What is Mental Health?
When we talk about mental health we are talking about “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” Being mentally or emotionally healthy means more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric illnesses.
Sometimes, life comes at you fast. Other times, the hustle and bustle just manages to catch up with you. With this can come, stress, anxiety, sadness or fear of the unknown — all of which can impact your mental health.
Incidentally, we’ve all been there. All of a sudden there is a great deal of uncertainty and we had to quickly adjust our lives. There could be so many things weighing on your mind — job security, finances, your and other people’s health, boredom and isolation, to name a few.
Managing your feelings and handling everyday challenges is an important part of maintaining your mental and emotional wellness. But sometimes this is easier said than done. How can you cope and take care of your mental health when everything is up in the air and could change so quickly?
Here are a few tips that you might find helpful.
Start your day on a positive note:
Instead of firing up your social media apps as soon as you wake up, take some time to give yourself a compliment or show gratitude to someone or something. Or do both! To summarize, promoting feelings of self-worth and keeping a journal of things or people you’re grateful for can have a powerful effect on your mood.
Stay in the present:
“A wandering mind is an unhappy mind.” That said, it can be easy to fixate on questions like: What if? Why me? and What’s next? But these questions can distract your mind from enjoying life and completing the tasks at hand.
Your coffee is hot. This new playlist sounds good. Your dog looks extra fluffy today. This banana tastes perfectly ripened. Whether it’s sound, taste, sight or smell, focusing on physical sensations you’re experiencing can help quieten your busy mind and ground you in the present moment.
Since, like many mammals, humans are social creatures. Both the quality and quantity of our social relationships impact our mental health, so it’s important to stay social. From phone calls to video chat and other digital tools, there are plenty of ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones.
Socializing can mean opening up to someone about a problem, but it can also mean just being kind to others more in general. Being kind to people, regardless of whether you know them or not, boosts happiness and builds self-esteem.
Besides, socializing with another person can be a great way to learn new things, reminisce about happy times in the past or even just laugh — as well as serve as a second set of eyes to find the silver lining in a stressful and frustrating situation. For instance, talk to a friendly face to calm your nervous system and relieve stress.
Take your sleep seriously:
We’re like moths to a flame when it comes to our devices.
Check this out. Do this. Find out how. Read this next.
Most nights, it’s probably pretty easy to choose this over getting some shut-eye. But that voice in the back of your mind saying, “It’s time for bed,” is almost always right. When we interact with and watch things on our devices, it may not feel mentally or emotionally stimulating, but it is. And our bedtime routine should be the things we do to wind down, not stimulate us.
Taking time to unplug and disconnect from the constant stream of emails and alerts will allow you to interact with people face to face and will help reduce the many feelings of FOMO that social media can often stir-up. In short, disconnect from electronics. Wherefore, lack of sleep as well as low-quality sleep can have a big impact on how you feel the next day.
Make yourself a priority:
In the first place, to practice self-care, take care of your body. Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body. In order to do this, it is important to:
- Eat a well-balanced nutritious diet — What you eat and don’t eat affects the way you think and feel
- Exercise, which can help decrease depression and anxiety, and improve moods.
- Take some time to relax, contemplate and pay attention to the positive things as you go about your day — even the small things. Write them down if you can, then you can reflect on them later if your mood is in need of a boost.
- Furthermore, get out into nature and avoid excessive use of alcohol and drugs.
Find purpose and meaning:
To begin with, partake in activities that make you feel happy, productive and challenge your creativity. Whether through drawing, taking an exercise class, going out to dinner with friends or caring for a pet, spending quality time with those who matter to you can make you feel good.
The meaning and purpose derived from helping others or the community can enrich and expand your life — and make you happier. Likewise, engaging in meditation and/or mindfulness can improve your state of mind and outlook on life.
Keep your perspective:
Avoiding difficult emotions, keeping feelings to yourself or stewing over problems reduces wellbeing.
Emotion processing involves being open to experiences and accepting all your feelings and thoughts, including the difficult ones. Consequently, it helps to look for constructive solutions, think flexibly and see situations from different perspectives when you are confronted by everyday problems.
Usually, you can maintain your perspective by asking yourself: Am I overestimating the likelihood of a negative outcome or am I underestimating my ability to cope?
Finally, get help if you need it. Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. So try these tips to re-balance yourself. Get ready for World Mental Health Day, as LOVZme calls on everyone to open up to mental health, to talk and to listen.