Over the course of a day, adults juggle a wide range of demands, ranging from small tasks to big responsibilities. In order to meet all of these demands, we tend to put our mental health on the back burner. This is a common pattern that plays a role in one in four Americans being diagnosed with a mental health disorder—the highest rate in the world. The good news is, with conscious effort, reducing your risk of mental health issues is achievable with some daily lifestyle practices. The key to staying mentally healthy and strong is making the following wellness practices a priority in your life.
1. Identify your warning signs
When people are stressed or anxious, they can experience a number of symptoms such as trembling hands, racing thoughts, nausea, and chest tightness. Knowing your unique warning signs (or symptoms of stress) can help you recognize when you need to take a step back from the situation and care for yourself.
2. Get enough sleep and rest
Sleep can be the first thing we trade in when we’re busy or stressed. While a short night’s sleep here and there likely won’t have major consequences, a consistent lack of sleep can impair your ability to think rationally and regulate emotions, amplifying mental health issues. Research suggests that a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while a chronic lack of sleep can set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability. Strive to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. It’s also important to make time for rest during your days. Don’t work through meals or late into the night. Be conscious of taking breaks, whether that looks like going for a walk, watching a TV show, meditating, or taking a 20-minute nap.
3. Make time to do the things you enjoy
Balance in life is very important. When we work too much and neglect doing things we enjoy, our mental well-being can suffer. Even if you have to schedule in time for enjoyable activities, be sure you do something enjoyable every day, even if it’s something small. This can make a big difference in the way you think and feel.
4. Take care of your body
Your mental and physical health are connected and act as a two-way street. Due to this, taking care of your body can play an important role in supporting your mental health. Prioritize regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and reducing or eliminating your alcohol intake.
5. Nurture relationships and connect with others
Studies show that loneliness can significantly affect our mental health. As such, try to regularly engage with your friends, family, community, and/or co-workers. Feeling connected to others can go a long way in helping you stay mentally well.
6. Learn to manage stress
More than six in ten Americans report that stress significantly impacts their mental health. If you feel the effects of stress creeping up on you, experiment with different techniques to manage it. You could try meditating, exercising, taking a bath, journaling, taking a walk, or talking to a supportive person.
7. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support
Mental health is just as important as physical health and should be treated as such. Don’t feel too proud or embarrassed to reach out to a therapist or another mental health professional. They are trained to help you find balance and prevent or address mental health concerns. Truly, anyone can benefit from talking to a therapist—not just those going through a hard time. The bottom line
There is an unfortunate, long-standing stigma that caring for your mental health is a sign of weakness, but this is certainly not true. In fact, prioritizing your mental health is crucial for your overall well-being, health, and happiness. Try to take a proactive approach by applying the above tips before you feel completely overwhelmed. Over time, these practices can make a huge difference in your mental well-being.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of mental healthcare, wellness and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is not a substitute for a relationship with a licensed mental health practitioner. Always seek the advice of your therapist, physician or other licensed mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional mental health advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.