Five tips and tricks to keep your mental health in check.
We live in a time when people are stressed, easily irritated, overstimulated, and overwhelmed. This can lead to problems with our mental health, such as stress, anxiety, low mood, and depression. While most people know how important physical exercise is for their body’s health, they are not as aware of what they can do to protect their mental health. Learning how to protect one’s mental health can go a long way toward helping people navigate the ever-changing terrain they encounter and still come out feeling good.
“Many people do things like exercise, eat healthier food, and go for routine checkups to help protect their physical body, but they don’t do much beyond that to help protect their mental health,” explains Katie Sandler, personal development and career coach. “This can lead to an array of issues that ultimately lead to dissatisfaction with one’s life in general. People often feel stuck, disappointed, unhappy, and frustrated with no idea how to get ahead.”
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the country, affecting 40 million adults. Anxiety is when people have an irrational level of fear and worry about everyday situations.
They may experience a sense of overwhelm, increased heart rate, feel tired for no reason or feel revved up with pressured breath. Additionally, people may have depression or stress-related issues that keep them from living their life to the fullest.
When people suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, they may get stuck in their life, unable to make decisions, move forward, or achieve goals. It’s vital that people make protecting their mental health a high priority and that they do things regularly to be proactive in keeping a healthy mindset. Knowing these five things can help improve one’s mental health and quality of life.
■ Self-care. Making healthy living choices a high priority will go a long way toward protecting one’s mental health. This includes tending to the mind-body connection by eating healthy, regularly moving the body, spending time in nature, getting enough sleep each night, etc. Self-care should be at the top of the list for everyone because it impacts so many areas of one’s life.
■ Meditation. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation has been found to be beneficial for anxiety, depression, chronic pain, insomnia, sleep quality, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse recovery, eating behaviors, etc. The simple practice of daily meditation can help people become calmer, less reactive, achieve more equanimity, and feel a greater sense of contentment. Meditation is something many people stigmatize out of not understanding, but it’s a simple practice that anyone can do.
■ Boundaries. Having established and respected boundaries is a necessity for one’s mental health. Boundaries are a unique set of guidelines someone will follow to honor their values to feel life satisfaction. An essential part of self-care, they help people feel safe and in control.
■ Support system. Many people find it difficult to ask for help, but sometimes that’s what is needed most. There’s no shame in getting guidance or bouncing ideas off others. A support system can help people reduce stress and feel a sense of belonging. You are not in this alone.
■ Things that feed your soul. Everyone has something they enjoy doing that helps to energize their soul. Determine what those things are and then make it a “thing” to engage in them regularly. These things do not have to be big or complex. Whether taking a hike, reading, playing music, or something else, do the things that create joy.
“Put mental health care on your calendar or to-do list, just like you do other things,” added Sandler. “Your mental health is just as important as a dentist or hair appointment. Make time for the things that will help keep your mind in a good place.”