Mental health: How to improve your mental health
Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Some daily habits can contribute to the maintenance or improvement of one’s mental well-being.
It’s about adopting a positive attitude and engaging in activities that promote mental health. Strengthening personal psychic resources, strengths and what makes us feel good, prepares us to better face the critical periods that may arise during life. Read down below and find out how to improve your mental health.
What is mental health
Mental health is a term used to describe emotional, psychological and social well-being. Mental health is an integral part of health and well-being and, as such, is important at every stage of life, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood. The quality of a person’s mental health is often measured by how well they adjust to everyday stressors. Mental health empowers people to use their skills, be productive, make decisions and play an active role in their communities. Like other aspects of general health and well-being, mental health can be influenced by several factors: individual factors play an important role, but social and environmental circumstances can also improve or worsen mental health.
Mental health disorders
While the terms are often used interchangeably, mental ill health and mental illness are not the same and should not be confused. Mental health actually refers to a person’s state of emotional, psychological and social well-being, whether or not they have a psychiatric condition. Mental disorders are serious, occasional, or long-lasting conditions that can affect thinking, mood, and behavior.
Thus, a person may experience poor levels of mental health and not receive a diagnosis for a mental disorder. Similarly, a person diagnosed with a mental illness — such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression — may experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being, within the limits of painful, distressing, or debilitating symptoms.
Why is Mental Health important?
Mental health is an integral part of health and well – being, determining how we think, feel and act psychologically, emotionally and socially. It is an often overlooked aspect, but it can actually have a profound impact on all areas of our lives: mental health affects the way we manage stress, realize our abilities, relate to others and we make choices, as well as being essential for personal development. Considering the role mental health plays, it is important to protect and improve psychological well-being by using appropriate measures. Also, as different circumstances can impact your mental health, we’ll highlight risk factors and signs that may indicate distress, not to mention all the benefits of having it at its best.
Signs of mental health problems
When mental health is compromised, it is not always apparent to the individual or those around them. However, there are some warning signs to look out for, which can mean negative changes to your well-being. These include:
- Change in eating habits, both excess and deficiency
- Noticeable reduction in energy levels
- Be more solitary and shy away from others
- Having a persistent feeling of hopelessness
- Consuming alcohol, tobacco or other substances more than usual
- Experiencing unexplained confusion, anger, guilt, or worry
- Manifesting severe mood swings
- Getting into conflict with family and friends
- Thinking about harming yourself or causing harm to others
- Not being able to carry out daily activities with ease
How to improve mental health
Practice regular physical activity
Exercise can reduce stress and even improve symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression; reduces levels of stress hormones in the body and elevates levels of endorphins , which promote mood regulation and feelings of well-being. Training doesn’t have to be tiring: just take a walk of at least 20 minutes to notice how movement helps clear and relax your mind.
Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep can worsen mental health and cause mental distress, especially in people with pre-existing mental health conditions. In this regard, it is recommended to get at least seven hours of sleep a night and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule (go to bed and wake up at the same time), limiting distractions such as using the phone before bed.
Develop coping skills
Learning healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress can go a long way towards improving mental health. Some productive coping mechanisms include getting emotional support from loved ones, finding humor in everyday life, and taking action to improve one’s situation. It’s about finding what works best for you.
Stay in touch with others
Social interaction can reduce our stress levels, improve symptoms of depression, and even benefit physical health. Having social interactions in a setting like group therapy, for example, might be especially helpful if you’re dealing with a specific mental health condition like PTSD or an eating disorder .
Keep a positive outlook
There are many health benefits of using optimism and positive thinking in your everyday life. One study found that participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) who practiced replacing thoughts of negative outcomes with positive ones experienced fewer worries over time than participants who did not imagine positive outcomes.
Cultivate creativity and individual skills
The imagination and skills present in each one are often just waiting to be expressed or developed. It’s never too late to try a new activity and discover a new pastime or resume an education.
Creative activities allow you to express positive or negative emotions without using words. This allows you to release tensions or worries.
Learning something new and developing your skills stimulates the mind, strengthens self-esteem and breaks up the daily grind. This can be useful, for example, also on a professional level.
The cantons, municipalities and cities often offer a rich program of cultural, artistic, sporting or adult education offers. Some are free. Several organizations can offer support to people on modest incomes. Do not hesitate to inquire in your region.
Take care of yourself and your body
Taking care of yourself is a very personal thing. The means available are many and each one must turn to those that suit him the most. Physical activity is a useful tool for fighting tension, whether it’s playing a sport or going for a walk to get some fresh air. The important thing is to exercise, get out of the house and change the air.
Activity phases can be followed by rest phases. The moments of rest allow you to “switch off” and therefore to reflect calmly and appreciate the events of the day. While sleep is important, going out alone or with friends can also promote relaxation. A fulfilling sex life or well-lived spirituality can also be beneficial to mental health.
Benefits of good mental health
When psychological well-being is affected, it can cause negative behaviors that can not only affect personal health, but can also compromise relationships with others.
Below are the main benefits of good mental health.
An increased ability to cope with life’s stressors
When mental and emotional states are at their highest, life’s challenges can be easier to overcome. Where alcohol or drugs, isolation, tantrums or fights may have been adopted to manage relationship disputes, financial problems, work challenges and other life issues, a stable state of mind can encourage healthier coping mechanisms.
A positive self-image
Mental health is strongly related to personal feelings about oneself. Overall mental well-being plays a role in self-esteem and, often, a sense of confidence can be a good indicator of a healthy mental state. A person whose mental health is booming is likely to focus on these qualities and will generally manifest ambitions to maintain a healthy and happy life.
If your mental health is good, you may be better able to provide friends and family with quality time, love, and support. When you’re not in emotional distress, it can be easier to introduce yourself and support the people you care about.
Coping with depression or other mental health disorders can impact your productivity levels. When you feel mentally strong, you are more likely to feel able to work more efficiently and deliver higher quality work.
Higher quality of life
When mental wellbeing thrives, your quality of life can improve. This can give way, for example, to new hobbies, the desire to make new acquaintances or to travel to new cities.