It is safe to say that everyone is a little on edge nowadays. The past couple of years have been really stressful, and it is only human to feel the strain. Your mind can get tired just like your body can, and you need to make sure you’re taking care of it.
Maybe it is because we have only recently started paying attention to mental health as a society, but many still don’t know how to take care of their mind as they do their body. But hey, that’s okay. We’re all learning as we go along here.
If your mind is being weighed down by pent-up stress and emotions, it will affect your mood and productivity. Therefore you need to ensure your mind is in the best shape possible. Here is a list of simple things you can start doing today that will have an immense impact on your mental health.
You probably know that going outside and mingling with people can lift your mood. After all, it is the first thing our friends suggest we do after a breakup.
Going out and seeing the world in motion helps us put our own troubles in perspective. Especially if you go out into nature and try to feel how you are a part of the continuous journey of life from a single-celled organism to the humans we are today, you realize that ‘this too shall pass.’
Spending time with your friends can also boost your sense of safety and belongingness. You feel appreciated and taken care of. It makes our brain secrete dopamine, a hormone responsible for the feeling of happiness. Consider it your brain’s very own ‘pick me up.’
Worried that you might not have enough friends? According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, human beings can maintain a maximum of 150 meaningful relationships at once. But the most important is a group of 5 loved ones who form our innermost circle. Five meaningful friendships. That's all you need.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a pretty broad concept. It has a different meaning for everyone. However, there are some common grounds that everyone should cover.
Start with eating healthy and getting exercise on a regular basis. Make sure you get enough sleep, too. Nutritional Psychology suggests that maintaining a nutrient-dense diet and getting 45-minute exercise sessions 3-5 times a week can have a noticeable impact on your mental well-being.
However, if you start over-exercising or following high-intensity diets like keto that you can’t actually follow, it can have detrimental effects. Start slow. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and cut out junk food and alcohol as much as you can. Push yourself, yes. But know where your breaking point is. The goal is for you to improve your mental health. Not sticking to a routine that is causing you stress.
No matter how many tips and tricks you learn on the internet, if you feel you can’t get a grip on your stress, seek help from a qualified individual. Don’t stick to the outdated notion of strength. Just like your body needs treatment from a doctor every now and then, no matter how strong you are, so does your mind.
The American Psychological Association reports that 75% of the people who receive therapy benefit from it. They are better off at the end of it compared to 80% of the people who never receive any treatment at all.
If you have never been to therapy or don’t know how to find a therapist, you can start by looking at your health plans web page. If that doesn’t work out, you can visit one of the many online databases that match you up with a therapist who would be the right fit for you. Visiting a therapist can be a life-changing experience. Don’t put it off because you are eager to show other people how strong and self-sufficient you are.
Other than a therapist, you can also visit support groups if you are struggling with a specific issue. Support groups give you an opportunity to share your burdens with people who have similar experiences. You get to seek advice from people who have been where you are now. There is nothing shameful about seeking help. After all, banding together and helping each other is how we got here as a species.
If you are all alone by yourself, try doing something that challenges your brain. After all, just like any other part of your body, it needs exercise to stay healthy. You can read a book, watch a documentary, play a game that involves strategizing, or simply solve a puzzle. Ever wondered why we love solving difficult problems or gaining knowledge?
According to Carola Salvi, a research scientist at the University of Texas, having an insight (the eureka moment when you solve something) engages the brain's reward system. It is the same system that gets triggered when we notice a delicious plate of food or any other basic pleasures that come our way.
When you overcome something challenging, you get a sense of confidence and feel sure of your capabilities. You feel like a better person than you were some time ago. Getting into the habit of challenging yourself intellectually or even physically will definitely make you feel better about yourself.
This is probably the most important thing to remember. You won’t be perfect all the time. No matter how much you try to stick to the perfect lifestyle, there will be days when you eat an entire bowl of ice cream by yourself, when you drink too much alcohol or stay home all day watching cat videos on youtube.
That’s okay. Allow yourself the occasional indulgences. Allow yourself the freedom to make mistakes. We all need a day off every now and then when we do everything we want to do instead of the things we should be doing.
Falling short of expectations is the most human thing to do. Just know in your heart that you deserve to be better than you were yesterday. As Alfred once said to batman, we only fall so we can learn to pick ourselves up.
Self-improvement is more of a journey than a destination. It is like swimming in the ocean. When you first enter the waters, you get repeatedly hit by waves. But once you leave the shoreline behind, the waves start getting calmer, and you reach the tranquil waters that lie beyond. All you have to do is just keep swimming.