With much more well-deserved attention being drawn to the topic of mental health, it can be difficult for many of us to understand what “mental health” really refers to. According to a dictionary definition, mental health is “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” So in a nutshell, it determines how we feel, act, and think. It plays a huge role in the way we look at our ourselves and our world, often dictating how we handle stress, make choices, and interact with others.
Needless to say, mental health is undeniably important. It’s hard to think of an aspect of life that is not affected by our mental health! Just as an athlete trains their body to reach a certain desired result, we must also set goals for our mental health. Taking care of your mental health can sometimes mean getting guidance from a professional, but there are a large array of ways to better your mental state on your own as well. So we’ve put together 8 simple ways for you to improve upon your own mental and emotional state. Read on!
Talk About it
Telling someone how you’re feeling is a great first step to take when seeking mental health improvement. Often, just being able to confide in someone about your thoughts and emotions can be the most difficult, yet most helpful tool. Try to find someone you can trust, and schedule time with them! Feeling valued and important to someone else can help you see yourself in a more positive light. Don’t be afraid to speak about goals for your mental and emotional health, because it is proven that by clearly stating your goals, you are far more likely to accomplish them.
When exercising, your body releases endorphins, also known as “happy hormones.” Endorphins interact with your brain receptors, triggering a positive feeling in the body. This is why physical activity is so helpful in reducing stress or worry! By participating in the martial arts, for example, you are not only taking care of your body, but taking care of your mind. So if you’re having a super busy and stressful day, don’t skip out on practice, because there’s a good chance it might be just what turns your mood around.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to get active. Whether it’s doing some simple cardio at your local gym, trying a yoga exercise on Youtube, or taking your dog on a quick walk around the block, getting your body moving gets your mind moving as well!
Learn New Skills
When you hear the word ‘learning,’ what first comes to mind? A boring classroom lecture? We often view learning as this thing that ends when the last bell of the day rings or when we are handed our diploma. But the truth is, learning actually goes far beyond the classroom, and actually can have lots of positive effects on one’s mental health. By continuing to learn new things throughout life, research has shown that you are actually improving your overall well-being.
Learning has been associated with increased positivity, feelings of purpose, and a sense of accomplishment. Long story short, trying new things gives a new appreciation for life! Whether it’s trying a new recipe, taking a class you’re interested in, or visiting a museum, learning about things that spark your interest have an endless slew of positive effects.
Keep in Touch with Friends
Spending time with good friends is one of the most effortless ways to improve mental health. It’s extremely important to not close yourself off from those who care about you when you are struggling. Take note of the people who make you feel good about yourself and lighten your mood, and don’t take them for granted! Carve time out of your busy schedule to simply call them on the phone or meet them for lunch. These interactions may seem miniscule, but they truly have the power to brighten your mood.
Do Something Creative
Artistic activities have been scientifically shown to improve one’s mood and emotions. These types of activities are widely known to be great stress reducers, and actually help the brain recover from worry or illness. There are plenty of ways to be creative, so find things that help you feel calm and relaxed. If you’re not sure where to start, try out painting, dancing, photography, sewing, or writing. These are all outlets to express your emotions. By being focused on your activity at hand, you’re also releasing feelings of anxiety and stress without even realizing it!
Surrounding yourself with others who are interested in and excited about the same things as you is a perfect way to encourage yourself! This is also a great way to open yourself up and get to know new people. There are lots of different options when it comes to becoming more involved in your community. Join a class, volunteer with a charity you support, or get involved in a sport you’re drawn to. Don’t limit yourself!
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional does not mean you have failed at improving your mental health on your own! There are many different types of mental health counselors, and each of their jobs vary, but they ultimately are there to help their clients discuss their emotions and examine issues from both past and present affecting their mental state. If you’re not sure where to go, start by visiting your local mental health organization or ask for a referral from your primary care doctor.
We live in an utterly chaotic world. It is so easy to become wrapped up in our list of to-do’s. It’s difficult to turn off our preoccupied minds and take time to relax. People often forget how beneficial just a little bit of time at the end of the day, or even the end of the week, can be to their mental health. So find that time to wind down and take care of yourself, and if you can’t find it, make it! Maybe take a hot bath, watch your favorite show, write in a journal, or listen to calming music. Take care of those around you, but don’t forget to take care of yourself as well!
Mental health is at the center of everything we do. No matter how much you accomplish or get done throughout the day, you will not feel satisfied if you don’t make an effort to take care of yourself. Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. It determines your day to day actions, thoughts, and interactions, so don’t let your mental health take the backseat!