Mental health is a blanket term to refer to emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we feel and act and how we react to stress and interact with others. Our mental health affects us at every stage of our life from childhood to adulthood.
Mental illnesses can interfere with proper mental health and certain disorders such as anxiety, depression, or more that can affect thoughts, mood, and behavior. These disorders can get in the way of your day-to-day lives and affect your ability to function properly and can even impact your physical health.
Unfortunately, mental disorders are common, in fact, according to the Medline, more than half of all Americans are diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder at some point in their lives. Luckily, there are treatment options for people dealing with these as well as preventative measures that you can take to avoid them altogether.
There are a number of steps that you can take to help improve your mental health. Some things are simple fixes while others are more complex lifestyle changes. To help with your mental health, follow a few of these steps:
Get Physically Active — As everyone knows, physical activity and exercise offers people obvious physical health benefits. However, there is strong evidence that physical activity leads to increased mental health. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise improves mental health by “reducing anxiety, depresion, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function”. It is recommended that, even 30 minutes of exercise of moderate intensity such as brisk walking just three days a week is sufficient to feel these benefits.
Get Enough Sleep — Getting proper sleep and mental health functioning are closely related. Sleep deprivation can have major effects on psychological and mental health. Unfortunately, sleep problems affects 10 to 18 percent of adults in the United States. By getting better sleep, it can help you deal with things like bipolar and anxiety disorders and depression. By following a few tips like limiting screen time, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, and increasing aerobic activity, you can improve your overall sleep health.
Connect With Others — Problems with mental health can lead many people to avoid social interactions with others. However, it should be noted that connecting with others can improve your overall mood. Meeting with friends and family and staying engaged socially is a great way to help with certain mental disorders such as depression.
Meditate — Meditation can be an overlooked tool that can help to improve mental health and other underlying issues that can improve mental health such as sleep and physical health. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are many types of meditation, but most include a quiet location, a comfortable posture, a focus of attention, and an open attitude. There is evidence that meditation can be helpful for reducing blood pressure and easing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
Avoid Negative Habits — Along with these uplifting and positive strategies, one simple thing that you can do to improve mental health is to cut out habits that may be negatively affecting your mood and health. For instance, cutting out drugs and alcohol can help to improve wellbeing as well as physical and mental health. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol use generally leads to a cycle and addiction, meaning that mental health issues causes people to use substances and these substances cause mental health problems. This is one of the many reasons why alcoholics can’t stop drinking and why drug users continue to use despite problems that they face.
If your problem is severe enough, it is best to seek professional help. If your mental health disorders are leading to thoughts and feelings that can be damaging or even life-threatening, please