Mental health is a very serious topic, especially since many people struggle with their everyday tasks due to some form of mental health issue. It can be discouraging and upsetting to feel as if you have no motivation or drive due to something you cannot control and most certainly would not have chosen if given the choice. However, there are daily steps you can take to ease the load on your mental state that will contribute to a sound mind, body, and overall better quality of life. Today, I will be highlighting some easy and rewarding ways to enhance your mental health and make life less overwhelming on a day-to-day basis.
Starting off your day by setting intentions allows you the opportunity to center yourself, focus on what you need for the day, and evaluate your state-of-mind. It is very beneficial to your mental health to begin the day with a plan in place. When intentions are set, they give us the motivation to get done what needs to be done. It is one thing to set a goal, but you need to take that extra step. Intentions are goals with actionbehind them. There is no limit to how many you can set for yourself; it all depends on what you need. Intentions will increase your quality of life by giving you a sense of purpose, as well as the mental and physical strength to complete your daily tasks such as an important school deadline or workout routine. Intentions will also boost your overall mood and a happy mood as well as a positive attitude increases effectiveness and productivity.
Yoga has a number of benefits for your mental and physical health. Staying active by incorporating a yoga routine into your lifestyle will: increase body awareness, relieve stress, lessen muscle tension, sharpen your focus, and soothe your nervous system. Yoga has been proven to enhance social well-being as well as increase your sense of belonging in society. It has also been shown to improve symptoms in those that struggle with depression, ADD/ADHD, and sleep disorders. Yoga even increases your gamma-aminobutyric acid, (GABA) which regulates nerve activity and, as a result, improves symptoms of anxiety. A regular yoga routine will increase your overall mood, facilitate positive behavior, and make you more resilient to challenges. Bonus if you can work out in the sun since regular sunlight exposure increases serotonin levels.
Invite Friends Over
Good friends keep us afloat when life is trying its best to drag us down. Positive and nurturing friendships are essential to the care of your mental health. Friends are there to lend a listening ear while keeping us grounded and level. Friends help you cope with any unfortunate circumstances that life might decide to throw your way. Mental health issues often make us want to retreat into our little bubble and see friends less. However, a friend who sticks by and loves you even when you are difficult to love will help you overcome your need for social seclusion in the face of hardship. A friendship that can withstand the stress of one of the pair having mental health woes, will come out stronger as a result and create an impenetrable bond moving forward.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a prayer journal, intention journal, or diary is something to seriously consider trying if you struggle with mental health. Journaling is the perfect way to manage your anxiety, minimize your stress, or cope with depression and depressive thoughts. Getting your thoughts laid out on paper will help focus on your priorities, and identify the source of your tension. You can use your journal to document your triggers, which are certain reminders in your everyday environment of past trauma. Triggers can cause sadness, anxiety, or a major panic attack. They can also cause unexpected flashbacks, which can be disturbing or unsettling. Documenting these will help you to be mindful and identify when they arise in the future. Armed with this knowledge, you can begin to control them better. Your journal can also be used to identify negative thoughts and moments when you are not kind to yourself and help you replace those moments with positive self-talk. While it is important to get all of the bad thoughts out and onto paper to help gain clarity on your situation, it is justas important to pour out positivity onto your pages so that when you are feeling down and low you can refer back to those pages as a reminder on how essential positive self-talk is for your mental health.
Other Mental-Health Essentials
If you follow the tips above, your mental state will be better for it. Adding to that, the list above is by no means exhaustive, so let’s briefly go over some extra steps you can take to protect your mental health, stay nurtured, and be sound of mind and body.
Get Plenty of Rest
Sleep deprivation can immensely affect your psychological state, and ironically, people who have mental health issues are at a much higher risk for insomnia and sleep disorders. Sleeping is just as essential to your health as food or water. A lack of sleep can also be linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system, (which can cause you to get sick more often) increased anxiety, or depression. If you have trouble falling asleep there are some “do’s” that you can incorporate into your nightly routine.
- Do: Keep the room cold, if you are hot it can be difficult to relax.
- Do: Make it as dark as possible, darkness boosts melatonin, which is a hormone needed in order to fall asleep.
- Do: Schedule your yoga routine right before bed, working out helps the body relax and unwind which makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Don’t: Don’t look at your clock too much, being anxious over being awake at a certain time and focusing too hard on the time can make it difficult to fall asleep/back to sleep. It can also begin a routine of waking up at random hours. If possible, cover up your alarm so you cannot look at it after you’ve set your wake-up time.
The food you put into your body doesn’t only affect your physical health, a poor diet can have a very troubling effect on your mental wellbeing. It is essential to monitor your nutritional intake to make sure everything you are eating and drinking is conducive to a healthy and productive lifestyle. A study found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, beans, grains, cereals, fish, and unsaturated fats) supplemented with fish oil led to decreased depression in the participants of the study for up to 6 months afterward. Eating well will also aid you in your workout routine. Healthy workout fuel yields positive physical results.
Be Kind to Yourself
You’re only human and allowing yourself to feel what you feel can be incredibly beneficial. Set aside a couple of minutes a day where you allow yourself to feel sad or anxious or overwhelmed. Remember that your feelings are valid, so try acknowledging the way you are feeling and then move on. Maybe treat yourself to something you’ve been wanting for a while. For example, a friend of mine from New Jersey who was struggling with anxiety and depression decided to treat herself to getting a NuggClub box delivered as she had heard about the relaxing properties of cannabis. They came with a variety of different products and strains that she said were all personally curated for what she needed. Some of the names she told me about such as the pineapple crush strain even sound quite refreshing! There are other types of gift boxes you can have delivered too, so find one that works for you whether that be wine, books or plants.
Keeping all of this information in mind, you will be well on your way to enhancing the quality of your life by prioritizing your mental health. It can be very debilitating to have to face mental health struggles on a daily basis, and no one wants to feel weak. However, as long as you do your best to practice your daily intentions, incorporate fun and healthy activities, and surround yourself with kind-hearted people who have genuine intentions, your mental state will be better for it.