Many people prioritize their physical health over anything. They eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and visit the doctor to ensure their health isn’t in jeopardy. But what about their mental health? What are they doing to ensure their mental health is the best it can be, too?
If you feel as though your mental health could be better, you’re not alone. According to mentalhealthfirstaid.org, 5% of adults in the United States (18 or older) experience a mental illness in any one year, which is equivalent to 43.8 million people. However, only 41% of those who had a mental disorder received professional health care or other services.
It’s incredibly important that people focus on their mental health. Everyone is at risk of having poor mental health, including celebrities, injury attorneys, nurses, and pilots. It doesn’t matter what your job is, where you live, or what kind of family life you have. Daily stresses add up quickly. If that stress isn’t managed correctly, it will make a large impact on your mental health.
So, what can you do to better your mental health? If you need some guidance, here are 10 ways you can get started.
Better Your Work-Life Balance
Being overworked can take a big toll on your mental health. It’s estimated that more than 85% of men and more than 66% of females in the United States work more than 40 hours per week. Working overtime doesn’t leave much time for you to do activities you enjoy.
Take a step back and evaluate your work-life balance. Do you find yourself working long hours that exhaust you? Are you feeling like all you do lately is work? If you are overworking yourself, try to cut back the long work hours and make time for yourself.
It is important to note that some people work more than 40 hours per week because they have multiple jobs. If you can’t cut back on your work hours due to finances, try to land a part-time or freelance job you truly enjoy doing. If you enjoy your work, it makes the hours go by just a bit faster.
If your full-time job is having you work more than 40 hours each week, evaluate your role there. Are you truly happy with this company? Are the role and the salary worth sacrificing your personal time? Not being happy with your work conditions can impact your mental health, too. Don’t be afraid to look for new employment opportunities that would make you happier. You spend so much of your time working, so you should enjoy where you work, right?
Make Time For Yourself
One of the best things you can do for your mental health is to make time to do the things you enjoy. Set aside time each day to do something for yourself. This can include writing, going for a walk, or cooking your favorite meal.
You should also set aside some time to participate in activities that relax you. You could treat yourself to a massage, or even book an acupuncture appointment. There’s a report from the World Health Organization that endorses the use of acupuncture for over 200 symptoms and diseases. Acupuncture is meant to relax and calm the body, so it will help you de-stress. If acupuncture isn’t for you, then consider other relaxing activities like taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music.
Another activity you can do for yourself (that also helps others) is volunteer. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose, and it feels great to give back in some way. You could volunteer at an elderly care facility, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, etc. Seeing the positive impact you made on someone’s day will brighten your mood.
Set Realistic Goals
Sometimes the things that stress us out most are our own expectations. You may want to look a certain way or live a certain lifestyle and become upset when you don’t live up to those expectations. Some people even consider getting plastic surgery or engage in anti aging therapy to live up to their own standards.
You don’t have to go to drastic lengths to reach your goals, though. A good thing to do is re-evaluate your current goals and determine if they’re realistic for you. If not, then adjust your goals. Life changes all the time, so it’s okay if your goals change, too.
You could also break down your biggest goals into smaller milestone goals. For example, if your goal is to complete a 5K race by the end of the year, create a smaller milestone goal of running a mile a day for an entire week. This smaller goal helps you work towards your bigger goal and you can feel accomplished after completing it.
Evaluate Your Relationships
Your time and attention are valuable. That means you should pay close attention to who you’ve dedicated them to. Evaluate the relationships you have, and think about if they’re honestly good for you at this point in your life. These include friendships, romantic relationships, and even the relationships you have with family members.
If someone in your life is constantly bringing you down or dragging you into toxic situations, then it may be time to say goodbye to them. Don’t just limit your evaluation to friendships, though. If you’re married, evaluate your marriage. If it’s not making you happy then it may be time to consider divorce. This may be a difficult decision to make, but it will help your mental health in the long-run.
You can also take this time to evaluate your role in these people’s lives, too. Are you happy with your role in these relationships? Do you wish you reached out to certain people more and others less? Are you a positive influence in the lives of those around you? Changing your own behavior will help you better your mental health as well.
Take A Trip
Everyone needs a break from reality once in a while. If you need a mental health boost, plan a trip. It could be a long weekend trip to a nearby town or a two-week grand vacation to Europe. Where you go and for how long is completely up to you.
Statistics show that traveling can relieve stress, boost your happiness, and enhance your creativity. If you’re in a rut, a change of scenery could help snap you out of it.
You can also use this trip to reconnect with the people in your life. If you’re missing friends or family members, invite them along and plan the trip with them. Life gets incredibly busy and we don’t always stay in contact with people as much as we’d like. A trip can bring people together and help them reconnect in a way they simply can’t do in daily life.
Keep A Journal
A great way to relieve stress and better your mental health is to start journaling. Journaling allows you to write down your thoughts and feelings in a place where no one can judge them. Getting your thoughts down on paper can help you process them more effectively. Plus, you’ll feel more in control of your thoughts and emotions. You’ll determine what gets written down and what gets thrown out of your mind forever.
There are multiple benefits of journaling. It decreases stress and helps people cope with negative thoughts and emotions. Sometimes, all we need is a space to put our negative thoughts on. Once they’re out of our minds, there’s more space for thoughts and feelings that make us happy.
You can also use your journal to write short stories or poetry that helps you cope with your thoughts and feelings. Writing about them in a creative way could help you process them in a way that wasn’t possible before.
Create A Regular Exercise Routine
We already know that exercise is good for our physical health. Regular exercise reduces your risk of getting certain diseases and certain types of cancer. However, regular exercise also plays an important role in the upkeep of our mental health.
Exercise can help people effectively manage depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Some studies even show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as well as prescribed medication can. Exercise also releases endorphins into our brains, which naturally boosts our mood and reduces stress.
There are many kinds of exercise routines you can choose to do. You could join a gym, start doing yoga, attend Zumba lessons, or even pick up running. If you aren’t sure what kind of exercise is best for you, consider hiring a health coach. Health coaches are professionals who work with you to map out an exercise plan that will help you reach your goals.
Think Of Something Positive Each Day
As humans, we plague ourselves with negative thoughts every day. Some sources even say that up to 70% of the thoughts we have in our heads are negative. All this negative thinking can have a large negative impact on mental health.
Something you can do to combat these negative thoughts is to think positive thoughts. The more you focus on the things that are going right, the better you will feel. Thinking positive thoughts will make you happier and reduce your stress. If you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, try to combat it with a positive thought right away. Eventually, a majority of your thoughts may end up in the positive category instead of the negative.
People tend to focus on the future. They think about what it will be like when they finally achieve the goals they set for themselves. These people get so caught up in the future, though, that they forget to live in the present.
This is where practicing mindfulness comes into play. When someone is mindful, they are focused on what is happening in the present moment. They’re enjoying what’s in front of them now and not thinking about tomorrow. Mindful practices include meditation and yoga.
Mindful exercises are often used to help treat those with mental health illnesses. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve attention and concentration, and provide valuable insight into one’s feelings. If you find yourself worrying about things that are out of your control, practicing mindfulness may help reduce your anxiety. The more present you are, the less time you spend stressing over things that haven’t even happened yet.
Talk To A Mental Health Professional
If someone is physically in pain, they go to physical therapy. If someone’s mental health is suffering, then they should see a mental health professional.
Seeing a mental health professional will help you figure out why you’re feeling the way you do and what you can do to treat it. A therapist or a counselor will talk to you openly and without judgment. They’ll also recommend a course of treatment that works for your needs.
Talking to someone about your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. Some people think there’s a stigma attached to seeing a therapist or counselor, but there shouldn’t be. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so if it’s hurting, it’s best to talk to a professional and see what’s going on. Visiting a mental health professional may also be covered by your insurance, however, it’s best to talk with your insurance provider to determine what is covered or any other healthcare benefit changes.
Your mental health is a crucial part of your overall health. If it’s suffering, make the time to evaluate why. There could be a number of things happening in your life that are contributing to your mental state. It could be your job, your friends, your family, or your own expectations. Don’t be afraid to make changes that will boost your mental health. They may be difficult to make at first, but it will be worth it in the end.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help. Mental health professionals are trained to help people figure out why they’re feeling the way they do. You may be nervous about reaching out to a professional, but you shouldn’t be. They are there to help you, and they’ll do whatever they can to make sure your needs are met.