Mental health is just as important as your physical health for living a happy and healthy life. While there are some mental health risk factors that are beyond your control, there are still plenty of things you can do to improve the state of your mental health on your own.
Take care of your body
Just like your mental health contributes to your physical health, your physical health influences your mental health as well. Regular exercise and proper diet improve your mental capacity and longevity, according to recent studies. Being overweight or consuming a diet that is heavy in salts and fats can make your body and your mind very lethargic. Some of the best ways to improve your physical health are to eat nutritious meals rich in fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, exercise, and get enough sleep. Additionally, avoid smoking at all costs.
Have a good support system
People who have strong family and social connections tend to be healthier in general than people who lack a support network altogether. If you already have supportive family and friends, spend more time with them. If you don’t, look into joining a club, class, or support group that will allow you to meet new people and form healthy relationships.
Avoiding the outdoors could be negatively impacting your mental health. Recent studies are showing that spending just a few minutes a day in nature can help to boost your self-esteem as well as decrease brain activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is the area that is responsible for ruminating over negative thoughts.
Moderate your time on social media
While having social connections is linked to better mental health, maintaining friendships over social media sites may actually be more trouble than it’s worth. Some recent research is suggesting that reading other people’s positive status updates can actually make you feel worse about yourself. For this reason, time spent on social networking sites has been linked to depressive symptoms in some studies as well.
Avoid alcohol and drugs
Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid all other drugs. While some people believe that drug and alcohol use is for “self-medicating” purposes, all it really does is aggravate and increase existing problems.
Learn how to deal with stress
Stress is and always will be a part of your life. However, learning how to deal with periods of stress can work wonders for your mental health. When you are feeling extremely stressed, try to practice good coping skills such as exercise, yoga, nature walks, journal writing, or playing with your pet. It is also beneficial to learn how to smile and see the humor in situations, even when they seem impossible to deal with. Laughter has been shown to boost your immune system, ease pain, reduce stress, and relax your body.
Keep a diary or journal
The simple process of writing out your feelings and reactions to life’s events can do great things for your mental well-being. Writing can help you to make sense of issues that you may not even consciously recognize until you write them down. Writing down parts of your day, as well as your goals and aspirations can help you to manage stress and reduce anxiety.
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