Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It encompasses how you feel toward yourself and others, how you cope with stress, and how you make good choices.
Good mental health is important for everyone — no matter what your age or stage in life. Here are some universal tips to boost your mental health.
1. Stay Physically Active
Research has repeatedly shown that staying active has positive benefits for your mental health, including reducing depression and anxiety. And you don’t have to be an athlete to stay active — go for a walk, practice yoga, or go dancing.
2. Do Something Social
Socializing with friends and family members is a great way to avoid isolation, stay connected, and relieve stress. Spending time with others can lift your mood and help you gain a fresh perspective. On the contrary, lack of social interaction can be damaging to mental health.
Laughter might be just what the doctor ordered! It can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Plus, it may also help relieve pain and boost your immune system. If you need a good laugh, try turning on a comedy TV show, spending time with kids, or reading jokes.
4. Get Outdoors
In general, we spend so much time on our phones these days, which can actually impact mental health. There’s something about being in nature that has a calming effect on the mind. And science has proven it again and again!
Getting outdoors can help reduce stress, improve mood, and improve attention. So, get off the couch, tear your eyes away from the screen, and go for a walk.
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Meditation can help you achieve relaxation and tranquility. It may also help you manage stress and reduce blood pressure. During hard times, meditation can help you refocus and cut through distractions in your mind.
Practicing meditation regularly can help reduce depression and anxiety. If don't have time for a full meditation routine, try deep breathing to help you calm down and relax.
6. Eat Healthy Food
When you eat good, you feel good! Your brain will function at its best when it has all the nutrients it needs. So, try to eat a balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables. And try to avoid foods that are high in refined sugars, which can worsen symptoms of depression.
7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Your brain needs sleep to process the day's activities and thoughts. Poor sleep is linked to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. But when you are already struggling with mental health, good sleep can be hard to come by.
If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try to create a calming bedtime routine to promote healthy sleep. You my also want to stick to a sleep schedule to help your body regulate its natural rhythms. Talk to a medical professional about sleep aids if you consistently struggle to get enough sleep. The underlying cause of poor sleep could be health related, like sleep apnea.
8. Visit a Professional
There is still some stigma around seeing a therapist or taking medication for mental illness — especially among older generations. Just like you would go to a doctor to treat a broken arm, you can visit a mental health professional to help you improve your mental wellbeing. These professionals may be able to offer treatment options, including behavioral therapy, medication, magnetic stimulation, and more.
9. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Studies have shown that individuals who make a conscious effort to count their blessings have better mental health. Writing down these things can help you make a dedicated effort to remember what you are grateful for, and it can help you reflect on the positives when you’re feeling down.
10. Take a Break
If you are feeling overwhelmed, one thing you can do is to just slow down and take a break. It’s okay to take a few minutes during the work day to regroup. And if you haven’t had a real vacation in a while, take a few days off work so you can focus on relaxation instead of fulfilling your responsibilities.
11. Serve Others
Volunteering is another great way to boost your mental health. When we focus on others, our own troubles and worries often fade into the background. Plus, helping others is rewarding and can help boost your self-esteem, confidence, and overall happiness.
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12. Achieve a Goal
Goals are a great way to measure progress and improve yourself. They can also help you feel accomplished, contributing to a positive mental state. However, goals should be realistic and achievable. Setting impossible goals can have the opposite effect and leave you feeling discouraged.
Coloring books can be a powerful tool for your mental health. Coloring is a relaxing activity that can help calm the mind and reduce stress. As you focus on filling in different sections of a coloring book, your brain actually relaxes. Plus, you get some amazing artwork out of the process.
14. Take a Bath
Baths can also improve your mental and physical health. The hot water and submergence in water can calm the nervous system and help reduce stress and anxiety. You can also use aromatherapy and bath bombs in your baths to enhance the benefits.
15. Spend Time with Animals
Having a pet or being around animals can decrease cortisol levels, which are tied to stress. Animals can also provide socialization, reducing loneliness and depression. Pet ownership can also help you have meaningful responsibilities that help you feel fulfilled.
There are many other ways that you can improve your mental health! We hope this list of activities provides ideas for you and your loved ones to be happier and healthier. Of course, if you are experiencing severe mental health symptoms, please seek professional help.