Mental illness is increasingly recognized as a problem throughout the world. People are becoming more aware of the importance of caring for themselves both physically and mentally.
The main issue is that most people don’t really know the right way to improve their mental health. For example, stress reduction and emotional regulation are practical skills that are important to achieve mental well-being, but these aren’t commonly learned in schools.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your mental health, here are eight simple, easy, and psychologically-based ways to do so.
1. Start a healthy lifestyle
Mental and physical wellness often work together; if you neglect one, the others will likely suffer.
When you feel overwhelmed with your mental wellbeing, a great way to get back on course is by consuming foods that have been shown to increase endorphins, decrease anxiety, stress, and exhaustion.
Next time you feel really low, why not try taking a nap, having a workout, or engaging in an activity that gets you moving? These can definitely give you a lift!
2. Socialize with a friend
In today’s world of social media and the ever growing popularity of online dating sites, it can be hard to find genuine connections with others.
With so much information flying around about everyone else, it is difficult to make meaningful connections with anyone unless they know who you really are.
To combat this problem, I suggest taking a break from social media for a while and spending more time with those closest to you. Reach out to old friends, talk to your parents, join an interest group, or volunteer somewhere where you feel comfortable sharing yourself.
No matter how you choose to connect with others, it is vital that you do so in a healthy manner. Studies have shown that building strong personal bonds is one of the best ways to improve your overall happiness and life satisfaction (Waldingher, 2015).
3. Start a hobby get a goal
According to world renowned psychologist Martin Seligman (2012), there are 6 essential elements to positive well being known as the PERMA model, and we’ve already discussed 2 of those (Health & Relationships).
Well, this tip deals with 3: Positive Emotion, Engagement, and Achieving Goals. And you can experience ALL of these when you have a Hobby or a Passion that you really care about.
It could be any thing at all that you find enjoyable, takes you out of yourself, and keeps you focused on what matters.
4. Learn to relax
Relaxing techniques are often taught by psychologists to those who suffer from trauma, stress, panic, and phobias, but they can benefit anyone.
Some of the most commonly used are progressive muscle relaxers, deep breaths, and abdominal guided images — all of which you could easily find out about from various self-help books or internet guides available.
Relaxing techniques help us mentally because they’ve been proven to lower stress, lower blood pressures, and reduce psychosomatic effects (like heart palpitations, sweating, tightness in the chest, and difficulty in breath).
Another great way to enhance your mental wellness is through improved awareness and concentration.
And while it’s admittedly more difficult to get into than simple relaxing techniques — you might have heard of monks and Buddhists taking years to fully grasp it — mindful meditations can be an extremely powerful and effective method in combating any troubling thoughts, feelings, and situations (Teasdale & Sagal, 2007).
5. Practice gratitude
Finally, researchers have found that optimism and gratefulness are the two most important things in a person’ s happiness and overall well-being that they can directly affect (Alspach, 2013).
If you’ve been having trouble staying positive recently or if there are certain aspects of your personal situation that are causing you stress, then try writing down three things each day that you’re grateful for.
By practicing gratitude in your everyday routine, you begin to appreciate just how fortunate you really are.
6. Have healthy boundaries
We often find ourselves in situations where we must make decisions about what we should say or not say to certain individuals.
In these cases, it is good to know our own boundaries so that we can protect our own mental and emotional energy.
When we communicate our boundaries more clearly and kindly, we can help others understand why we choose to keep certain conversations private.
By protecting our mental and emotional energy, we will be able to devote it only to those relationships that really count.
7. Develop emotion regulation skills
One thing that’s important to remember is that even negative feelings like frustration, disappointment, and sadness can be helpful if we know how to handle them correctly.
For example, when we feel frustrated because something isn’t going according to plan, we may want to think about how we could improve what we’re doing instead of thinking negatively about ourselves.
And when we experience disappointment after failing at something, we might need to remind ourselves that failure doesn’t mean we’re not good enough.
And when we feel sad because someone close to us died, we might want to focus on remembering happy memories from their lives rather than dwelling on the loss itself.
Next time you’re feeling your emotions start to get the better of yourself, whether they be anger, sadness, frustration, etc., stop and breathe deeply before responding.
If you really need to, then move away from the situation and find an outlet where you can safely let go of your emotions.
Overall, although most of these tips seem fairly straightforward and easy to implement, especially on a daily level, they’re already a big step in the right direction towards taking better control of our mental health and thriving in every aspect of our lives.
However, if you feel that there may be a more serious underlying cause for these feelings, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor now and get the help you deserve to lead a happier, healthier lifestyle.