Before you go on with this article, it is of major importance that you understand this; your mental health is more than a diagnosis. Mental health is your overall emotional, psychological and social well-being, how you feel about yourself and others, your ability to understand your feelings and go through everyday difficulties. Therefore, whether you require professional help or not, there are a few simple steps to help you improve your mental health.
Evaluate the situation: Are you leading a stress/anger/depression inducing lifestyle? Are there people in your life that drag you down? Are you in a situation that causes you stress? If the answer to any of the questions above is affirmative, please proceed.
1. Take care of your body.
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but your body’s health affects your mental health more than you can imagine! Try to eat more nutritious meals until eating healthy is a habit. Avoid smoking. Stay hydrated. If you keep forgetting to drink water, set an alarm to remind yourself. Get enough sleep, as the lack of it is related to a high rate of depression. Cut down on refined sugar and more magnesium in your diet. Magnesium consumption has been shown to help alleviate headaches and fatigue. You can find it in leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, avocados and figs. It is also important that you exercise. It’ll improve your overall mood and decrease your anxiety and depression levels.
2. Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Drinking from time to time is not bad at all, but many people use alcohol to alter their mood and deal with feelings of loneliness. Although alcohol might actually be helpful, the effect is only temporary. It also is harmful to your body and the more you drink, the more you’ll crave for the same amount of relief. So, instead of impairing your body for a short-term boost, why not follow step one?
3. Keep in touch.
Surround yourself with people who love, appreciate and value you. Choose supportive people and burn bridges with those who make you feel inadequate. Friends and family will help you feel included, cared for and give you different opinions on what’s been troubling you. If you’ve not talked for long, text or call them. Remember that it’s worth working on relationships that make you feel loved and valued.
4. Help others/ Volunteer.
Helping others is considered to have a beneficial effect on how you feel and think about yourself. Being polite and valued for your help will have a positive effect on your self-esteem. Being helpful to others also means you get to know them better, as you spend more time with them and it can widen and enrich your life. So how about a hand to that neighbour that needed help with their garden?
5. Accept yourself.
Accepting how unique you are will enhance your confidence. Be proud of who you are, acknowledge what you’re good at and what you’re not. Recognise that you are enough. Focus on what you’re good at and how you can improve yourself.
6. Do what you’re good at.
Doing an activity you enjoy and achieving something is a great boost to your self-esteem. Concentrating on a hobby will help you forget about your troubles for a while and will change your mood for the best. If you don’t have a hobby that allows you to relax, you can try gardening, colouring pictures with some music on or take a quiet walk.
7. Give yourself a break.
You don’t have to be busy 24/7. Try to take some time off every day for some “me-time”. You could take up yoga or meditation to calm yourself down. Take a nap if you need to. Maybe go on a short trip for the weekend or explore something new. Do something besides your routine. It’ll give you a new aspect of life and can make going through the week much easier.
8. Set realistic goals.
Setting the bar high is good, of course. But if you’re aiming too high, this may demotivate you and make you achieve even less than you’re capable of. Make a plan of weekly or monthly targets to achieve. Give yourself the motive you need to get you working on your goals. Keep your goals to a reasonable height and do your best!
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Remind yourself this: it’s not a shame to share your feelings. Find a friend or family member who’s willing to hear you out. Sometimes, even being simply listened to, is enough. Don’t let yourself feel alone, seek support. Look for help, professional or not, when you need to!
You may also want to read:
5 Mental Health Benefits of Laughter