It is a new year and most of us have made new plans for ourselves. I am assuming most of you have goals set for your new fitness and nutrition plan. One thing that often gets overlooked though is our mental health needs. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or seasonal affective disorder than it is time to prioritize your mental health and make a plan for it just as you would your physical health. You can be as skinny or as fit as you want but if you don’t feel good on the inside, you are not going to get very far. I recently found an interesting article that outlined sixteen things we can do to be proactive with our mental health in 2016. For the full article, visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-improve-mental-health_56684e10e4b0f290e52154ba
Here is the short version of the list. I hope you find these ideas helpful either for yourself or someone you know who struggles with mental health! Thank you for reading everyone. May you have a healthy and happy start to 2016. ~Mindy
- Talk to your doctor.
The first initial step of any health transformation is to consult a medical professional. They can then refer you to a clinician who is able to tailor to your specific needs.
- Practice gratitude.
Life’s so much better when you’re acknowledging the bright side. Research suggests that expressing what you’re thankful for — from your dog to your favorite song on the radio — will improve your mental well-being.
- Try meditation.
The practice has a host of health benefits, from better concentration to improved mental well-being. There are multiple methods of meditation that offer varying degrees of investment. That being said, the practice doesn’t have to be complicated: Try just setting aside five minutes for meditation when you wake up or before you go to bed. You’ll likely either start or end your day on a positive note.
- Write in a journal.
Putting pen to paper can be a liberating. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash.
- Go to therapy.
Just like you’d see a doctor for a physical illness, the same standard should apply to mental illness. There are multiple methods, from talk therapy to behavioral therapy, and a mental health professional can help you figure out the avenue that works best for you.
- Exercise at least a few times per week.
When you exercise, your brain releases the feel-good chemicals, giving you an instant mood boost. Additionally, try to take your workout outdoors. Research suggests group walks (yes, walking is considered exercise) in nature can help ease depressive symptoms.
- Lean on your support system.
After all, what are friends for? Research also shows that social connection is imperative to mental health. Spend as much time as possible with your loved ones, whether it’s going to dinner or just watching a movie together.
- Educate yourself.
Mental health conditions are much easier to manage when you know what’s really happening inside the mind. For example, did you know that some disorders may be genetic? Did you know that many conditions have physical symptoms? Learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with or what your loved ones are experiencing.
- Adopt a well-balanced diet.
Put good in, get good out. Eating well is key to overall health, including your mental well-being. Try incorporating fruits and vegetables in your diet more often along with brain-boosting foods like walnuts and spinach.
- Listen to sad music.
Research shows sad songs may help you heal after a breakup. They also may prompt a few tears which science says is good for you. One recent study found that a good cry can help boost your mood.
Sometimes a change of perspective involves a change of scenery. Research suggests that planning a vacation can increase your overall happiness as you anticipate your trip. If you’re looking for travel suggestions, someplace with water may be a good place to start. Studies show being near the ocean can make you calmer.
- Sleep more.
Who doesn’t love an excuse to sleep in? Research shows sleep deprivation can make it difficult for someone to regulate their emotions. Try going to bed just 10 minutes earlier every night work your way up to a healthy amount of sleep.
- Do a digital detox.
Research suggests that people can feel depressive symptoms from scrolling Facebook, likely due to the internal social comparison that’s taking place. The antidote? A break. Ditch those devices every so often for the sake of your mental health.
- Express kindness toward someone else.
Want to feel good yourself? Make someone else feel good. Studies show that kindness can be cyclical. When you do a good deed for others, that makes them happier, which in turns make you happier, too. Even the smallest gesture can make a difference. Pay it forward every so often and reap the benefits.
15. Learn to say no.
Burnout happens easily, in the office and outside of it. Make sure to spend some time alone and prioritize your well-being. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t do it. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak up. Self care is not selfish.
- Talk to others about mental health.
You never know who you may be helping by opening up about your own experience. You will feel better after opening up too!