Mental health has sparked conversations globally, especially during the pandemic. The World Health Organization reported a 25% increase in mental health concerns worldwide. You want to make sure that you’re looking after your mental health for work and your day-to-day life. Although there are no life hacks for mental health, here are mental health strategies to improve your well-being.
1. Stay Active
One key component of overall well-being is exercise. Physical activity helps with your overall physical fitness and mood because exercise releases endorphins and serotonin.
When it comes to exercise and mental health, one thing to remember is that it’s not a cure. It’s one way to help you manage your day-to-day activities. After all, physical activity can energize you. If you’re starting a habit of exercising, you don’t want to over-exert. Start with beginner exercises or low-impact ones. Work out for around 10 to 20 minutes, and you’re done for the day. And one of the best things about exercise is you can do it in the comfort of your own home, while you’re working from home!
And as you move up a level, try challenging yourself by using equipment like dumbbells or resistance bands. But if exercise is not your cup of tea, yoga is a great alternative to staying active.
2. Take Breaks
Taking breaks is helpful when you’re working long hours. It’s recommended that you take breaks to take some time off to eat, rest your hands and eyes from the computer, and stretch so you wouldn’t be sitting the whole time. Don’t feel about taking breaks in between your work hours. Taking breaks also means taking a vacation or rest days too. This gives you time to recharge and reduce your stress from work. Don’t worry, you’ve earned it!
3. Get Some Good Sleep
We take sleep for granted. Sure, some people can still function even with less than eight hours of sleep. But if you’ve noticed a pattern of less sleep for a few weeks, it may affect your work performance and productivity. When it comes to getting sleep, it’s up to you what works for you. However, here are some tips for winding down:
- Disconnect from devices an hour before going to sleep
- Drink tea, such as chamomile or lavender
- Try aromatherapy
- Read a book
But if you have insomnia or other sleep disorders, you can consult a professional to help you treat them.
4. Mix Things Up
It can become monotonous or boring when we do the same tasks or things every day. When you do or try something new, you can find a new purpose. Something as little as having a plant at home can give you purpose. You’ll remember to give it sunlight or water it. One more reason why you should mix things up is that it can light up the reward center of your brain. For example, you can learn a new language. Maybe you want to study it every day OR go to a center weekly and study with others. Who knows, you might end up having new friends because of a new hobby.
5. Seek Help from Professionals
There’s still a stigma surrounding therapy because many assume that only those with debilitating mental health conditions or serious mental health issues can seek help. But if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed or you’re not managing well on your own, seeking help from professionals is one mental health strategy to try. Fortunately, there are therapists in different fields or disciplines. For example, if you’re struggling at work, you can reach out to a therapist to help you cope with problems at work.
6. Write in a Journal
If you’re not ready to talk to a professional yet, writing in a journal is an alternative. You have free rein on what to write in a journal. You can write your thoughts, feelings, what you’re thankful for, or how your day went. Having a journal doesn’t only record what happened during the day. But it can help you release things you’re not ready to share. Or it’s one way of understanding yourself and how you deal with certain situations.
7. Spend Time with Others and Yourself
Human connection is vital to your mental health. Sure, you might want to spend time alone most days. But spending time with the most valuable people in your life can boost your mood and make you happy and grateful for their company. Try doing activities with them like shopping, dining out, and taking a trip together. Or, if you’re going through a hard time, find your support system that can help you get through what you’re feeling.
On the other hand, you should also appreciate your own company. This is one of the most underutilized mental health strategies because setting boundaries is important to your well-being. It’s okay that you won’t talk to friends ALL the time. Spending time with yourself can help you learn more about what hobbies you can do, your strengths, and your likes and dislikes.
8. Treat Yourself Well
It’s easy to criticize ourselves or beat ourselves up. But if we continue to put ourselves down or make ourselves feel bad about things or our mistakes, it can become harmful to our well-being. If there’s one thing to remember, we’re only human. Making mistakes is part of living. And another thing to note is that no matter what you tell yourself, you have value and worth and that you matter.
It’s easy to think like that and difficult to practice. You can start with affirmations or countering negative thoughts. But if you want to put that off to a later time, why not treat yourself? Like buying something for yourself. Even if it makes you happy momentarily, know that you deserve to treat yourself from time to time.
9. Practice Mindfulness
When you regularly practice mindfulness, you will learn how to stay in the present moment and be aware of what’s going on. Some mindfulness exercises allow you to be in tune with your body and learn how to take it easy and take it all in.
At times, we get overwhelmed because of stressors in our life. And it’s important that we remember that some thoughts or events are temporary. Meditation is the best way to practice mindfulness. You can take around 5 to 10 minutes of your day to breathe and relax and disconnect from the world. Some other mindfulness exercises are:
- Mindful eating
- Mindful walking
- Mindful listening
- Mindful observation
- Name game
- Setting intentions
10. Eat Nutritious Food
One of the most overlooked mental health strategies is eating nutritious food. Normally, we crave food that isn’t necessarily healthy for us. Two research studies have shown that having a balanced diet can help your mood. Always include fruits and vegetables when eating your meals. Plus, Aetna says to eat food with fiber, antioxidants, folate, vitamin D, and magnesium.
Improving your mental health requires work. Mental health strategies mentioned above or ones that you’re already doing can manage day-to-day life. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t do it consistently or take some time to practice. So long as you’re doing the work, that’s good enough.