A person’s general mental health affects all other areas of their lives. When neglected, it can lead to a series of problems, like stress, burnout, and even mental disorders. Stress can also cause physical symptoms, from headaches to even hives and ulcers. Though some issues are temporary, many of them can cause long-term and even permanent damage.
In addition to that, poor mental health can lead to bad decisions, often due to symptoms triggered. These decisions may include self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, as many people take out their emotions on substances. This can eventually develop into addiction, starting a toxic cycle between addiction and mental disorders.
There are many measures that can be taken in order to avoid said issues. Taking care of your mental health should primarily be about your health in general.
1. Therapy, Counseling, And/or Psychotherapy
There is no better way to take care of your mental health than to go to therapy in an individual setting. Unlike what many may think, therapy should not be sought only once symptoms of mental disorders start. In fact, through therapy, professionals can diagnose mental illnesses in the early stages, addressing it before it becomes acute.
Likewise, counseling can be important both for one’s mental health as well as their life plans. It is an effective way to work on mental health while working towards goals and objectives. A licensed professional can give patients advice as they progress and help them adapt their life strategies if needed.
For some, psychotherapy might be the best go-to options. While it is not needed, it can be beneficial for those with serious mental illness symptoms. In psychotherapy, patients go to therapy sessions and are prescribed medications when needed. It is completely safe as long as the doctor’s instructions regarding consumption are followed.
2. Disconnect For A While
Stepping away from the computer or putting your phone away can improve your mental health. In a fast-paced, connected world, we tend to not realize how technology and social media can overwhelm us. We are constantly stimulated and bombarded with information that can affect our views, our anxieties, and our insecurities.
This does not mean throwing your phone away or deleting all your social media profiles. Nowadays, a lot of people need to connect to work and to keep in contact with loved ones. Disconnecting means taking some time off in a way that won’t affect your routine negatively. That could mean taking a day off once a week or maybe cutting down your daily time spent online.
You can also do small things that will make a big difference in the long run – turn off notifications, turn on “do not disturb,” and/or turn on night shift for your screen. Anything that you can do will help you become less stimulated, and consequently, less stressed and anxious.
3. Work On Improving Your Eating And Sleeping Habits
Your entire body is directly affected by your sleeping cycle and your eating habits. They are both important to nourish and replenish the body of the energy needed for all daily, routine activities. Without that, the body’s immune system will be compromised. This can also cause much harm to the nervous system, making it difficult for it to function properly.
Our bodies need a certain amount of daylight hours to function properly and to trigger certain processes. As we sleep, our nervous system goes through processes related to memory, cognitive function, concentration, coordination, and more. Additionally, erratic sleep cycles can trigger mood swings, irritability, and even mood-related issues on those with mental disorders. It is recommended that people get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every day.
As for eating habits, we as human beings need a healthy intake of every food group available. Not eating properly might result in insufficient nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other substances needed to trigger certain processes. Dieting is not just about weight; it is about general health and longevity.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is defined as being aware of one’s self and surroundings, not being overwhelmed by thoughts and events happening. It is meant to help a person be present and not obsess or focus on what can make some anxious. That includes worrying about the future, dwelling too much on past events, and anything that is not the present.
This can be done through a number of activities and daily actions. Meditating and breathing exercises are a popular, easy option that can be done in many ways. Anyone can pick the exercise or technique they are most comfortable with.
5. Rethink Your Social Habits And Circles
The people we surround ourselves with can be influences in how we perceive and experience the world. Unfortunately, as we start to change our habits and lifestyles, some people might not fit in our lives anymore. If you want to have a more positive outlook, you need to be with people who support that and who understand it. They don’t have to have the same habits as you, but they need to respect it.
You can try to attend and participate in group meetings and activities you like to meet new people. Besides that, support groups are also a great opportunity to meet people going through the same things as you.
6. Volunteer For Something You Love
Volunteering has multiple pros, both for yourself and your community. It is a way to help bring positive change while also getting to know like-minded people. Helping others while connecting with others can improve self-esteem, social skills, and general mood. Having ties in your community is a way to feel like you truly belong, and like you have a purpose.
Some people offer services they are familiar with and are already good at. But you could try to do something new, and take the opportunity to learn a new skill!
7. Keep A Journal Or A Mood Journal
Journaling is a tool for people to better understand themselves and to vent about their feelings. By writing down your thoughts and emotions, you can better acknowledge, validate, and process them. It is proven to help reduce anxiety, and to aid in finding solutions to issues. Reading back is also a reflective exercise to see just how much you’ve accomplished and you’re capable of.
A lot of people like to specifically have a mood journal. Mood journals are not so much about tasks, but rather, about emotional processes. In it, the person writes down:
- Their emotions
- What caused them
- How they reacted
- Whether the reaction was appropriate
- If the situation is just distress or an actual problem that needs to be solved
People can track these topics in different ways, even giving a rating regarding the level of the emotion. The goal is to pinpoint negative reactions and change them.
8. Invest On A Hobby Or Non-Work Related Skills
Getting a hobby is meant to occupy the mind with something that brings joy. No matter which hobby you pick, it relieves stress while releasing endorphins, responsible for feelings of pleasure and happiness. This minimizes the effects of stress and anxiety, improving general mental health in small doses.
They are meant to be an outlet so as to distract a person from daily worries, or even a way to externalize emotions. Hobbies also can improve one’s feelings of self-worth and self-image. They give the person a sense of control and of being capable of being productive in different ways than just working.
9. Adopt A Pet
Getting a new friend that you can love and can love you in return has proven to boost mental health. The reason for that is because that friendship can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels, reducing levels of stress. Caring for a pet is a way to help people emotionally and work on empathy skills. Many people also adopt pets for emotional support, which is an efficient measure backed by research.
Pets help people feel less lonely, less isolated, which in turn, lowers one’s chances of feeling depressed. They are not a cure for depression, but they can make episodes of sadness be less common. Studies have also proven that pet wonders were 31% less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases.
10. Find A Balance Between Work And Personal Life
All of the items listed are only possible and depend on one thing: proper balance between working and living your personal life. One of the main reasons behind mental health issues is neglect for it. About 77% of workers in the U.S. have reported experiencing some level of burnout. This is often a result of a lack of healthy boundaries in the workplace and regarding time off work.
Try to avoid bringing work home, disconnecting from work once you leave, and having quality free time for yourself. And this applies to short-term and long-term plans. Taking vacation breaks through the years is very important to not feel burnt out.
Get Help For Mental Health and More At Footprints To Recovery
The mind needs to be taken care of just like any other part of the body. It guides our decisions and affects all areas of our general health. For people with mental disorders or addiction issues, mental health is even more important.
If you or a loved one would like to know more about mental health and substance abuse treatment, contact us today. Our team will provide you any information you might need and answer all of your questions.