We all know it is essential to keep our body healthy by eating correctly and participating in exercise, but did you know it’s just as equally as important to keep your mind healthy. We have gathered our top 10 tips for developing good mental health.
1. Importance of Sleep on Mental Health
Sleep is crucial for our body to recover; it allows our brain to consolidate our memories and process information. Poor sleep can lead to developing mental health illnesses and experiencing mental fog the next day, along with feelings of decreased mood/energy levels. For adults, it is essential to achieve over 7 hours of sleep a night for good mental health. You will notice the difference between how you feel after a good night’s sleep and a bad one.
2. Limit Media and Technology Use
As a society, we spend a lot of time on social media consuming information and highlight reels of other people’s lives. Social media can be toxic to one’s mental health if not regulated; it can be addictive, and people can spend hours upon hours a day scrolling, looking at other people’s lives rather than living their own to their full extent. It’s essential not to cut out social media and technology use altogether but limit time on devices. A few ways you can do this is first, don’t touch your phone 30-minutes before going to bed and 30-minutes after waking up in the morning. Secondly, there is a preference on your phone where it limits the use of selected apps during the day/only allows you to spend a particular time on each social media app; you can set it to your desired preference. Finally, be present and enjoy time with your family and friends. You don’t have to snapshot every moment of your life. Instead, try to communicate with others offline and make an effort not to touch your phone while around them. Simply just implementing one of these tips into your daily routine can increase your mental health significantly.
3. Practice Positive Mental Health Exercises
It is essential to train your mind just like any other muscle in your body. Practising mental health exercises for as little as 10-minutes a day can immediately lift your mood and improve overall mental health. Simple mental health exercises include:
Meditation – start with guided meditation. There are many apps available for your use to get you started on your mediation journey. Slowing down your breathing and taking your mind away from daily stresses will ease your mind, and you will find yourself relaxing and ready to conquer the day with a fresh mindset.
Journaling – writing down your thoughts and feelings can significantly help relieve your mind and help bring clarity to your thoughts. Journaling can be done at any time of the day. Whether you feel overwhelmed, down or anxious, journaling is a great tool to let go of some of those thoughts bringing you down. It can be useful to set a time limit to journaling, allow yourself a period of around 30 minutes, where you express and release your thoughts on paper, this enables you to leave them on the paper. Once your time is up, close your journal and invest yourself in mindful activity, for example listen to music or drink or eat something mindfully.
Dance/listen to music – dancing and listening to upbeat music can increase serotonin and reduce cortisol levels within the body. Putting on a good tune and having a boogie is known to ease anxiety and improve your mood. So if you’re feeling a little down, pop on some good music, have a dance around, and you’re set to have a great day.
4. Set Realistic, Achievable Goals
There is nothing better than achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself. Whether it is big or small, accomplishing a goal makes you feel proud and productive. Writing out a to-do list and crossing out your daily or weekly errands once completing them is a great way to feel good and helps to increase your mental health, similar to achieving long or short-term goals. However, it is vital to set realistic goals. If you constantly have 100 tasks on your to-do list and can never achieve them or find yourself setting goals too big, it can be pretty discouraging and negatively affect your well-being. Start with small, simple, achievable goals and slowly work your way up to achieving your big goals – one step at a time.
5. How Eating Nourishing Food Increases Your Mental Health
Nourishing your body with good foods, full of vitamins and minerals, is essential to feeling good. Of course, eating chocolate or ice cream here or there is also good for the soul, but if poor food choices are the majority of your diet, it can negatively affect your physical and mental health. Eating good food is known to help manage your stress, bring you more clarity, and decrease anxiety levels, improving your well-being. There are plenty of recipes online with meals to replenish your body and mind; for example, did you know a basic Mediterranean diet is good for mental health?!
6. How Sunlight Increases Your Mood
Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of serotonin, boosting your mood and enabling you to feel happy, calm, and focused. Sunlight also increases vitamin D, promoting reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth. Just 15 minutes of daylight a day can lift your mood significantly. Whether working from home or in an office, try to implement regular breaks outdoors and soak up the sunshine.
7. How To Manage Stress Levels
Learning how to manage your stress will decrease your anxiety levels and can be achieved through several strategies. When you start to feel overwhelmed, go for a walk, or do another activity that helps to take your mind off the situation. Further, writing down a list of things you need to complete and planning your week can help break down the more significant, more daunting tasks. This will help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed or anxious. Stress can be caused by doing too much and not allowing yourself to have a break. Set a time during the day when you switch off from all work, study, or responsibilities that trigger your stress, and put on your favourite TV show, read a book or go for a walk to relax and unwind. We are all born with an accessible tool to manage stress, it’s called breath! During stressful moments, conscious controlled breathing tells your brain to be calm. This allows us to have direct effect on the arousal centre of our brain, taking the time to implement deep and slow breaths means calm breathing leads to a calm mind.
8. Participating in Movement & Exercise to Increase Your Mental Health
Moving your body and exercising releases endorphins, boosting your mood and energy levels. Any exercise will help improve your self-esteem and cognitive functions. Don’t think that exercising only means running or lifting weights; you need to find an enjoyable activity. Whether cycling, pilates, yoga, swimming, walking, or dancing, many different forms of exercise will lead to improved mental health. As mentioned above, exercising also helps to reduce cortisol levels, so as well as creating a regular routine to limit technology use and practice mental health exercises, incorporate physical activity into your daily habits to help improve your mental health.
9. Make Time for an Activity You Enjoy
If you live a life constantly participating in tasks you don’t necessarily enjoy and are not motivated to get out of bed every day, your mental health can suffer. It’s essential for your happiness to complete activities you enjoy, from painting to walking the dog or hiking a mountain. Find the time to schedule an activity you enjoy and look forward to an activity that is vital for your overall well-being.
10. Spend Time With Others
Spending time with friends or family is incredibly important for your social well-being. Laughing, smiling, and communicating with others will help you fight off those negative thoughts and replace them with feelings of love, happiness, and a sense of belongingness. Whether spending a weekend away with your friends, going out for dinner, or calling them for a chat, any social interaction will help boost your mental health.
Start applying these top 10 tips into your life, and you will see a significant difference in the way you think, feel and act. When you start taking steps to improve your mental health, you will begin to see the world in a different light and get excited to bounce out of bed every day and conquer the world. If you want to learn more about your mental health in-depth and develop the tools to improve self-care, check out our blog 10 Books About Self-Care or join our Elevate Wellbeing program, working and supporting people to become the best version of themselves for almost 30 years. We have supported individuals with one-on-one counselling, groups, information and education, business training, supervision and more. Over the decades, we have worked with thousands of people to give them the skills to make incredible positive growth and change.