Even those without mental illnesses can improve their mental health. Daily stresses are detrimental to everyone’s mental health. Here are some ways to make yours a priority and always feel your best.
Treat yourself kindly. Don’t beat yourself up over small mistakes and focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses. Taking time to do the things you love to do and are good at is also a huge part of this that will improve your general happiness.
Sleep well. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Also, make sure that your sleep is restful. Turn off your devices, put away other distractions and do your best to destress before heading to bed. Being well rested is extremely important for keeping stress at bay. People with chronic insomnia are 15-20% more likely to develop clinical depression (click here to read more).
Fuel your body. Eating a balanced diet is as important for your mental health as it is your physical health. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to effect dopamine and serotonin levels (two hormones known to control mood). You can get your share of omega-3s from supplements or the old-fashioned way by eating eggs, yogurt, soy milk, flaxseed, peanut butter, oatmeal and seafood such as Tuna, Halibut, Herring, Sardines, Oysters, Salmon and Trout.
Stay hydrated. The general rule of thumb for adults is to drink 8 cups of water per day. Because the brain is 75% water, dehydration severely effects the brain. Even slight dehydration puts a stress on the brain and therefore can effect your mood. A simple and easy way to make sure your mental health is at its best is to drink water throughout the day.
Give to others. Whether you donate money and possessions or volunteer your time and energy, giving to those in need is a sure fire way to feel good.
Be realistic. It is easy to feel down on yourself especially if you are not achieving the things you want to be. Make sure that your goals are realistic. If you set small goals that have realistic time periods, you will feel accomplished more often and even have more energy to reach for your bigger goals.
Make time to quiet your mind. Whether it is prayer, meditation or just simply clearing your mind and relaxing, taking a timeout from the things that you stress over is important. Make it a point to find a quiet place to just breathe a few times a week.
Have some fun in the sun. There is a reason why depression rates spike in the winter. Sunlight is important for your mental health. The sun supplies you with Vitamin D, which is extremely important for balancing mood. While summer lasts, take advantage of the sun and be outside whenever possible. During the darker, gloomier months, you can take Vitamin D supplements.
Get moving. There is a reason you get a “high” after working out or simply being active with friends. Exercise promotes mood boosting chemicals in your brain, so if you make being active a part of your routine you will definitely see an improvement in your overall mood.
Set aside time to stress. This one might seem a little counterintuitive, but set aside a time in your day specifically for worrying. That way you get it out and the stress doesn’t loom over you all day long. Make sure you set a time limit for your stressing and also practice coping skills such as deep breathing or physically picturing your worries as an object (ex. balloons) floating away.
My goal for this summer is to focus on these goals to improve my mental health! Who’s with me?!