Some Daily Habits to Improve your Mental Health
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! The subject of mental health is something that should be discussed all year long, but this particular month offers an important reminder that mental health is an essential component to our overall health and quality of life. It’s also a time to recognize that mental illnesses are common and treatable.
Get plenty of rest
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for brain functionality and mood stability. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. We realize this may not be possible every night, but you should strive to follow a healthy sleep schedule as much as possible with sufficient time to allow your brain to rest and re-charge for the next day. If you usually have trouble falling or staying asleep, be sure to cut your screen time an hour before bed so you can allow your brain to gradually power down for the night. Bedtime meditation and journaling can also help you relax and unwind before bed.
Exercise is just as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health! When you exercise, your body releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins which help relieve the body of stress and pain. Regular exercise can also raise the serotonin levels in your brain which boost your mood and overall sense of well-being. With this in mind, be sure to devote at least 20 minutes of your day to physical activity, whether it’s a high-speed bike ride or brisk walk around the block.
According to the American Psychological Association, meditation is about training your attention to achieve a mental state of calm, concentration and positive emotions. It’s a simple and relaxing way to help manage stress and improve your overall mood. While there are many types of meditation, they usually include these 4 essential elements:
- A quiet location with as few distractions
- Comfortable posture (usually sitting or lying down)
- Focused attention on the breath, sensations in the body, or a specific mantra
- An open attitude and ability to let distractions come and go naturally
One of the best things about meditation is that it doesn’t require much time out of your day. Even just 10 minutes of meditation per day can help you achieve calm and a relaxed mental state.
Limiting phone use
Like millions of Americans, you probably find yourself frequently checking your smartphone throughout the day, reading the news or mindlessly scrolling through social media. While there are many benefits to staying informed and connected, our smartphones also have a tendency to expose us to negative content that can trigger anxiety and feed into our fears and insecurities. Be sure to set aside some time throughout your day to disconnect from your phone and focus on your surroundings. Use this time to talk to your family and friends face-to-face or do something productive around the house, like gardening or folding laundry.
Write in your journal
If you find yourself overwhelmed with an overactive and anxious mind, journaling is a great way to reduce the mental clutter. Writing down your thoughts provides clarity and focus that enables you to problem-solve and process your emotions more effectively. You can also use journaling to gain a more positive outlook on life. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day writing down 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you accomplished.