The path to better mental health can be long and arduous. However, breaking it down day by day is an easier way to reach your health goals. Since the mind and the body are intimately linked, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to take care of both your physical and emotional well-being.
Because when you help your body, you also help your mind.
To be clear, the list below isn’t exhaustive, nor is it meant to cover any specific emotional disorder or mental health issue. For more information regarding specific disorders or symptoms, we recommend that you connect with one of our counselors, therapists, or other mental health professionals.
1. Cover your bases
There are surely recommendations for your health that you’ve heard a thousand times before. Some can be cliche—”An apple a day…”—yet they get repeated over and over again because they are truly helpful. Since they’re still valid suggestions, we’re going to get them out of the way upfront so we can move on to some advice that you might not have heard before.
Some common strategies and techniques to maximize your mental health include the following:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting enough sleep every night
It can be difficult to find the motivation to do these things, and if you are struggling with your mental health, then they are even harder. But they can have a momentous effect on one’s mental clarity, mood, and ability to focus.
2. Take your medication as prescribed
Odd as it might seem, people with emotional disorders often stop taking their meds. For anyone who takes prescribed medication to deal with mental health issues, our biggest and most important piece of advice is this: Always take your meds.
For psychotropic medications to work the way they’re supposed to, the body needs consistent, long-term exposure. Disruptions in your treatment plan, like skipping a few days of doses, give your symptoms the chance to return with a vengeance.
Many medications require extended periods of regular use before they take effect. However, if a person stops taking his or her psychotropic medication, then the body can typically deplete the medication in just a couple of days. In other words, when you stop taking your medications for even a few days, it could take weeks of taking them regularly again before the medications reach therapeutic levels in your body. For psychotropic medications to work the way they’re supposed to, the body needs consistent, long-term exposure.
If you are concerned about the side effects of your medications or feel they aren’t working as they should, you should never just stop taking them. Some medications can be quite dangerous to stop taking abruptly, often requiring the individual to taper his or her dosage as a way to wean the body off the medication. In short, you should always consult your physician before making any changes in your medicinal treatment regimen.
3. Celebrate your victories
Small achievements are still achievements. Even if you struggle with aspects of your mental health that others may consider basic, you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not performing at everyone else’s level. Everyone is unique and has his or her own specific struggles, so give yourself credit for persisting through the difficulties.
When you’re feeling down, it can be difficult to remember these wins. One way to give your victories more focus is to write down the things you achieved since you woke up this morning and why you’re proud of them. Ideally, you should do this in a format that lets you return to these wins later so you can remind yourself of your successes, which process(es) you used to get there, and your progress over time.
Given time, practice, and inevitable setbacks, you can make your achievement part of your everyday routine, which, in turn, improves your overall quality of life.
4. Spend some time outside
Science tells us that sunlight can elevate your mood significantly. This doesn’t mean that you have to go outdoors and exercise for hours every single day. In fact, you probably don’t have to do anything more than the things you already do.
If you spend hours indoors scrolling through the internet each day, then you might consider grabbing a deck chair and continuing that activity while sitting in the sun on your porch. You might be surprised at what even a half-hour of sunshine can do for your mental health.
According to data, 42 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, which is linked to depression and other mental health problems. Therefore, if you struggle with mental health, then you could have this deficiency. For those getting sufficient vitamin D in their diets, we know there are links between reduced sunlight and depression. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression associated with a lack of regular sunlight exposure.
This is the easiest one on this list to do because you simply do the same things you’re already doing, but do them outside when the weather permits.
5. Take time to enjoy yourself
When you’re experiencing issues related to your mental health, you may feel as though you have to take advantage of periods of mental wellness by filling that time with productive tasks like chores or finishing big projects for your job. However, you can’t fire on all cylinders at all times, nor can you expect to fight through your struggles to get things done when your brain simply isn’t letting you.
No matter how busy you are, it’s important to have some dedicated “me time” that you take as a part of everyday life. This is time that you set aside on purpose so that you can rest, recharge, and enjoy yourself without feeling guilty and to prevent burnout.
Think of this time as your system maintenance: You have to shut your computer down every couple of days to let the system clear itself out and refresh. It might not do anything while turned off, but having the downtime ensures that nothing gets overworked.
Take these breaks by doing something that you enjoy rather than trying (and potentially failing) to motivate yourself to do work. For example, you might watch that movie you’ve been wanting to see or read that book you’ve had your eye on. Whatever you decide to do, the key is to give yourself something to genuinely look forward to.
6. Put down your phone
We tend to look at our smartphones as our lifelines; they keep us connected with friends and family while also giving us the ability to find information or navigate to an unfamiliar destination at any given time. However, the smartphone being a conduit for so many different tasks and activities means it’s very easy for us to lose large chunks of time while staring at these tiny screens.
Don’t be afraid to take a break from the internet and just exist for a bit. Silence your notifications, read a book, or take a nap. Unless someone’s dying, it can wait for fifteen minutes while you de-stress.
Want to learn more ways to optimize your mental health? Then Silicon Beach Behavioral Health has you covered. Follow us on social media for more tips, techniques, and information.