Nearly one in five adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. Only a fraction seek help. Here are 10 tips to improve your mental health:
1. Prioritize You
Improving mental health starts with making it a priority. Make time for the self-care you deserve. Be disciplined in your actions and make mental well-being your mission starting with today. As Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson states in his book 12 Rules for Life, “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping.”
2. Exercise Regularly
Physical activity may be the best immediate mood-changing tool at your disposal. It helps release chemicals in the brain that are proven to improve mood and is linked directly to leading a longer, healthier life. Make a short walk or good workout part of your daily routine. Choose an activity you enjoy like basketball or bicycling that you will look forward to, and push yourself to explore more.
3. Maintain A Healthy Diet
Studies show a healthy diet can alleviate anxiety and depression, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and have a direct impact on the quality of your life. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make a change.
4. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep and deep sleep can play a large part in our mental health and emotional well-being. Experts say seven to nine hours per night is ideal, and less than six increases the risk of death and diabetes.
To learn more about how sleep impacts the brain, check out this podcast with the Founder of the Center for Human Sleep Science, Professor Matthew Walker.
5. Get Some Sun
Vitamin D is a critical vitamin for mental health. It helps promote the release of chemicals in our brain that improve our mood. The best source of vitamin D is the sun. Just 30 to 60 minutes each day can have a noticeable impact. If getting outside is not possible, ask your doctor if a vitamin D supplement is right for you.
6. Strengthen Healthy Connections
The human brain is wired to connect. It is a core human need and linked to almost every aspect of mental well-being. Strive to create a deeper connection with your family, friends, neighbors, strangers, even your pets. It is the quality of these relationships that can add immense value to our lives.
7. Reduce Screen Time
This is a big one. Screens affect the production of melatonin and the quality of our sleep. In addition, social media, smartphones and algorithm-based content recommendations have become more of a distraction than a tool that benefits the user. Cut the screen time and cut out content that doesn’t make you feel great.
8. Mindfulness Meditation
Research shows meditation can help better manage negative feelings and emotions. In addition, it has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Try meditation, mindfulness meditation, or just some simple breathing exercises to get started. Use it in times of peace and stress to calm the brain.
Expressing our emotions and thoughts through writing has a relaxing and therapeutic effect. It can help you better understand your own problems, fears, and triggers, while providing a safe space to analyze them in.
10. Speak With Someone
One of the most effective ways to improve your mental health is to talk to someone you trust about it. This goes further than strengthening healthy connections. Find someone you feel comfortable speaking to about your emotions and problems without fear of judgement or rejection.
If you do not have a family member or close friend you can confide in, speak with a licensed professional from our office. Make an appointment today.