Improving mental health doesn’t happen overnight. The process can take time, and setbacks are common. The important thing to remember is that mental and physical well-being is not a fixed endpoint. Mental health can fluctuate, and people can regress into old patterns.
Improving mental health is about monitoring how you feel and knowing which steps to take when you find yourself feeling less than 100%. Talking to a licensed psychiatrist can be a great starting point for improving your mental health. Additionally, you can implement measures in your personal life to improve your mental and physical health.
Maintaining a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet does not have to be difficult or complicated to maintain. The most important aspect of a healthy diet is eating whole foods with vital nutrients. Avoid eating too many processed foods, or foods high in sugar, as they can lead to fatigue and brain fog.
A healthy diet also does not have to be overly restrictive. Putting too much pressure on yourself to eat a strict diet can lead to more stress and worsened mental health. As long as your diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you should not feel guilty about submitting to unhealthy cravings from time to time.
On the other hand, dietary restrictions can significantly improve mental and physical well-being. If you have an intolerance, eliminating lactose or gluten can lead to significant changes in energy and mental health. If you think you have an intolerance, consult your doctor about which foods to eliminate from your diet.
Monitoring caffeine intake can also help with mental health. Consuming too much caffeine can exacerbate anxiety and lead to sleeping problems, which in turn can worsen symptoms of depression and stress.
Daily Exercise Routine
Taking the first step towards exercising can be daunting. But you don’t have to go full-tilt into high-intensity training or difficult yoga postures. Starting small can have a significant impact on mental and physical well-being.
Low-intensity activities are a great place to start. Even activities like walking the dog or a 10-minute bike ride can improve energy and mental health. Not only will they help physical well-being, but they are also a great way to clear your head and get away from the stressful aspects of daily life.
It’s important to choose an exercise routine that is at your level and that you feel comfortable with. Some will find encouragement by hitting the gym and seeing others working towards their progress, while others might prefer to follow an online workout video or go for a jog around their neighborhood.
Stretching can also relieve stress and improve mental health, as feelings of stress and anxiety can be harbored intense areas or manifest themselves as bodily aches and pain.
For the most part, whichever form of exercise you choose will help clear your head of negative or stressful thoughts, as exercising generally takes focus, leaving little room for intrusive thoughts.
Avoiding Stressful Activities
Stress is an inevitable part of almost everyone’s life. While we can’t always control stressful situations, we can remove ourselves from potentially stressful environments and avoid situations we know to be stressful based on past experiences.
Don’t feel bad saying no. The people-pleaser in you may feel bad for not taking on extra work or helping out a friend. Taking on too much work and spreading yourself too thin can lead to a ripple effect of poor habits like not sleeping or eating properly that worsen mental health. Making sure you have enough time to relax and decompress in a day can greatly increase mental and physical well-being.
Try to avoid people or places that stress you out. Socializing can be draining, and attending a social event when you are stressed or not feeling like yourself can lead to feelings of anxiety and exhaustion. Spending time alone may not sound appealing to some, but taking control of your social relationships to focus more on yourself will benefit your mental health in the long run.
Establishing Healthy Hobbies
Having go-to hobbies that help you relax can be an excellent tool for bettering mental health. Try to choose something that makes you feel happy and stress-free. Spending time on a computer or mobile device might seem relaxing but can often be stress-inducing depending on the type of content being ingested.
Activities like reading or writing are great ways to improve mental health, as they can often provide introspective insight or new perspectives on life. Immersing yourself in a book can take you away from real-world stress, and creative writing, or just simply writing down your thoughts can help you work through anything that might be troubling you.
Manual activities like cooking, music, or art can improve mental health as well, especially for people who spend long hours at a desk or whose daily lives include minimal movement. Manual hobbies require you to be relaxed and in the moment and can help you discover latent creativity that can boost your mood.
Getting outside when feasible is also highly recommended and is known to improve mood and mental health. If possible, try to get outside early in the morning, even if it’s just for a few minutes.