This post was written by Evelyn from garagegymplanner.com.
Studies have shown that one in four people will be affected by a mental disorder at one point in their lives. Still, we often just focus on improving ourselves physically. We spend a lot of time looking for healthier recipes or thinking of ways to maintain our workout motivation, yet we never give a thought to our mental and emotional well-being.
This is a sad fact given that mental health has a big impact on the quality of our lives. It affects our actions and way of thinking. It also determines the decisions we make, our relationships, and how we handle stress.
So, if you’re making plans to improve your life this year, don’t forget to make mental health a priority. Here are 11 lifestyle changes that you can make to boost your mental health.
1. Have an honest talk with your doctor.
Just as you need to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise, you also need to talk to a professional on how to improve mental health. Your physician can screen for anxiety or depression or refer you to someone who can help you deal with certain issues.
2. Improve your diet.
What we put in our bodies also affect the state of our minds. It’s important that we know what to eat to improve mental health. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables boost mental health while a high-fat diet increases the risk of anxiety. Look for ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your meal.
Related reading: Eating Healthy on a Budget
3. Prioritize exercise.
Endorphins are a great workout motivation. This feel-good hormone is released during exercise, giving you a mood boost. Make exercise a priority and you’ll be reaping its benefits mentally and physically. You don’t even have to run for an hour or enroll in a spin class. A 20-minute walk or gardening for half an hour can be enough for some.
Related reading: Finding Motivation to Exercise
4. Learn ways to reduce stress.
Stress affects our mental health so coming up with ways to reduce it can do wonders for our well-being. Meditation or yoga are good ways to relieve stress and keep us healthy. Meditating for 10 to 25 minutes a day is already enough to build your resilience and mind strength.
5. Get good quality sleep.
Lack of sleep makes it difficult for us to function well physically and mentally. Research shows that it’s difficult to make good decisions and control our emotions when we’re sleep-deprived. We can improve the quality of our slumber by developing a sound sleep routine. Having a regular sleep cycle and wake-up time, dimming the lights, and minimizing noise can help us sleep more soundly. We should also avoid caffeine, alcohol, or heavy meals a few hours before our bedtime.
6. Go to therapy.
Most are afraid to go to therapy because of the stigma associated with it. This is unfortunate as talking about your problems and issues with a professional is very helpful. A mental health professional can guide you on how to deal with negative thoughts, teach you how to cope, and figure out what therapy is the most beneficial for you.
7. Start journaling.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is a healthy way to release stress and have peace of mind. Start a journal and put your thoughts and anxieties on paper. You can then forget about what you wrote or go back and reflect on it. One study even found that writing down what’s worrying you and physically throwing away the paper can actually relieve stress.
8. Arm yourself with knowledge.
Education is power, particularly when it comes to mental health. You can have a better grasp of what you’re feeling or what a loved one is dealing with if you understand what’s happening inside your mind. More importantly, learning a new skill, reading a book, or going to a museum helps keep your mind sharp.
9. Unplug yourself.
Checking social media can also adversely affect your health. Who hasn’t felt a little envious when seeing a relative enjoying their vacation in Cancun or a friend showing off her engagement ring on Facebook? There’s even research suggesting that some feel depressed when browsing Facebook. One solution to that is to unplug from social media from time to time.
10. Show kindness.
There’s something to be said about paying it forward. Do a good deed for someone. Show kindness and make someone happy. Making someone feel good will also make you feel good in return.
11. Don’t forget your support system.
We all need our friends and family. Connecting with people is crucial to our mental health. A few hours spent hanging out with your best friend or going out to dinner with a sibling can reduce stress significantly.
We should not forget our mental and emotional health. It’s just as important as our physical well-being. Aside from learning how to make healthy food choices or striving to hold on to our workout motivation, we should also make lifestyle changes that will improve our mental health.