be okay after some time?”
Does the stigma associated with depression and other mental health conditions stops you from talking about it?
Perhaps, you belong to the group that keeps bottling up their stress and don’t ask for a helping hand. As a human being, you do not deserve to be treated that way. There are things that you can do to improve your mental health, alleviate your mood, and live a full filling life.
Mental health, no doubt, is one of the most neglected aspects of our lives. The ways to improve mental health is a less researched topic by the general public. This article explains some psychology based mental health tips along with statistics on mental health conditions.
There are around 450 million people who have mental health conditions worldwide. These stats put mental disorders as the leading cause of disability and illness worldwide. Research says that nearly two-thirds of these affected individuals never seek professional help.
Depressive disorders rank as the fourth leading cause of the worldwide disease burden, and these are expected to be at #2 by the year 2020. Amid these alarming stats, it is only wise to know of the ways that help improve the mental health of a person.
Before typing those tips to improve mental health, I want to highlight the definitions of health and mental health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Health is not merely the absence of the disease.
A good mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his true potential, can work productively, can cope with the normal life stress, and can contribute positively to the community.
Tips to Improve Your Mental Health
Listed below are some of the psychology-based suggestions to improve your mental health and to stay emotionally healthy. These are tested methods that derive far better results than bottling up things.
Have you ever thought about why captors keep the prisoners in isolations for the purpose of torture?
It is because social isolation of otherwise healthy individuals will eventually lead to psychological and physical deterioration. Isolation is the worst form of torture that is often chosen for the prisoners.
This information is well-connected to all of us. Read on, and you’ll find out why.
The quality and quantity of social relations affect your mental and physical health and well-being. Research shows that individuals who are more socially connected to others in their network are generally healthy. These people tend to have far less mental health issues compared to those who have poor social connections.
Remember, the quality of relationships is far more important than the quantity. Living in a toxic relationship is even more challenging than living alone.
Healthy relationships are most important for your mental health. These relations could be your friends, family, or co-workers. They help you through:
- Emotional support
- Genuine advice
- Practical help
It is your loved ones who help build your self-confidence and show you the true value of yourself. Reaching out to your connections is not a sign of weakness; it is proof that humans are social creatures.
In the era of social media, we are all connected to the world from behind our screens. Nothing, however, can beat the value of face-to-face connections. Our social brains crave for live interactions with other humans. It all improves our mental health.
Here are a few tips to reach out to your connections, or to make new ones:
- Call a friend and plan a meetup.
- Ask your friend or neighbor to be your gym buddy.
- Do not compromise your real life relationships for virtual interaction. Get out from behind your computer screens and start interacting with your roommates and family members.
- Got no one to call? Ask a neighbor or a co-worker to join you for lunch or coffee.
- Join special interest groups in your community where you find people with common interests.
- Don’t be afraid to say hello to the strangers.
2. Stay active
Exercise is the forgotten foundation of mental health care. Evidence, however, is piling up, saying that exercise reduces anxiety and depression. It also improves the cognitive function. Many psychologists recommend exercise to their patients. Unlike months of effort to reduce weight from exercise, mental health gets immediate benefits from this form of activity.
Here are some other health benefits of exercise:
- Better sleep
- Stress relief
- Increase in energy and stamina
- Mood enhancement
- Weight loss
- Improved heart health
- Better self-esteem
- A sense of productivity
Have you ever tried to exercise after a stressful day at work?
Within as low as 5 minutes of exercise, you start feeling better. These mood improvements are thought to be caused by exercise-induced better circulation to the brain and some other complex cascade of events.
What if I hate doing exercise?
Well, there are a number of exercises to choose from. Often the term exercise brings the imagery of the gym. If you do not like going to the gym, you can use other forms of aerobic exercises to improve yourself mentally and physically. Some examples are:
- Martial Arts
If you still find yourself questioning which form of exercise to practice, you can do as follows meanwhile:
- Take a walk to your office, home, and grocery store.
- Dance to your favorite song
- Play basketball with the kids down the lane
- Throw a ball with a dog
- Cycle to an appointment rather than taking your car
Whatever form of physical activity you do, it’ll bring some mood enhancement your way.
(NOTE: Sitting behind your laptop is no physical activity)
Tips for starting better exercise routine for your mental health
- Do not aim for heavy workouts. Start with three 10-minute sessions of exercise each day. You can choose from multiple forms of exercise mentioned above.
- Do activities that engage both your arms and legs such as walking or swimming.
- After you have accomplished today’s exercise task, put a tick mark in front of the word “exercise” in your journal.
- Engage with a friend or a neighbor and make him your exercise buddy. You two can keep a check on each other.
- Try to shift your thoughts from “what happened today” to “how does my body feel NOW.” In other words, meditate.
- Repeat this routine at least 4 times a week.
3. Learn how to tackle stress
It is not the total avoidance of stress that is possible, but the management of stress that we can learn.
What is crucial for mental health?
It is the learning of how to keep stress under control, and that is why stress management strategies are the most important.
Not all stress is related to the negative events. For example, being promoted might lead to more work burden, but promotion is a good thing. Usually, the stress generated from the positive things needs better management of time.
Some of the signs of stress include aggressive behavior, isolation, poor concentration, nail-biting, lack of interest in life, nervousness, fear, feeling of over-burden, inability to make decisions, poor eating habits, lack of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed, excessive smoking or alcohol consumption, and crying feelings.
Have you noticed these sings lately? See where your stress is coming from and then deal accordingly.
Stressors come from four basic sources:
- Social stressors
Environmental stressors include pollution, traffic, crowd, crime, noise, and weather, etc. These are mostly the kinds of stressors that you cannot avoid.
Social stressors come from the roles that we practice in society such as being a parent, employee, guardian, or a husband. These stressors may present as financial problems, job interviews, presentations, lack of time, disagreement, divorce, the death of a beloved, and co-parenting.
Physiological stressors are the ones that affect our bodies, for example, illness, menopause, childbirth, poor nutrition, accidents, aging, and poor sleep.
Thoughts can create stress out of pain, negative thinking, daily life events, and poor living conditions. It is our thoughts that mostly determine the amount of effect the stressors will have on our day to day lives.
The question is, how to manage stress?
Stress is a daily life thing. You cannot avoid it entirely. What you can do is better management. Here are a few tips:
Practice the 4 A’s of stress relief:
- Avoid it if you can.
- Alter it if you cannot avoid it.
- Accept it if you cannot change it.
- Adapt to your conditions instead of cursing life.
4.Eat food that is designed to make you feel better
You have heard about the food affecting your heart health, but what about the food that improves your mental health?
Yes, certain foods help alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and some other mental health conditions.
People often think of creative activities when it comes to improving the cognitive function. Yet another way is through your gut. Listed below are 5 superfoods that are meant to improve your mental health.
Food rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Research has found out that our diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids that are important to mental health. There are two essential omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) that have significant biological activity in the central nervous system. Read the list of omega-3 fatty acid rich food that will keep you mentally happy and healthy:
- Salmon fish oil
- Chia seeds
- Alaskan salmon
- Atlantic mackerel
- Egg yolk
- Albacore tuna
- White fish
Add these foods to your diet to improve your mental health for good.
Broccoli, spinach, turnip, and mustard green have high levels of folic acid. A deficiency of folic acid is linked to mental health conditions such as depression. So, leafy green stuff is another way to good mental health.
Simple carbohydrates release the glucose at once and cause blood sugar spikes. Whereas, complex carbohydrates release glucose slowly and provide a steady source of glucose for the brain. Therefore, complex carbohydrates are good. Healthy sources include:
- Wild rice
- Whole-wheat products.
These are an excellent source of amino acid tryptophan that converts into serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for good mood. So, we need some more lean proteins on our plates.
It contains probiotics that have positive effects on certain mental health conditions. Eat yogurt, its good!
Also, check 11 of the Best Foods for Your Brain
5. Get enough sleep
There are 2 categories of people when it comes to poor mental health.
The ones that sleep excessively and the others that are sleep deprived.
Poor sleep has been linked to depression, anxiety, poor memory, weight gain, and reduced immune system. A good quality sleep is vital for a productive day.
Also, check 10 Super Supplements for Better Sleep
Sleep deprivation impairs our better thinking ability and makes us feel constantly tired. Peace of mind is directly linked to peaceful sleeping. Proper sleep helps your brain to function correctly. Get enough sleep for a good mental health.
It is the time that we start taking our mental health seriously. Other than physical health, you need to stay emotionally healthy as well. Try to incorporate the mental health tips mentioned in this article. These are tried and tested methods that are sure to make you feel better.
Cheers to your good mental health!