5 practical strategies for a healthy mind in 2023
A 2020 national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that nearly 1 in 5 American adults live with some form of mental illness. That means that over 52 million American adults deal with mental health issues, ranging in severity from mild to severe. Of course, you don’t need to be managing an illness to address your mental well-being. Your mind needs the same care and attention that you give to your body. Use these 5 easy tips to improve your mental and emotional health and help manage any existing mental health conditions you may be experiencing.
“Wait, I thought this was an article about mental health.”
Taking care of your body is one of the best ways to also care for your mind. Not only does a balanced diet and regular exercise prevent disease and keep you physically fit, but a healthy lifestyle can also improve depression symptoms and reduce stress.
Physical activity, in particular, has been shown to increase the production of endorphins. These neurotransmitters interact with receptors in the brain to regulate mood and reduce perceptions of pain. This can make you feel happier and more balanced. Exercise also improves cardiovascular health, which can lower blood pressure. There is a direct correlation between blood pressure and mental health, so keeping your BPI in a healthy range can ward off feelings of stress and anxiety.
Nutrition also plays a key role in mental wellness. The lack of certain nutrients in your diet – such as B12 – can contribute to symptoms of depression and anxiety.
In addition to the chemical benefits of physical health, taking care of your body can improve self-esteem. The more you practice self-care, the better you will feel about yourself. Improved self-esteem and self-worth can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Finally, you must get enough sleep. If you’ve ever tried to go about your day on a poor night’s sleep or too little sleep, you know that not having enough rest can significantly alter your mood. Give yourself plenty of time to wind down in the evening and keep as regular a sleep schedule as you can to avoid stress and depression symptoms.
Good relationships are crucial to good mental health. Having friends, family members and loved ones in our social circle gives us an emotional support network when we need it. Building social connections has been shown to lower symptoms of depression and anxiety. Not only that, but socialization can actually strengthen your immune system and prevent disease!
Take time out of your day to spend quality time with a family member, or schedule a hang-out with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. You can also join a class, club or volunteer organization to meet new people. These opportunities allow you the opportunity to be physically active and/or help others, both of which improve mental wellness. These gatherings are also a great way to connect with new people in your area.
Maintaining a positive attitude can be hard when you’re going through a tough time, but doing so plays an important part in managing your mental health. Take stock of the good things in your life. It might be helpful to jot these down in writing. These good things can range from the love and support you get from friends and family, or just a great meal you’ve had recently. Challenge yourself to make a list of 3 things that were good on a given day. Writing these down is an exercise in practicing gratitude. You’re acknowledging the positivity in your life and bringing your attention to it.
Practicing gratitude is more than a coping skill; it is a means of rewiring your brain to find the good around you, rather than focusing on the bad. Studies have shown that counting your blessings can lead to appreciably better mental health. Take time to reflect on positive experiences you’ve had to start cultivating a healthier mindset.
For many, a hard time can be an excuse to reach for coping mechanisms that negatively affect your well-being. For some, this may mean a stiff drink after a long day. Others may reach for a cigarette or a pint of ice cream. These coping strategies, while seeming pleasurable in the short term, can damage your mental health over the long run. Coping with ice cream, for example, may conflict with the progress you had been making with a healthy diet. This slipup may come with some guilt or self-recrimination, which is counterproductive to building positive self-esteem. It’s okay to treat yourself, but be careful that your coping mechanisms aren’t excuses to reclaim bad habits.
Develop a list of healthy coping skills you can use when you’re having a hard time. Exercise, deep-breathing, yoga and meditation are all good examples of healthy coping mechanisms.
These relaxing techniques can slow your heart rate down and guide you to a more mindful state. You don’t need to do a full half-hour of meditation to reap the benefits. Even taking just 5 minutes to breathe and recenter your mental state towards mindfulness can help alleviate the effect of stressors.
We’ve already gone into the positive effects of connecting with others. However, we highly recommend getting professional mental health care help to supplement your support network. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It’s the opposite. It’s a signal that you are investing in yourself and your well-being.
With the advent of telehealth platforms like Sesame, getting mental health care has never been easier. Sesame offers in-person and video visits with licensed mental health care specialists around the country. Mental health visits aren’t just for those managing a mental illness. Regular Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps patients develop positive thinking patterns and behaviors while addressing self-defeating habits. You don’t have to manage your mental health on your own. Connect with a mental health care provider on Sesame to get help navigating life’s challenges and get started on a personalized treatment plan.
We all have good days and bad days. Mental health care isn’t just for those managing a mental illness. Self-care and professional help can help everyone develop positive thinking and healthy behavioral patterns. If you’re not sure where to start, connect with a mental health care provider on Sesame to get started on the treatment plan that’s right for you.