It’s no secret that mental health plays an essential role in our everyday wellbeing. Our mental functions are what allow us to process thoughts throughout our everyday lives, and whether it be seeing, walking, eating, or dressing, our brains are at work. It has been said that “there is no health without mental health.”
But what is considered good mental health? The World Health Organization says that mental health is a “state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
That being said, we’d like to share a handful of quick tips and techniques to keep in mind to ensure that our own mental health is being kept as sharp as possible.
GET THE REST YOU NEED
Sleep restores both the mind and body after each day, so following a regulated pattern for sleep by going to bed at a set time each night will ensure that your body is kept on track. Only 4 in 10 Americans say they get a good night’s sleep almost every night, and everything from a comfortable bed, to food intake, to technology use right before you fall asleep can impact the quality of your sleep and rest.
Sleeping on a comfortable bed with a great mattress, pillows, and (appropriate) bedding is key to sleeping well, and keeping the room temperature cool (65-67 degrees) can also help achieve a restful sleep. Sleeping on your back is the least stressful for spine and neck health, because the back is straight and not forced into any contortions, yet instances of snoring and sleep apnea can be much more frequent. The most common sleeping position is on the side, and many people find sleeping with a pillow between their knees to be the least stressful.
It is well known that maintaining a balanced, healthy diet is beneficial for physical health, weight management, and protecting the body from various illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Eating healthy means eating real food rather than processed “food-like” products, and real food not only benefits physical health, but it also supports mental well-being. The Mental Health Foundation states, “Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body.”
Exercise & physical activity improve psychological well-being and can reduce anxiety and depression. Joining a gym or fitness group can also help you connect with a new set of people sharing a common goal. For some, staying in shape and maintaining health can be as simple as applying healthy exercise alternatives to tasks throughout daily life. Dr. Sara Warber from University of Michigan said that “walking is an inexpensive, low risk and accessible form of exercise, and combined with nature and group settings, it may be a very powerful, under-utilized stress buster.”
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
A powerful way to strengthen mental health is through friendship and human connection. Connecting with others in meaningful and good ways can positively impact our thoughts and feelings. When we care for others and others care for us, we feel valued, and putting in time and effort towards building strong relationships can bring great rewards. Many find that spending serious time with an active pet such as a dog or a horse to also be invigorating and rewarding.
GOOD RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK
Our jobs and careers can take up a significant portion of our daily lives, and building supportive relationships in the workplace is important for maintaining peace of mind and mental health. When you build positive relationships, you feel more comfortable with your surroundings and interactions, while feeling less intimidated by others. Reach out to others around you, and share a laugh with them – you’ll find it reduces stress and brings more comfort to your professional and personal life. Feeling a closer bond to the people we spend the majority of our time working with can also positively affect job satisfaction and our ability to advance and gain recognition in the workplace.
RECOLLECT & RELIVE
Think about those great times you had and recollect some recent positive moments – Remember to recall and look back upon times when you’ve experienced pleasure, achievement, comfort, satisfaction, confidence, or other positive emotions.
LAUGH WITH OTHERS
Laughter is a powerful tool in mental well-being, and a kernel of humor can often be really effective in keeping us mentally fit. Humor & laughter trigger healthy changes in the body which strengthen the immune system, ease pain, boost energy, and protect your body from the damaging effects of stress. Laughter is commonly known to reduce mental tension, though it also helps with staying focused and accomplishing more. Research has shown that both sides of the brain are stimulated during laughing, encouraging clarity, creativity, humor, and better problem-solving ability.
Take some time to really absorb your sights and surroundings each day. When you’re out for a walk or socializing, turn off the cell phone, forget about everything else that is going in your life, and take in all the sights and sounds around you. Allowing one’s self some down time each day to let the mind wander or meditate can also refresh the mind.
LEARN TO COPE WITH NEGATIVITY
Negative thoughts can seem insistent and loud, but don’t let them take over. Distract yourself or comfort yourself if you can’t solve a problem right away. Try seeing the issue from all sides and consider whether your view could be bias or narrow-minded. We are often able to see in retrospect, that some of our life’s greatest challenges turn out to be some of our greatest opportunities for growth or advancement.
Hobbies keep the brain active and can bring balance and passion to your life. Hobbies foster passion, creativity, sharing, focus and introspection, all of which are positive energy traits.
Mental Wellness is the central cog in our daily lives and maintaining mental health can be as simple as focusing on the positive and integrating a few of these ideas into our daily routine.