The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than one out of every five US adults lives with a mental illness. Top of the list includes anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. When not treated or managed, mental illnesses can cause unhappiness, also known as anhedonia, drug and substance abuse, unemployment, homelessness, and even suicide.
However, you can adopt essential self-care practices to keep your mind at ease. Self-care generally entails activities you reserve time for to improve your mental health and well-being. Here are some of the most impactful practices you can try.
1. Physical Activity
What’s good for the body is often good for the brain. It’s scientifically proven that physical exercise brightens your mood and slowly releases you from the hook of depression and anxiety. That two-hour gym session you’re overlooking could be the help to your brain you need, leaving you energized and relaxed.
Additionally, physical activity can help you embrace yourself more as you build a good physique through weight loss and muscle toning. This helps you avoid disorders like social anxiety and low self-esteem.
2. Healthy Sleep Patterns
Think about those mornings after a good night’s sleep. No matter how stressful the previous day was, much of your stress gets washed away overnight. Now think about the moody mornings when your alarm cuts your sleep short.
Inadequate hours and irregular, unhealthy sleeping patterns are big contributors to mental health problems. For example, concentration and coping with stress become a big issue when you’re sleep-deprived. Therefore, sleep for a minimum of seven hours and stick to a sleeping routine.
3. Seek Professional Help
Embrace professional help in the form of therapy and counseling. Book an appointment for professional advice whenever you feel like you’re at your breaking point. Therapy and counseling can help you become self-aware and better at problem-solving or coping. Additionally, the counseling environment is judgment-free, which guarantees emotional support.
You can always find a professional counselor near you online through Leadar, social media, and direct referrals.
4. Healthy Diet and Water
What we feel can be affected by what we eat. Complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, boost serotonin levels, keeping you focused, emotionally stable, and calm.
Additionally, the brain gets boosted by some healthy foods — leafy vegetables, oily fish, nuts, fermented food, and berries. These foods are well-known antioxidants that manage depression and stress.
Eating regularly during the day is important, as a drop in sugar levels may lead to irritation, nervousness, and moodiness. Likewise, remember to hydrate throughout the day. For perspective, 73 percent of the brain is made up of water. Less water means less serotonin and less brain energy. This can worsen mental health disorders. Doctors recommend drinking eight glasses of water daily.
Let go of the baggage. Be optimistic about the future and only focus on things you can change. Stop negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations. A positive mindset makes it easier to manipulate bad thoughts and prevent them from weighing you down.
For example, having a bad evening at work doesn’t mean you should be angry and sad for the rest of the week. Instead, be positive that it was only a bump in the road and solve the problem so that it doesn’t happen again.
6. Work on Your Social Life
Everybody needs somebody. While the world is now fast-paced and your personality may mean your social life isn’t perfect, having some form of meaningful interaction with other people is vital. Sharing your emotions and challenges with someone who cares is good for your mental health.
On the verge of a meltdown, your friends and family can offer emotional support, ease anxiety and stress, and turn around your situation. Therefore, try to meet new people through common interest groups, events, and normal interactions.
Meditation is an old tradition that has largely been used to manage emotions like anger, anxiety, and fear. Meditation is simply training your attention to attain a state of tranquility and positive emotions. Meditation clears your mind off your stressors, promotes mindfulness, and helps you manage negative feelings. Additionally, meditation promotes good sleep and general relaxation.
8. Take a Break
We live in a predominantly capitalistic world, which is a huge problem for our mental health. Dealing with work, debt, and relationships is exhausting; many people are left running on fumes.
This means that you may not have some alone time for self-awareness and to work on your feelings and mental health. You may, therefore, occasionally experience burnout and mental fog. However, take a break to recharge, think about your feelings, and focus on your well-being.
In a stupefying 2021 WHO report, overwork led to the deaths of 745,000 people in 2016 alone. This underlines the importance of taking a work hiatus to focus on yourself.
9. Digital Detox
Watch how you interact with technology. Technology inherently presents dangers to our mental well-being, like cyberbullying and isolation. Furthermore, excessive social media and gaming can lead to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
Technology isolates you from the world despite its immersive nature. Therefore, take some time off digital devices, cultivate healthy relationships, sleep better, and focus on your well-being. You can use this time to also focus on your talent or hobby.
10. Experience Nature
Nature has its way of providing relaxation. Walking down the beach helps a lot when you’re feeling low. Listening to the sounds of ocean waves and birds chirping and having some fresh air will help you relax and be free from anxiety.
Therefore, you can visit the parks, beaches, forests, and rivers. Additionally, grow plants and raise a pet, as they are part of nature’s gifts known to help with mental health.
Recently, mental health has been a priority, and rightly so, as we continue to see the ravaging effects of mental health disorders at work, school, and in relationships. In this fast-paced world, it’s more important to take a step back, examine your well-being, and listen to yourself.
The above self-care methods can help you develop self-awareness and skills to deal with mental health challenges. Practices like physical activity, meditation, and clean living are essential to anyone seeking to promote their mental health and well-being. And while these practices are beneficial, they require time and commitment.