Life itself can be very hard and overwhelming. Perhaps something is not healthy in the home or work environment. Situations can be too much to handle. The brain can have too much or not enough of some kinds of chemicals. Sometimes all a person needs is a few new skills to cope with life's challenges. Here are ten tips on how to keep good mental health:
1. Eat nutrient-packed foods
You need food that has real nutrients in it, so that your brain and body have access to the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Skip the fake processed foods (foods that come almost already prepared in boxes or packages) and instead make something from scratch. Skip the bread and pastries and reach for fresh fruits and vegetables. Remember to drink plenty of water. That means 8 glasses a day plus one cup for every drink of soda.
Healthy and appropriate levels of exercise (even simply going on a walk) helps flush out stress chemicals from your body and build up feel-good chemicals (like endorphins). It gives you time away from problems, either with silence or music. This often helps by making time for reflective thinking and providing new energy and creative ideas for problem-solving. While walking outside may refresh your spirits with the beauty of nature around you, walking on a treadmill might renew your mind with good reading material or positive quotes to memorize. Regular exercise helps you sleep better, too.
Your body and mind cannot function properly without enough sleep and without quality sleep. Your spirit will feel burdened down without the rest it needs through good sleep. Sleep is both a way to rest from stressors, and a way for your brain to problem solve without you getting in the way. Many find that if they write their problems down just before bedtime, the solution comes to them when they wake in the morning.
Sometimes you just need people — even when you don't feel like it. Choosing healthy friends, setting good boundaries and participating in positive interactions will help your mood. Interacting with others activates different areas in the brain that can help with good feelings, too.
5. Play outside
. The sun has good vitamins for you that directly affect your mood. Fresh air has a knack for filling your lungs when you didn’t even realize you were not breathing good, full breaths. Playing outside helps you get moving (even a little bit helps). Sitting quietly and reflecting on the beauty around you releases stress and teaches new ways of seeing the world. This is good for both your brain and heart health.
Stress can be related to fear and lack of confidence in a situation. There are often fewer reasons to be afraid when we have accurate knowledge. Knowledge can help a person calm enough to remember to use breathing exercises to calm down further. Understanding the way seasons affect our mood helps us better prepare before we are in crisis. Learning techniques to help lessen anxiety or improve mood may help a person feel more in control and able to intervene in their own behalf. Realizing there are ways to help makes us feel less helpless.
Writing down thoughts and feelings often helps to organize them. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts, you are empowered by identifying patterns, determining cause and effect, and recognizing solutions. Instead of feeling pressure looming over you, internal expression helps clear your thoughts.
9. Do something
When you feel overwhelmed, breaking things down into small tasks and doing one thing at a time will at least get you moving forward. When you feel alone, service for someone else helps reconnect you and restore gratitude. When you feel unmotivated, doing one small thing will help you remember how to accomplish something.
10. Do the opposite
If you feel sad, watch a funny movie and laugh. If you feel lonely, hang out with friends. If you feel stuck, overwhelmed or like you're drowning, then go outside and play (go for a walk, ride a bicycle, swim, feed the ducks). Sleep enough every night, but then get out of bed and start your day.
Mental health challenges can be temporary or long-term. They can be simple or very serious. We all have hard days. We all feel many emotions each day. The best way to keep your mental health is to focus on what can be fixed or helped, problems that can be solved, new skills that can be learned, or ways to restore balance.