How to Improve Mental Health: 10 Proven Methods
Mental health has been getting a lot of buzz these days, and for good reason. The mind-body connection means that our mental health affects our physical health and vice versa. And sometimes, taking care of yourself can feel like a full-time job. But it can be overwhelming to know how to improve mental health – where is the best place to start?
What is Mental Health?
First, let’s understand what it is we’re talking about when we talk about how to improve mental health. Mental health refers to social, emotional, and psychological wellness. Although it all starts in the brain, mental health is so powerful that it can also have an effect on our physical health. For example, studies have shown that positive mental health can reduce a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. It’s crucial to understand that improving mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health, as the two are inextricably linked.
What is the Importance of Mental Health?
Better mental health leads to improved relationships with family and friends, the ability to cope with stress, and an overall sense of balance in life. Unstable mental health can have a long list of negative consequences, including things like poor work performance, depression, and feelings of unease, irritation, alienation, and isolation.
Positive mental health, on the other hand, can lead to a healthy work-life balance, better relationships with those around us, and the ability to accept life’s challenges in a constructive and healthy way. Stable mental health prepares us for hardship and acts as a buffer against the unpredictabilities and disappointments of life.
10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
Caring for your mental health is a priority, but it can be difficult to find ways to incorporate mindfulness into our busy lives. Here are ten strategies to improve mental health. (Note: don’t pressure yourself to incorporate all of these into your life at once. Do what works for you.)
Meditation is one of several increasingly popular ways to better your mental health across all ages and demographics. Meditation is a mindfulness practice that invites you to slow down and be present.
There are many different types of meditation: some encourage you to listen to your thoughts and follow them, and others invite you to focus on your breath and empty your mind. Some meditations are guided, some are meant to be done solo, and others are intended for a group session. Most require stillness and silence, but some meditations can be done while walking or chanting. The key is finding which form of meditation works best for you and finding ways to work regular sessions into your schedule (many people choose to meditate in the morning for a clearer mind throughout the day).
Sometimes, learning how to improve mental health starts with consulting a mental health professional. Traditional talk therapy, in which you talk with a therapist in person, online, or over the phone, can lead to uncovering thought or behavior patterns that we can’t see on our own. Other types of therapy include animal-assisted therapy, sound therapy, art therapy, and more. Be sure to check to see which therapists and therapy methods your insurance covers before signing up.
- Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is how the mind and body resets. Getting enough sleep consistently is one of the best ways for how to improve your mental health, especially during times of high stress. But as we all know, this can be easier said than done. Putting on soothing music or a sleep meditation can help lull you to sleep, but sticking to a sleep schedule is another story. Our minds race, or sometimes the brain is tired, but the body isn’t. Take the time to create a schedule, turn that TV off and put those devices away for a better night’s sleep. It requires discipline to stick to a sleep schedule, but your body and mind will thank you.
One of the ways to help mental health is journaling. Getting your thoughts and concerns down on paper (or typing them out on your phone or computer) can help uncover insights we wouldn’t think of otherwise. Sometimes, getting out of our head is the best medicine. One way to start journaling is by making a gratitude list. Practicing gratitude has been shown to have a host of benefits, including higher levels of happiness and improved self-esteem. Journaling can also cut through the noise and help you organize your thoughts and emotions, which can help you cope in everyday life.
- Talk with Loved Ones
Oftentimes, an honest chat with trusted friends or family about how we’re feeling can be just what the doctor ordered. It’s common that just being heard by a loved one is the thing that gets us mentally unstuck. Bottling up negative thoughts, feelings, or fears without expressing them is what keeps us stagnant in unhealthy mental health ruts. Having a scheduled catch up time is a good way to ensure you keep up communications and maintain those bonds of friendship. Plus, it’ll help your friends and family do the same! Social relationships are the unsung heroes of mental health. It’s not just self-care — it’s community care.
- Do What Brings You Joy
Practicing mindfulness and mental exercises will only get you so far. It’s important that we have an escape, which is often found in people’s hobbies. Whether your hobby is cycling, gardening with a gardening club, or browsing the library, performing an activity to release dopamine is a great thing to do for yourself every day! Life can demand much of you, and carving out time for your own joy is what makes life worth living.
This probably isn’t news to you, but it’s so important we’ll say it again: one of the best ways to improve mental health is by focusing on physical health. It has been proven that exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical. Even if you don’t like sweating or sore muscles, there are many types of exercise, from chair yoga to long walks to swimming, that could be a good fit for your body and movement preferences. However, remember that doing exercises you don’t like won’t be sustainable in the long run, so find something you enjoy. For example, if you hate HIIT exercise, you may only get through a few months of it before calling it quits. However, if you love playing basketball, you’ve found a great way to do something fun while getting exercise at the same time.
This one’s not for everyone but if positive affirmations are your thing, they can work wonders! Repeating an empowering phrase, either written down or spoken aloud (speaking is often more powerful), can engrain them in your brain and rewire your thinking. It’s the ultimate mind hack, like self-hypnosis. Write your own affirmations, such as, “I am surrounded by peace,” or find some online that apply to you. Repeat these to yourself in the mornings, when you’re feeling stressed, or anytime you feel you need an extra boost. They’re a great way to stay motivated on your journey to better mental health, as well as get yourself out of your head.
- Cut Out Toxicity
Ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat”? In reality, the food you eat has a huge impact on your mood, energy levels and overall health (both physical and mental). However, the things we consume aren’t limited to food. Toxicity comes in the form of negativity from others, as well as harmful self-talk. Take the time to assess where negativity is creeping into your life, whether it be that friend who doesn’t respect boundaries or your recent habit of hitting the fast food drive-thru on your way home from work. Cut out unhealthy food, negative people, bad vibes media, or whatever it is that’s bringing you down. Cutting out toxicity is difficult, so just start one day at a time. Start by limiting your exposure and then work your way up to eliminating toxic elements entirely.
- Set Boundaries
One of the secrets of positive mental health is setting clear boundaries and abiding by them. While setting boundaries for yourself is easy, the hard part is getting those around you to abide by them as well. This can be family members encroaching on your personal time, your job asking too much of you, or a friend who has been leaning too hard on you for support. For example, if your sister depends upon you for emotional support at all hours of the night when you have work in the morning, tell her you’re not available past 9pm and enforce that rule.
Set Your Intention with Rastaclat
Starting the journey to better mental health is easy, it’s sticking to the path that becomes difficult. Use mindfulness bracelets from Rastaclat to help you stay centered on your intention and remain focused on your goal to improve mental health. Our collection of positivity bracelet offers motivation when times get tough and help bring awareness back to your intention.
With a Rastaclat bracelet, you can cultivate a positive mindset as you go about your daily routine. Plus, when you shop with Rastaclat, you’re supporting the Seek the Positive Foundation to inspire, educate, and unite humankind. Start shopping today!