In an interview about how to de-stigmatize mental health, Psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig quoted a statistic stating, “Mental health disorders are relatively common in the United States and, according to some statistics, 25% of the population will probably suffer from one or more of these disorders at any given time.”
How can we be proactive about keeping our mental health…well…healthy? You are either struggling with your mental health right now or know somebody who is. It’s a tough thing to face and also a tough thing to watch someone go through. But it is not uncommon — not by any stretch of the imagination.
Let’s review some good mental health practices. These practices won’t make you immune to facing mental health challenges, but being proactive never hurt anyone.
1. Get enough sleep.
This one takes discipline. Turn off the Netflix and charge your phone across the room where you can’t check it as often. Quality sleep is key to quality living. Charge your mental and physical batteries.
2. Pay attention to your feelings.
“Feelings” is not a word we pay a great deal of attention to in our culture. Maybe we should start.
3. Spend time in nature.
If you work in an office all day and then go straight home, you’re missing where you were made to spend time. Being outdoors revives the soul in ways that cannot be understood. You don’t have to climb a mountain or ride a wave, just go for a walk around your neighborhood. Assess how you feel after versus before. This goes hand-in-hand with paying attention to your feelings.
4. Spend less time in front of electronics.
Many of us spend our days in front of screens, and there is not a lot we can do about that. So when you go home, don’t.
5. Spend some time alone.
This sounds like torture to some people and like paradise to others. Whichever camp you fall into, alone time is good. It’s not healthy to rely on others to fill your cup or to entertain you. On the flip side, spending too much time alone can have poor outcomes. Find a good balance. And remember that only you know what a good balance feels like for yourself.
6. Say “no.”
Just try it. See what happens.
7. Practice deep and calm breathing.
You are probably noticing how you are breathing right now. Is it shallow and quick? Take a few deep and slow breaths 3..2..1…..
8. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake.
Not my ideal thing to limit, but I think the long-term payouts are worth it. I need coffee during the work week, but I try to limit it to a cup a day. Alcohol is easier to say no to (for me). If you are going out with friends, just order a soda. If alcohol is difficult for you to turn down, you could start by limiting how many drinks you allow yourself a week.
9. Practice forgiving yourself.
You are likely to make a mistake in the foreseen future. So am I. Mistakes are a normal part of life. You are not perfect. So holding yourself to a standard of perfection is unrealistic. Whether you mess up royally or something minor, self-love and forgiveness is a practice. If you are naturally critical of yourself, it might take a few rounds of messing up before you arrive at forgiving yourself without having to self-deprecate first.
10. Listen to your instincts.
It’s funny how much we already know that we don’t know we already know. Your gut will tell you a lot before your mind figures something out. We are wired with certain instincts, so do yourself a favor and listen to them.
The best way to avoid worsening issues that may already be there is to be proactive!
Tell us in the comments: which tips do you plan to implement to take care of YOUR mental health?
Savannah Lawson is a Tennessee dweller who enjoys writing about lifestyle and advocating for mental health. She enjoys running, brewing tea, and reading the classics.