An article published by the Huffington Post earlier this year discussed how the key to a healthy life is having a healthy mind-body relationship. This means everyone who hopes to achieve a healthy life needs to spend time not only on their physical health but also on their mental health. While many things, such as eating healthily and exercising, help with both your physical and mental health, there are several things you can do to focus specifically on your mental health.
Establish a Balanced Life
When your life is off-balance, you are likely to experience increased stress. For good mental health, focus on balancing your professional and personal life. While there might be times when you have to work longer hours or you experience an increased workload, you should not allow this to become a pattern. To maintain good mental health, you need to make time for family, friends, and fun.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you should not be so focused on having a good time that you neglect your professional duties. If your life is so focused on one area that other parts of your life are lacking, reevaluate your life. See where you can and should make changes.
Develop Your Social Life
No, having 1,000 Facebook friends does not count. While social media has its benefits, it is important to connect face-to-face with others. Build a network of people you talk to and rely upon. Find people who are good listeners and who will listen without judgment. Be ready, though, to be that listening ear for a friend as well. Talk with these friends and family members. Have fun together.
While social interaction does help with your mental health, it is important to pick the right friends. Avoid toxic relationships—the ones where the other person destroys your self-esteem. It is important to realize that sometimes this chipping away at your self-esteem is done slowly, one piece at a time. Relationships of all kinds, both friendships and romantic relationships, can be toxic. While some toxic relationships can be healed through counseling and other means, for your own mental health, you may need to completely cut off ties with someone if you find yourself in a toxic situation.
Give Yourself Me Time
While it is important to socialize, your mental health may also suffer if you never give yourself time alone. Being always on the go and never focusing on just giving yourself time to relax and be alone can lead to added stress. Regularly take time out for yourself. Even a few minutes a day or an hour here and there can make a huge difference in your mental health.
During your alone time, do something you enjoy. Read a book. Go for a walk. Watch your favorite movie. As long as it de-stresses you, enjoy yourself. Whether it is for a few minutes at a time or for a full weekend, having time to yourself can give you a great mental boost.
Do Not Hide Your Emotions
Bottling up your emotions or trying to hide them pretty much guarantees you will feel more stressed. In some cases, bottling up those emotions just makes things worse when they do finally come to the surface, sometimes at less-than-convenient times. Instead of pretending you feel a certain way, acknowledge your real feelings.
For example, admit if you feel sad and overwhelmed by being a new parent. Do not try to pretend you are just excited about the new addition to your life. At the very least, your mental health will benefit from you discussing these feelings with someone. A friend or family member is often a great choice. A medical professional is another wonderful choice, particularly if you are concerned that your feelings could do real harm in your life.
Be of Service to Others
One of the best ways to improve your own mental health and destroy your own negative thoughts in a hurry is to be of service to others. While volunteering at a homeless shelter or doing some other big project is great, you do not have to give in a big way to feel the benefits of helping others. Simply being the listening ear when a friend is struggling or baking cookies for and spending a half hour talking with your neighbor who lives alone can do wonders for both that person’s mental health as well as your own.
Helping others allows you to look outside yourself. In many instances, focusing on someone else allows you to see your own worries or problems in better perspective, which allows you to better appreciate your own life. Plus, you can improve your own self-esteem as you brighten someone else’s day.
Seek Out Opportunities to Laugh
Laughter provides an assortment of health benefits, including mental health benefits. It can help with anxiety and fear. It can improve your mood. Laughter can help you to relax and decreases stress levels. It can relieve depression. Overall, laughter can make you feel happy when you were otherwise feeling sad.
If you find you are not laughing or laughter is rare, seek opportunities to laugh. Watch a funny movie or television show. Spend time around people who make you laugh. Do something goofy that makes you laugh at yourself. Seek out other things that make you laugh or at least smile. Find opportunities to laugh with friends and family.
Of course, there is more to healthy living, both physically and mentally, than these six things. If you are interested in learning more about living a healthy life or need more advice, contact us.