In recent years mental health has become less and less of a taboo subject. Instead of our parents’ generation who were taught to take a nap when feeling “depressed,” younger people nowadays are talking more and more about mental illness, and their personal struggles with it. With that being said, just because people are talking about mental health doesn’t mean they know how to improve upon it, last time I checked your favorite influencer is not a mental health counselor. But don’t worry because here are 10 things you can do to improve your mental health from a film and TV major from art school. Disclaimer: I am clearly not a doctor, but all information provided has been scientifically proven to improve mental health, and that’s on periodt.
Exercise is not only a good way to keep in shape, but does wonders for your mental health. Daily exercise can help to decrease depression and anxiety, and is a natural mood booster. Even if you are someone who despises working out, don’t fret because working out doesn’t have to just be lifting weights, or running crazy distances. Instead you can take a dance lesson for example, or join an intramural kickball league at your school. Even if that seems too much for you, just remember to start out small, and improve upon it every day. So get that body moving, and have fun. Just make sure to drink plenty of water which by the way is also great for your mental health.
2. Eat Nutritious and Well Balanced Meals
Obviously a nutritious diet will make you feel better physically, but eating foods with the nutrients your body needs will keep your mind sharp, as well as lower your anxiety and stress, while also improving your mood. Hearing this is already improving my mood since stress is one of the quickest ways to age you, and I can’t afford botox. On a more serious note, not consuming enough of certain nutrients can be linked to some mental illness. Like vitamin B12 for example, if a person has low levels of vitamin B12 they may be prone to depression. So for better mental health try to maintain a well balanced diet, rich in the nutrients your body as well as your mind need.
3. Talk in positive
You have value, so treat yourself with the kindness, and respect you deserve. Avoid self-criticism, which is easy to do when you only speak in positive, that way when you do speak negatively to yourself, or even more importantly hear someone speak negatively to you, you can recognize it, and not internalize it. Talking in positive, doesn’t mean you won’t have negative emotions, such as sadness or anger. In fact these emotions are not only normal, but are essential to feel so you can work through them. Just don’t let negative emotions consume you, it is counter productive to hold on to negative feelings, instead try to hold on to the positive feelings about yourself.
4. Be Present
Most people have a bad habit of living in the past or future tripping, instead try to be present, and live in the moment. Negative things that have happened to you in the past, are literally in the past, and you can’t change them, so it is not helpful for you to ruminate on them. Instead focus your energy on what you can do in the here and now. If that is hard for you to do, try to put a constructive spin on negative moments from your past. I do this by trying to look at every life experience as a golden opportunity to learn, and grow as a person. It is also not healthy to always be worrying about the future, the future will be here before you know it, so you don’t want to miss out on the good things that are happening right now all around you.
5. Practice Gratitude
Make a daily gratitude list, and focus on all the good things you have in your life instead of all of the things you don’t. This can do wonders for your mental health because it helps you be grateful for the life you have, which can lead you to have a whole new outlook on your life. When you are able to recognize all the good things you have in your life then you are able to lead a much happier life. It’s like that Sheryl Crow song “Soak Up The Sun,” “It’s not having what you want It’s wanting what you’ve got.” I find it helpful for people to practice gratitude by starting their day off with a gratitude list, either by saying it in their head, or writing it down in a journal. Personally, I like to write my daily gratitudes on post it notes, and stick these notes on my bedroom door. That way they are the first thing I see every morning before I leave my house.
6. Get A Good Night Of Sleep
There is a reason people who don’t get enough sleep are grouchy the next day, getting enough sleep is essential to good mental health. The short term effect of not getting enough sleep can make you more prone to anger or annoyance the following day, but the long term effect of not getting a good night sleep can lead to you being depressed. You can ensure you get a quality night of sleep by making yourself a regular sleep schedule, and sticking to it.
7. Learn How To Manage Your Stress
Unfortunately everyone stresses out at one point or another. Even the most seasoned yogi can sometimes find themselves in a stressful moment, stress is just a natural part of life. Why it is beneficial to your mental health to find good coping skills to deal with your stress. There are many things you can do to reduce stress like going for a walk, writing in a journal, doing any form of exercise, etc. Another great way to relieve your stress is through laughter, and smiling more. There is definitely truth to the saying “laughter is the best medicine.” Research has shown finding humor in your daily life, and laughing in general can ease pain, boost your immune system, relax your body, and reduce stress.
8. Be Mindful
Mindfulness can be anything from meditation to prayer. By relaxing your brain through mindfulness, you can improve your overall outlook on life, and have a more positive state of mind. It is scientifically proven that meditation can make a person feel more calm, and improve the effects of therapy.
9. Try To Avoid Alcohol, Drugs, And Nicotine
I know it’s hard, especially when you’re a young adult, but try to avoid drugs, and drink as minimally as possible. Besides alcohol being a depressant, many people sadly use alcohol, and drugs to self medicate when in reality consuming alcohol and drugs only aggravates mental illness.
10. Get Help
When you really need it, don’t be afraid to get help with your mental health, either through therapy or any other kind of medical professional. Your mental health is a serious issue, and ensuring you are getting the help you need is not a sign of weakness, but strength.