Last Updated on 3 months by Isreal Olabanji DST RN
Do you know that mental health dictates your feelings, thinking, and behavior in daily life?
Mental health is all about your emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Most people think of mental health as living without any diagnosable conditions such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression but this is not the case.
Some of the things that affect our mental health include biological factors (certain genes and gene variations), social and financial circumstances, human rights violations, gender discrimination, and our lifestyle choices.
Those with strong mental health are capable of overcoming challenges, coping with stress, building strong relationships, and recovering from any problems that life throws their way.
As we have observed above, there are many factors that affect mental health. While some are outside of our control, there are many that we can control.
Here are some tips and changes you need to adapt to stay in control of your mental health.
1. Check your diet
Before you get any further, start with the food you eat.
While you strive to have a balanced diet for your physical well-being, you should also consider foods that are good for mental health.
Lack of certain nutrients in the body often results in mental illness, for instance, a vitamin B12 deficiency can result in depression.
An unhealthy diet can disrupt your sleep, weaken your immune system, sap your energy, and take a toll on your mood and brain function. Caffeine, sugary snacks, alcohol, and fried food can adversely affect your mood and your mental health in general.
However, foods that are rich in healthy fats and low in sugar including avocados, fresh fruits, greens, and nuts are best for your brain.
Those rich in protein increase dopamine, norepinephrine, and tyrosine that keep you active and alert.
Tip: Alcohol will only solve your mental problems for a short time but will aggravate your problems in the long run. If you must drink, keep it moderate and have a drink of water after each alcoholic one.
2. Sleep well
Sleeping well doesn’t mean you have to go to bed early and wake up late, no – in fact, this is not advisable.
Every adult needs to sleep for at least 7 hours – anything less than that is short sleep and is not healthy for your body and brain.
Lack of adequate sleep (less than 7 hours) for adults has been associated with chronic conditions and illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
There are some things you can do to improve your sleep.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and large meals before you get to bed.
- Stay away from electronic devices at least for an hour before your sleep – and if possible, keep the electronic devices away from your bedroom.
- Switch off the lights and make your bedroom quiet and at a comfortable temperature.
- Staying active during the day makes you catch some sleep easily during the night.
- Practice sleeping and waking up at the same time every day even on weekends.
Physical exercise and activity releases powerful chemicals called endorphins, that provide added energy and boost your mood.
Exercise is not all about going to the gym or participating in sports.
A simple walk in your garden neighborhood can help you stay active. Make exercise a part of your daily life.
For instance, you can use the stairs instead of the lifts, switch on your radio and start dancing to your favorite music – it is all part of exercise and is good for your body and brain.
Exercise reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.
Just remember, exercise is more fun and enjoyable when you do the things you love, like dancing or cycling. You don’t have to engage in vigorous gym workouts – especially if you are starting out.
A 30-minute workout per day will go a long way in ensuring that you stay fit both physically and mentally.
4. Establish a connection with people
The people around you and the relationship you share can affect your mental health.
Mental well-being starts with building good relationships with others.
When you have someone to talk to freely and express your feelings, you can easily share with them your experiences – both good and bad. Again, good relationships with people help you to build your self-worth. If those around you value you so much, you will definitely think positively and have a sense of belonging.
Start establishing a connection with your family and move on to your friends.
You can also establish stronger relationships by taking part in community-based projects. Volunteer at your local shelter, your children’s school, the local hospital or nursing home, there are endless opportunities to create connections and be of service.
You can also take advantage of technology to establish a connection with people. There are many apps like Skype that you can use to stay connected with your family and friends – especially if you live far apart.
However, do not rely so much on technology that you lose touch of physical connections. Technology is a complementary method not a substitute to connecting people.
Your present is more important than your past and your future. You must learn to stay in the present by bringing what is within you into the world and this can only be achieved through meditation.
There are many ways to meditate including transcendental meditation, prayer, walking in nature, hiking, mindfulness and yoga. Do what resonates best with you .
Find a quiet place without any distractions and then determine the right posture, where you feel comfortable – it could be lying down, sitting, walking, or any other provided you feel comfortable.
Focus your attention on something – maybe an object, a word or a set of words, or even your breathing.
Meditation helps you improve your relationships, lowers stress, and enhances your memory and focus.
For better results, always strive for mindfulness meditation at least once a day.
6. Be a giver and practice gratitude
You should be more of a giver than a receiver. Acts of kindness and giving can help you improve your mental health and well-being.
Giving helps you connect with other people while creating positive feelings and a sense of reward. Remember, even the little things matter – a simple thank you to a friend or family member for something they did for you goes a long way.
Volunteer your time and/or money to help at a hospital, school, or home care. Offer to babysit your neighbour’s kids, help an elderly neighbor with their lawn, help others who may be going through bereavement, illness or the birth of a new baby. Look out for opportunities to give.
Practicing gratitude gives you a different view of life.We are all blessed in one way or another. Identify the things you are grateful for and write them down. This helps you to focus your mind away from problems.
7. Don’t be afraid to seek help
Not all of us can take care of our mental health on our own – no one is superhuman.
Many people feel ashamed and embarrassed to seek help for their mental health.
However, you should never be embarrassed to seek help from a psychiatrist, therapist, or your doctor to help you strengthen your mental health. Gone are the days when there was so much stigma in seeking help.
Technology has also made it easier to seek help without having to move around – try online remote therapy.
How to find the right therapist?
Mental health is playing an important role in the physical health of an individual. If you are not paying attention to it, then it can cause several issues. Well, these issues can also be very harmful to your overall health. You can see that many people are suffering from mental disorders and also looking for the right treatments. The different types of mental problems that one can suffer from are depression, anxiety, panic attacks and much more. To cope up with all these mental health problems, one can easily take help from several methods.
There are many things we can do to support your mental health including watching what you eat, sleeping well, and exercising. These are things you can do on your own. Remember that establishing stronger relationships with people is great for your mental health. Should you find any challenges in maintaining or improving your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
Author: Christopher G. Aiello
Mr. Aiello has a reputable 30+ year trajectory in law practice. Having been selected for multiple recognitions and awards, he practices in the Superior Court of New Jersey in both the trial court section and the appellate divisions, the Workers’ Compensation Court, and Municipal Courts. He has appeared in dozens of televised, print and internet media. Now, he’s dedicated in full to his law firm Aiello, Harris, Marth, Tunnero & Schiffman P.C.
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