Studies suggest that mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the US. Many of us are aware of preventive and curative measures for improved physical health, but we often overlook mental well-being. Just as there are steps you can take to protect your body, there are things you can do to take care of your mind and nourish well-being. Here are some actionable steps to tackle poor mental health.
It’s human nature to experience a range of emotions, but controlling and managing thoughts and feelings can be difficult in certain situations. Learning to identify triggers can be helpful, especially if you are prone to bouts of anxiety or you go through rapid changes in your moods. Try to figure out what makes you feel down, on edge or uneasy. If you can spot triggers, you can be proactive in trying to avoid or reduce exposure to them. Perhaps scrolling through social media makes you feel self-conscious or isolated or lonely, or maybe checking work emails late at night is giving you anxiety before you go to sleep. Whatever triggers negative feelings and emotions, try to protect yourself.
Seeking help is beneficial for everyone. Whether you have good mental health, you’re going through a rough patch, or you’re finding it hard to process trauma or life events, there are treatments and therapies you can try. Talk about how you feel with a therapist and be open to trying therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). You can find out more from sites like EMDRHealing.com. Often, speaking about how you feel can be beneficial, but you may need additional help in the form of exercises you can do at home, counseling or medication.
It’s so important to understand the benefits of reaching out if you are struggling with your mental health or you’ve noticed symptoms. Many of us wouldn’t think twice about scheduling an appointment with a doctor if we had back pain or migraines, but we’re reluctant to seek advice for signs of mental illness.
Understand what makes you feel happy
Happiness is a state of mind that we all strive to achieve. Most of us have a perception of what happiness looks like, but there is no set formula or blueprint. What makes one person happy may be very different from what makes others happy. Understand what makes you feel content and uplifted. It may be spending time with family and a close circle of friends or being surrounded by trees or flowers. It may be playing or listening to music or getting immersed in film or literature. It may be painting or designing clothes or traveling the world. Focus on your happiness, rather than a vision of contentment presented to us by social media feeds or glossy magazines. Once you know what brings you joy, try to devote more time to the people, places or activities on your list.
Embrace an active lifestyle
Moving your body is an effective way to lower the risk of health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but it also boosts mental health. Regular exercise can help to lower the risk of depression and anxiety and it’s also a means of channeling emotions constructively. Exercise is often cathartic and it makes you feel energized. It can also help you to relax and clear your mind and improve sleep quality. When you play sports or go for a walk or a bike ride, you trigger a series of reactions, which increase serotonin and dopamine levels and release endorphins. Even if you’re exhausted or you can’t wait for a session to end, you’ll feel amazing after exercise.
Try to make time for daily exercise. If you have a busy schedule, set aside 30 minutes in the morning or evening to go for a stroll, do a quick workout at home or book an exercise class after work. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. For more helpful tips, check out this article https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health-active-lifestyle. It’s important to remember that exercise covers a huge range of activities. Your 150 minutes can comprise anything from hiking, kayaking, climbing and dancing to cycling, swimming, playing tennis, hockey, basketball and soccer or doing yoga and Pilates.
Around 20% of US adults have a mental illness. Many of us are reluctant to talk about mental health, but this is an issue that affects all of us. If you are struggling with poor mental health, it’s important to seek help and advice, identify and avoid triggers, focus on what makes you happy and try to look after your body and mind.