The topic of mental health can sometimes be a taboo subject. However, tackling the problems that poor mental health can present is essential for the impact they have on your body too. With the beginning of a new year, make sure that you check in on your inner self. Here are five quick and easy ways to instantly improve your mental health (and boost your physical wellbeing too).
We all know that exercise is good for our physical body, but it has many beneficial effects on mental health too. Staying active is an excellent way to release tension and frustrations. A recent Harvard study found that walking for even 15 minutes a day can cut the risk of depression by 26 percent. The release of endorphins helps to keep your mind calm and relaxed, and those who exercise regularly also enjoy better sleep and better sex – two critical components for maintaining robust mental health.
Exercising can help you stay more focused and alert, which in turn helps to strengthen and improve mental health. Life will always be filled with new and unexpected challenges, but exercising regularly, along with a healthy diet, can make it easier to weather these storms.
Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are suggested as the best for mental health improvement. Still, even an afternoon spent gardening can be all it takes to see a significant change in feeling more mentally relaxed and physically stronger. Meditation and yoga can also be fantastic for promoting mental calmness and physical stamina.
2. Spending Time With Family and Friends
Common triggers for poor mental health are often rooted in anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Our busy modern lives often see us moving away from family and having little free time to spend with friends. Having a strong network of social support is crucial when looking to maintain good mental health. Our loved ones provide a safe space for us to share our worries, help us during tough times, and reinforce our positive sense of self. Even a quick coffee with a friend once a week can help to boost our overall sense of wellbeing, and taking the time to share a problem can be tremendously cathartic. Being able to help a friend in return is also equally rewarding and maintaining healthy friendships throughout our lives promotes a mutually positive effect on mental and physical health.
However, having boundaries is also a crucial foundation for good mental health. Keeping a toxic relationship in your life can be far more damaging than releasing that friendship or partner. Negative comments and controlling behavior can eat away at self-esteem and play havoc with mental wellbeing. Although it can be challenging, no one is worth sacrificing your peace and happiness, so always check in with yourself and your limits.
3. Quality Me-Time
Spending time alone can be equally as beneficial to your mental health as being around friends and loved ones. After all, the person you spend the most time in your life talking to is – well, you! – so it is integral to your mental health that you speak kindly to yourself and take the time to check-in and explore your inner state of mind regularly.
It is also an excellent time to cultivate a self-care routine. Find a daily affirmation that works for you, halt negative self-talk, and set realistic targets and goals, rewarding yourself when you reach them. Take time to rejuvenate the body and mind. Try disconnecting from electronics and social media periodically and experience the wonderfully detoxifying effect this has.
4. Get Better Sleep
Without proper sleep, our bodies cannot function and our mental health may suffer. Poor sleep results in the body being unable to repair itself properly, which in turn can cause a lowered immune system and make us more prone to illnesses. Feeling tired or run down can have a massively negative impact on mental health. Studies have shown those with a history of sleep deprivation are more likely to experience regular bouts of anxiety or depression.
To combat this, try creating a calming nighttime routine and ensure your bedroom is free from disturbing factors such as excessive light or noise. Essential oils can be a natural way to calm the mind and even a few drops of lavender oil in a bath or directly onto your pillow can help encourage a deeper, more restful sleep.
5. Embrace Nature
No matter where you live, something as simple as taking a walk in a local park can see a massive boost to your overall mental wellbeing. Connecting with our surroundings and removing ourselves temporarily from the hustle and bustle of modern life can be incredibly soothing for the mind. Combining this with mild exercises, such as walking, can be doubly beneficial for the body too. By frequently taking time to be outside and interact with the natural world around us, we can forget for a moment our daily distractions and instead embrace a habit of mindfulness. Separation from urban settings can allow for more considerable contemplation, better problem solving, and an overall sense of personal rejuvenation.
It is an unfortunate fact that most people will suffer from some form of mental health issue at some point during their lifetime. However, with these few quick and easy steps, there are now plenty of simple and cost-effective ways to improve your mental health and experience the positive impact this has on your physical wellbeing too.
I would love to hear your tips on what helps you improve your mental health.