Are you looking for practical steps to improve mental health?
Life is nonstop. We work long hours, at least five days a week, and when we aren’t working, we have to find time to do everything else.
That means cleaning house, cooking wholesome meals, socializing, trying to relax, and all the other many things that are part of life.
This chaotic pace can cause undue stress in our lives and negatively impact our mental well-being.
It’s important to learn steps to improve your mental health and release stress for the sake of our sanity and health.
Here are 5 Steps to Improve Mental Health and Nourish Wellness
Reduce Your Stress
Stress can cause a myriad of maladies, both for our bodies and our minds.
It can create anything from headaches to heartburn, and lower our immune system, causing us to become ill more frequently. If we experience enough stress, it impacts our sleep and may even lead to depression.
If you experience stress every day, your health is at risk. It’s imperative for your own well-being to reduce it.
Thankfully, there are steps to improve mental health, both in the moment and over time.
Mindfulness and meditation are excellent ways to help us replace negative thoughts with calm ones. If you don’t know where to begin, start by taking a deep breath.
Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic system, which is the opposite of fight or flight. It helps us to slow down, to relax.
Learn to Relax
One cause of stress is how fast-paced life is these days.
It’s important to learn how to slow down and take time just for ourselves. If our schedules are busy, we may not be able to do that.
This is why many of us need to learn to say “no.” If we are always acquiescing to the whims of others, even when we do not have the time or mental and emotional capacity to, we will drain ourselves of energy.
It’s important to begin telling people, at work, at home, in our social lives, the word no. Don’t hedge about. You can be polite without providing a reason.
You can even apologize if you feel you need to.
However, being able to say no will open up time for you to relax.
Self-care can be any healthy activity that makes you feel at peace.
- Start a journal.
- Really invest in mindfulness.
- Go for a walk in a park or nature reserve.
- Listen to your favorite music as you take a hot bath.
- Make a hot cup of cider or cocoa and kick back while watching your favorite comedy.
Make Time to Sleep
One of the healthiest things you can do for your body and mind is getting a good night’s sleep.
The average adult needs anywhere from seven to 10 hours of sleep every single night.
When you don’t sleep well, you increase your blood pressure, lower your immune system, risk weight gain, and even can develop depression.
Sleep is essential for health.
Your best bet to improving your rest at night is to curate a routine.
- At least an hour before you prepare for bed, turn off all technology, including television, smartphones, and even electronic readers.
- Do something relaxing instead, like reading by soft light.
- Limit your food and liquid intake before bed, as these can disrupt your sleep cycle.
- Don’t exercise too soon before it’s time to sleep, as the adrenaline can keep you up.
- Make your bedroom as comfortable as possible by using noise machines, sleep masks and pillows of your preferred firmness.
These are little steps to improve mental health that make a big difference.
Remember, if you hit the hay and rise at the same time every single day, you can train your body to get sleepy and waken at a certain time.
This often helps us sleep much better at night.
Eat for Wellness
What we eat can affect how we feel—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Not only can our diet prevent memory loss, but it can also improve our emotional well-being.
Focus on whole, natural foods, rather than processed and artificial meals.
Avoid heavy oils, refined sugars, excessive alcohol, and artificial sweeteners, and try not to over-caffeinate.
Instead, consume things that benefit serotonin and dopamine production, like seeds, cruciferous vegetables, eggs, beans, and healthy carbs, like quinoa and yams.
Foods rich in omega-3s, such as salmon, may help keep us happy and healthy by boosting serotonin in our brains.
Magnesium-dense items can soothe anxiety, so add a dose of black beans, pumpkin and plenty of greens to your meals.
If you have no time to cook, consider batch cooking on weekends to make your life easier during the week.
If even that is too much, which is for many of us these days, you may want to look into different meal delivery services to find fresh, healthy options that arrive straight to your door, ready to cook up quickly.
Find Your Exercise Routine
Most of us know that working out is good for us. Obviously, it can help us lose weight and maintain a level of fitness, but it can also help prevent chronic issues as we age—and even lift our moods and bolster mental well-being.
However, as with all aspects of life, we need to remember moderation.
Working out for an excessive length of time, and for more than five days a week can actually lead to a decline in our mental health.
It can even increase depression more than not working out at all can.
Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t get to the gym every day. Instead, focus on working out three to five times weekly, and no longer than 45 minutes. Of course, this depends on the intensity of your workouts.
If you have high-intensity exercise, you only need about 75 minutes per week of physical activity.
If you have only moderate-intensity, aim instead for 150 minutes. Don’t do just one thing during your sessions, either. Instead, combine or alternate aerobics with weight-bearing exercises, such as strength training.
Stress and anxiety can creep up on us.
We may not notice the effects early on, but they will manifest eventually.
You need to start making yourself your top priority.
Not tomorrow, but today. If we don’t, our mental health may suffer.
You deserve to be healthy, and you cannot properly see to other people’s well-being without looking after your own.
Make today the day you start steps to improve mental health, letting go of stress, and learning to relax.
5 Steps to Improve Mental Health and Nourish Wellness
About the Author: Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.
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