Our mental health is more important than we realize. This is why we should strive to keep in a great shape, the same way we do with our bodies when we want to live a healthy lifestyle.

Top 5 ways you can improve your mental health

Mental health problems don't just appear out of thin air. It's not like you tripped one day on your way to work and now you fear potholes. Although traumatic experiences can make you develop a mental illness, some challenges like depression, severe stress and anxiety can develop over a period of time. This means that just like any other health problem you could take preventative measures is you notice that you have a problem. Most people think that to deal with mental health problems you immediately need to search the internet for counseling near me or therapist near me but even though a therapist would help there are other steps you could take to work on your psychological challenges even before they manifest.

Even if you do not actively try to improve your mental health in order to solve a problem the next five tips are good for anyone who wants to stay clearer headed and live a better life. Now in terms of the number of things you could do, there are numerous but for the sake of the mental health of the reader we will compile them into five categories.

Talk about your feelings

For those introverts out there, this might be the highest hurdle. Trust me, I know. Mental health problems are often directly correlated with some sort of social awkwardness. But a lot of the times it can also be chucked down to personality. Whenever I explain to someone the difference between an extrovert and an introvert I find it really easy to point to a popular game that you might have heard of, called The Sims. In that game you get to create your preferred archetype character and set their personality. And when you do that you can choose their social need from 1 to 10. One means that a single conversation with someone per week is enough for that person to feel their social needs while 10 means that this type of individual could have a party everyday with their friends and not get enough social interactions.

Man and woman sitting on a bench in a park talking about their feelings

But this does not mean that introverts don't talk about their feelings. They just do it with a lot fewer people and a lot more rarely. Never mistake your personality for a mental health problem. But now back to the advice itself. You know how people say that it is not healthy to hold it inside. Weather they talk about bathroom necessities or your feelings, both are correct. If you keep your feelings bottled-up for too long they will just agitate you more. You should try to have some social interactions, no matter how little. Small conversations with a friend, or a family member can cover that so you don't need to go out of your way to find someone to talk to. Make sure you keep a social circle no matter how small to which you can turn for help if you even needed.

Mental health and activity

You might not realize it but the simplest thing in your life such as having a regular activity can be helpful towards your mental health. Also, activity here does not necessary mean doing sports or any intense activity. Just doing something consistently and sticking with it would be enough. One of the symptoms of deteriorating mental health is the lack of drive to do anything. This includes activities around your house, chores, going to school or work, going to the gym, going out for a walk or even to see a movie.

You can start doing something that you enjoy but it doesn't necessarily need to be a hobby. You can watch a daily regular show or listen to a radio station between certain hours, as long as it is an activity that you keep doing almost every day, it counts towards keeping a healthy state of mind. In other words, make sure you keep yourself somewhat busy with something so that you don't fall into apathy and numbness. Those are some of the early warnings of possible mental health problems. Careful extreme laziness may not be just a character quirk but a sign of an underlaying mental health condition. In fact many of our atypical behaviors can be sings that there might be a hidden problem behind. The key is to identify what is a part of our personality and what could be something else, something that needs more attention.

Mental health and diet

Another symptom of deterioration mental health is a bad diet, alcohol or other substance abuse and a general neglect of your body. People who were going through depression have been observed to take start taking little to no care of their image. They will wash more rarely both their bodies and their clothes. They will be generally unkept and not care of how they are perceived either at work or by their friends or family. Also, their food choices will become unhealthier and also could increase or decrease radically.

Picture shows healthy diet options as well as different activities you could do in order to live a healthy lifestyle.

Food choices will turn from home cooked to fast food and then to just random snacks that are just eaten with no regard for quantity or quality. When observing the nutrients intake of people suffering from mental health problems it was observed that most lacking were essential vitamins and minerals as well as omega-3 fatty acids. This will cause short- and long-term health problems if the diet is not addressed and changed. So, make sure to take notice of any change in your diet and try to have at least a relatively healthy diet with no abrupt changes. Also while medicine can help with some neurological problems a healthy diet is more recommended as a starting point for either preventing or recovering from mild mental health problems.

When it comes to getting rid of our stress and concerns we have all heard of the phrase "drinking away your problems". As it turns out, substance abuse, especially alcohol, is another symptom of deteriorating mental health. The solace that alcohol or other mind-numbing substance gives to people with mental health challenges is a tricky situation to fix. That's because unlike other types of behavior changes, substance abuse can easily lead to addiction which in turn will create a whole slew of other problems. So, make sure your drink in moderation even if you feel the need to "drown your sorrows". Try talking about your problems instead of using drugs and alcohol to forget about them momentarily. People severely underestimate the benefits of a healthy diet and a bit of social interaction when it comes to dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

Find meaning and a hobby

Often times when people think about how depression acts on individuals they think that they lose their sense of meaning. Life is meaningless and everything that you do is meaningless is a common thought pattern in a lot of people suffering from depression but it is not limited only to them. Sufferers of extreme stress or anxiety disorders often have the feeling that life has given up on them. Finding meaning in anything becomes harder and a state of apathy and numbness ensues.

To counteract apathy and the feeling that life has no meaning it is recommended for people to find a hobby. This can be anything from extreme sports to things as simple as sewing or cooking. It is also important to look for something you are good at. You might enjoy a musical instrument and would love to play it but if you are not good at it might just cause frustration. Of course, having a hobby does not automatically mean that you have found meaning in life, but it does give you something to strive towards. Especially if it's something you enjoy it will fill you with renewed vitality and give you a sense of empowerment every time you achieve something in your hobby that you feel proud of.

Take a break and set realistic goals

A good number of people trying to succeed in life will experience burn out. Going all out in your choses carrier or goal is not necessary a bad thing. In fact, having ambition is the same as having a goal, something to strive for, something that will make you active and wake up in the morning with a clear purpose. But just as activity and setting a goal is important so is taking a break. Imagine doing the regular work that you do like holding your breath. And then the break is like breathing in fresh air. No matter how good you are at holding your breath, if you don't breathe in from time to time you will suffocate.

Picture shows a cup of hot tea with the message: it's ok to take a break"

In terms of mental health, not taking any breaks can cause increase stress and anxiety which can in turn lead to other problems. A key factor to remember in order to be able to take breaks without stressing yourself out over them is to set realistic goals. There is a fine line between being ambitious and being an idealistic dreamer. A realistic goal will also counteract the effects of failing to achieve said goal. With great goals comes great expectations. The higher you climb trying to reach for the stars the harder the fall will be if you fail to reach them. There is nothing wrong in dreaming big but do so in moderation. For example, before reaching the sky, try to get to the top of abuilding first.

All in all, these are couple of things you could do for yourself in order to better take care of your mind and prevent yourself from having mental health problems. Or if you already have some illness you could still try to follow these suggestions in order to ameliorate the symptoms. In the end, please remember that advice is great and all but if you do have a mental health problem the best thing you could do is seek help!

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Julian Sanda
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