From childhood through to adulthood, mental health is a very important aspect of our lives. Encompassing our emotional, social and psychological wellbeing, it shapes the way we make choices, handle stress and connect with others.
However, many of us seem to forget how important good mental health is. Often, we focus solely on improving our physical appearance, completely disregarding the fact that it is the mind that controls and manages the body. Similar to a computer’s central processing unit, we won’t be able to do anything at 100%—no matter how advanced or expensive our hardware is—if our mind is in poor shape.
The Benefits of Good Mental Health
Just as exercise helps our body stay strong and healthy, nurturing good mental health enables us to improve our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing. Having good mental health allows us to build strong connections with other people and fully enjoy what life has to offer.
In fact, good mental health also gives our mood and creativity a boost, and it motivates us to learn and try new things. It even makes us bold enough to take risks. Good mental health also helps us manage stress, preventing it from getting in the way of our day-to-day lives. In addition, it makes us more resilient when we are confronted by life’s many challenges, allowing us to quickly get back on our feet and move on so we can be happy once again.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of cultivating mental fitness is that it makes us less susceptible to mental health problems, including those that are related to chronic physical illnesses. In some cases, it can even prevent the onset of both physical and mental diseases or the possibility of relapse.
Improving Your Mental Health
Obtaining professional support and treatment has proven to be the most effective way of ensuring sound mental health. By consulting highly trained mental health experts, you will receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment, as well as excellent advice and better knowledge of how to take good care of yourself.
In addition to seeking professional support, there are many other ways to enhance your mental health. Something as simple as making small changes to your lifestyle can go a long way towards improving not only your psychological and emotional wellbeing, but also many other aspects of your life.
- Tell yourself something positive every day
According to studies, how you perceive yourself can significantly affect how you feel. If you view everything around you (including yourself) from a negative perspective, you are likely to see experiences in the same light. As a result, nothing that comes your way will seem enjoyable anymore.
Rather than being negative all the time, experts suggest that you should tell you something uplifting every day. Always use positive words and phrases. Example “I want to eradicate my fear“. Change it to “I am always courageous”. In this way replace always negative words with positive words
Another strategy is to imagine yourself as your best friend. Now, would you say hurtful things to someone you trust and love?
- Connect with others
Because human beings are social creatures, we need to build connections with other people. As such, if you are feeling down, you shouldn’t isolate yourself because this could just make things worse. Instead, you should spend time with your friends and family, or even with your pets. Or, if perhaps you are new to the neighbourhood and don’t know anyone yet, you could try doing some voluntary work or join a community club where you can meet people who share your hobbies and interests. Alternatively, if you are not much of an outdoor person, having online friends works too. So why not join a safe online community where you can meet and connect with new people?
Let us understand that regular exercise enhances our physical and mental health to a greater extent. When we do physical activities, such as working out at the gym or playing sports, our brain releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals in the body that help relieve stress and pain, as well as improve our mood.
If you don’t have the time to go to the gym or play sports, there are other simple means by which you can add some physical activity to your daily routine. For example, if you work on an upper floor, try taking the stairs instead of the lift. Or, rather than driving your car to your workplace, why not walk or cycle whenever possible?
In order to get the most out of your exercise regime, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If possible, do this outdoors because exposure to sunlight helps the human body produce more vitamin D. Moreover, being outdoors and surrounded by nature has been proven to help reduce stress.
- Take a break
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break when everything feels as if it’s getting too much. If something is stressing you out, think about going away for a while until you feel a bit better. Not only will this help you reduce your stress levels, it will also allow you to restore your equilibrium, so you are better equipped to face any challenges.
If going on holiday is out of the question, a simple breathing exercise may help you feel better in no time at all. For example, if something is troubling you, close your eyes and take ten deep breaths. For every breath you take, count to four as you inhale. Hold your breath for four seconds and then exhale for another four seconds. You will soon reap the rewards!
- Get quality sleep
Scientists have found that being in a constant state of sleep deprivation has a negative impact on our mood. That is why it is extremely important to get a good night’s sleep every night. By sleeping well, you will feel more energised and focused throughout the day. This also strengthens your immune system and improves your mental health.
To get a good night’s sleep, you should avoid eating heavily and don’t do any strenuous physical activity one hour before bedtime. Also, avoid caffeinated drinks at night and only use your bed for sleep or relaxing activities. Finally, as far as is possible, do not use your phone in bed because the light from the screen can have a harmful effect on your sleep quality.
For a long, happy and fulfilling life, it is essential to cultivate good mental health. Besides seeking professional help, there are many ways to ensure mental fitness. By making simple changes to your lifestyle, you can significantly improve your social, emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Leigh Adley is a qualified clinical hypnotherapist/psychotherapist based in Milton Keynes. Her website, Set Your Mind Free, aims to help people get rid of their unwanted habits or addictions.