The majority of people realize just how important it is to take care of their physical health, and many more are beginning to realize that their mental health is just as important. Most would probably assume that mental health is something that only needs to be taken seriously if a mental illness is present, but this isn’t true. Like physical health, mental health should be treated in a proactive way, instead of a reactive way. Here are five of the best ways to take care of your mental health— with or without a mental illness.
#1: Get Enough Sleep Every Night
Sleeping is our body’s opportunity to rest and recharge from the day. The average adult needs anywhere from seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night, so make sure you’re aiming for that range. Things that can help you get a better night’s sleep include:
- Get more bright light exposure during the day
- Invest in a quality pillow and mattress
- Keep daytime naps short
- Limit alcohol, caffeine, food, and intense exercise late in the day
- Reduce blue light exposure (phones and computers) at night
- Try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day
If you’re having serious trouble getting a good night’s sleep, you may have to treat an underlying condition, such as a sleeping disorder. The majority of sleeping disorders can be treated with medicine/medical equipment and by practicing these tips above.
#2: Make Time for Your Favorite Activities
If you have a hobby that makes you happy, you should make more time to engage in that activity. When we’re engaged in something that brings us joy, our minds are automatically put at ease and our bodies are relaxed. It’s even better if this particular activity is a physical activity, such as dancing, swimming, or playing a sport. However, it doesn’t have to be a physical activity; it can be something like:
- D.I.Y. projects
- Playing a musical instrument
- Playing video games
- Reading a book
- Watching TV
- Writing poetry
#3: Prioritize Physical Health
Physical health and mental health are very connected, but you shouldn’t neglect one to focus on the other.
The nutrients found in food can have a positive impact on our mood and overall mental wellbeing. Nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains contain mood-boosting vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Regular physical activity helps release those “feel good” hormones that are associated with happiness, love, and overall feelings of well-being. If your favorite activity isn’t necessarily physical in nature, then you should try to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. This can be something as walking every morning, or you can engage in more intense exercise
#4: Stay Socially Connected with Others
Humans need social interaction to maintain their emotional health. This is why many people experienced feelings of anxiety and depression when they had to quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another example of social isolation negatively affecting mental is the elderly population. Many older individuals who live alone in their homes are at a higher risk of developing depression due to the fact that they’re socially isolated from others.
#5: Talk to a Therapist
Talking to a therapist shouldn’t be reserved only for those who have a mental illness. Again, mental health should be treated the same as physical health. This means that it’s a good idea to visit a therapist regularly in the same way you’d visit a doctor for a checkup. You may also want to check out Functional Medicine, such as at robinsonmed.com, which deals with the root causes of illnesses rather than just the symptoms.
However, some people aren’t comfortable with the idea of talking to a therapist. This is also why staying socially connected with others is important. Everyone should have someone they’re comfortable talking to when something is bothering them, whether it’s a therapist, friend, or family member. Just keep in mind that more serious problems should be discussed with the proper person, such as a medical professional, sexual abuse lawyer, or even the local authorities.
It should be noted that those with a confirmed mental illness may have to do more than what is listed above. Sometimes extensive therapy sessions and medication are needed, so it’s essential to follow all of the orders of your healthcare provider. Mental illness and mental health overall should be taken just as seriously as physical health. Everyone should strive to make mental health a priority in their wellness routine.