Nowadays, mental health is becoming a focal point of many conversations. You might notice people talking about mental health on your favorite shows, social media, radio programs, podcasts, and even in public places.
Although mental health is a topic widely recognized by many people, the meaning of the term itself is still misinterpreted. That said, if you’ve heard the term before and are still unsure what ‘mental health’ is, don’t worry; you’re not alone. So, what does it refer to, anyway?
Mental health refers to your social, psychological, and emotional well-being. It involves how you manage your feelings, control your emotions, communicate with others, think about yourself, and deal with the challenges presented right before you.
In addition, mental health is more than a topic based on mental illnesses and disorders. And it’s more than just being free from the symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and other detrimental mental health disorders.
The path to positive mental health starts with you, but how? In this article, you’ll discover the essential steps you need to take to improve your overall mental health and well-being. Read on to learn more.
What Are The Mental Health Conditions You Should Be Wary Of?
Before anything else, it’s important to understand the risk of neglecting your mental health. Below are the most common mental health problems anyone can experience over a lifetime.
- Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that refers to an uncontrollable response of fear and panic to a specific situation. Aside from the emotional responses, physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat and sweating, may also occur, especially in moderate to severe cases.
If your anxieties and fears are becoming more severe each day, consider seeking professional help to get treated. For more information about treating anxiety disorder, visit https://apibhs.com/anxiety-treatment or other similar resources.
Also known as major depressive disorder, depression is a common mood disorder that negatively affects how you think, feel, and act. It brings intense feelings of sorrow and loss of interest in many things (including your favorite hobbies).
In addition, depression isn’t just about feelings of sadness. It also refers to difficulties of getting through the day or thoughts about a life not worth living. And most importantly, severe cases can lead to suicide if not addressed as soon as possible.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may develop after someone experiences a traumatic, shocking, and dangerous event. This includes the death of a loved one, physical accidents, witnessing a violent crime, hearing sorrowful stories, and more.
It’s normal to exhibit feelings of fear after experiencing a traumatic event. However, if the trauma persists for months or comes back a year after, it may be a sign of PTSD (e.g., flashbacks and nightmares).
If you or a loved one is suffering from any of these mental health conditions, seek professional help right away. Mental health experts can create a treatment program that’s right for you, which may include therapies and medications, depending on your condition.
What Are The Ways To Improve Your Mental Well-Being?
Now that you understand the potential risk of neglecting your mental well-being, it’s time to learn how to improve and maintain positive mental and emotional health.
- Build A Balanced, Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is crucial not only to physical health but also to your mental and emotional well-being. It can help you feel better and heal your body faster. Also, you don’t have to change the way you eat all at once. Take it step-by-step and see if some of these tips can help you.
- Eat Regularly: Make sure to eat three full meals a day every six hours (e.g., 6 a.m., 12nn, 6 p.m.). This is to ensure stable blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar levels drop, you might feel weak, powerless, and moody.
- Drink Water: Getting dehydrated can affect your mood, behavior, and concentration. You might become temperamental if your body suffers even from mild dehydration. To fix that, drink at least eight cups or two liters of water every day.
- Eat Healthy Fats: Fats aren’t necessarily the worst thing to consume. In fact, your brain needs a good supply of fats to function properly. However, these fats should come from healthy sources, such as olive oil, avocado, oily fish, milk, eggs, nuts, and more.
- Consume Whole Foods: Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, and grains. They are filled with essential vitamins and minerals to keep your brain healthy and functional. These include vitamins B, C, D, and E, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
- Invest In Protein-Rich Food: Protein is made up of essential amino acids that help process your behavior and regulate your mood. It can be found in animal-based (meat, poultry, fish, and seafood) and plant-based sources (nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits).
- Check Your Gut Health: Your gut can slow down or speed up your digestion if it detects your gloomy behavior. To promote gut health, consume probiotic-, prebiotic-, and fiber-rich foods (e.g., kimchi, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, and whole grain).
- Avoid Caffeine: It’s okay to drink coffee early in the morning but not when it’s late in the afternoon or past midnight. Caffeine can interrupt your sleep cycle and induce sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, which can affect your mood and behavior.
Follow all these tips to boost your mood and promote healthy mental well-being.
- Engage In Physical Activities
Performing physical activities (e.g., exercise and workouts) benefits your mental well-being in many ways, such as:
- It reduces your stress.
- It improves your mood and behavior.
- It promotes a good night’s sleep.
- It helps you cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- It boosts your memory and thinking.
- It improves your self-confidence.
Physical activities may vary depending on your needs. Also, you don’t have to apply for a gym membership just to get yourself moving. Instead, perform the activities you find enjoyable based on your health, physique, and preferences.
To determine what works best for you, try doing physical activities and keep those that suit your needs. You may start with the following:
- Brisk Walk: Take a walk around your local community for at least 10-15 minutes per day. Then, increase the duration by five minutes every day to improve your muscle strength and endurance. Always drink water to replenish the lost fluids from your body as you sweat.
- Exercise At Home: You don’t need a gym to exercise; you just have to be resourceful. If you need to lift small weights, grab a couple of empty bottles and fill them with water. Or, you may focus on bodyweight routines, such as push-ups, sit-ups, and crunches.
- Do Gardening: Gardening is no simple task. It demands a lot of physical work, especially when there are many holes to dig and pots to lift and rearrange. This is why gardening is a good activity to consider.
- Do Household Chores: Doing simple household chores is one way to get yourself moving. Not only are you able to clean your house, but you’re also able to improve your health. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
- Have A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is crucial not only for your physical health but also for your mental well-being. According to a 2021 study, experts found that those with less than six hours of sleep are more likely to experience mental distress than those with more than six hours of sleep.
However, the duration of your sleep isn’t enough to improve your mental health. You should also consider the quality of your sleep. If you always wake up in the middle of your sleep, you may be at risk of experiencing mental health symptoms.
So, how can you achieve a good night’s sleep? Here are some helpful tips you might want to try:
- Create A Schedule: Encourage yourself to wake up and sleep at the same time daily, including holidays and weekends. For example, try sleeping at 9:00 p.m. and waking up at 5:00 a.m. every day.
- Perform Sleep Rituals: These may include taking a bath, listening to white noise, and reading books before sleeping. Make these rituals a regular habit, so your body will know when it’s time for you to sleep.
- Avoid Electronics Before Bedtime: Keep your hands off your mobile devices, televisions, laptops, and PCs before bedtime. The blue light they emit can reduce your body’s natural melatonin and prevent you from falling asleep.
- Make Your Bedroom Sleep-Inducing: A comfortable sleeping environment is crucial to the quality of your sleep. To make your bedroom sleep-inducing, you need to keep your room cool, dark, quiet, and cottony soft.
- Reduce Water Intake Before Bedtime: If you drink plenty of water before bedtime, you might wake up in the middle of your sleep to urinate. This is called nocturia; it negatively affects your sleep cycle and increases the risk of insomnia.
If you still find it difficult to maintain a good night’s sleep despite the tips above, consult a sleep specialist to determine if you have a sleep disorder. If you do, they might advise you to attend psychotherapy sessions (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy) to address the issue effectively.
- Take A Step Back From Social Media
In social media, people can share their achievements and happiness in life. Keeping yourself updated in their lives may cause you to question your own worth, which promotes feelings of depression and anxiety. This is why it’s important to spend less time on social media, but how?
Here are some tips that may help you take a break from social media:
- Don’t Start Your Day With Social Media: Avoid checking your accounts before 10 in the morning. Focus on your wake-up routine (e.g., cooking breakfast and skincare) instead of checking other people’s statuses.
- Turn Off Your Notifications: Notifications can disrupt you from being productive. They pull your attention away and encourage you to check your phone, which increases your time on social media. So, turn off your notifications instead.
- Keep Your Phone Away Before Bedtime: Store your mobile device in places you can’t easily reach before sleep. This will prevent you from checking your social media accounts, helping you fall asleep.
- Do Other Activities: Instead of wasting your time on social media, think of other healthy activities you can do. You can read books, learn a new language, try a new recipe, create a novel, or exercise.
- Create Strong, Healthy Relationships
Fostering strong and healthy relationships offers positive effects on your mental well-being. For example, having healthy conversations with your friends can:
- Make you feel less anxious, stressed, and depressed.
- Provide the mental and emotional support you need.
- Make your life more meaningful.
There are many ways to establish healthy connections and nurture relationships, such as:
- Learn To Listen: Everyone wants to be heard. So, instead of giving unsolicited advice, listen carefully and understand what other people say. Sometimes, lending your ears is the best way to respond to other people’s stories.
- Choose Your Questions Wisely: After other people speak, ask them questions about what was discussed, but be careful. Make sure your questions won’t put them in a bad light. You can start your question with, ‘Did you mention….’
- Share At The Right Time: Do not interfere while others are speaking. Let them finish everything they want to say before sharing your own stories. This shows you’re interested in them, which makes them feel more valued.
- Pay Attention: Focus your attention not only on other people’s voices but also on facial expressions. This will help you better understand how they feel and allow you to cultivate more meaningful conversations, leading to trustworthy relationships.
- Be Positive: When you start a conversation, it’s tempting to gossip on topics that ignite negative reactions, such as politics, religion, and office issues. However, it’s best to avoid negativities that may cause you stress and focus on inspiring thoughts instead.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall health and quality of life. Although some things are out of your control, adding these simple habits can contribute to greater well-being.