Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can affect how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. When we improve our mental health, we are better able to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.
Why is it important to improve your mental health?
Mental health is important because it can help you to:
- Cope with the stresses of life
- Be physically healthy
- Have good relationships
- Make meaningful contributions to your community
- Work productively
- Realize your full potential
It is important to stay positive and try to have a positive outlook. For instance, try to find some balance between your positive and negative emotions. Of course, staying positive does not mean that you do not have negative emotions. These emotions help us respond to problems in a healthy way.
To improve your mental health don’t let negative emotions take over
Don’t allow negative emotions to take over. Therefore, it is not good to keep thinking about bad things that have happened in the past. We shouldn’t fixate on possible bad outcomes for the future, either. This is just one way to improve your mental health.
When you have positive emotions, hold on to them. Use happy memories as an anchor, to help keep your emotions balanced.
Knowing when to stop reading or watching something that conveys negative information is also important. Switch off the news, leave social media groups that have negative posts. Instead, use social media to reach out for support.
Practice being grateful for the positive things in your life – there will be a lot more than you realize. It could help to keep a daily journal of the good things that happened that day. Even the small things can be written down, like “it didn’t rain, so I was able to sit in the garden”
Look after your physical health to improve your mental health
Your physical and mental health are connected. Some ways to take care of your physical health include:
- Be physically active. Exercise reduces feelings of stress and depression and improves mood.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep affects Not getting a good night’s sleep can lead to becoming more easily annoyed and angry. Over the long term, a lack of quality sleep can make a person more susceptible to depression.
- Eat healthily. Proper nutrition will help you feel better physically but it can also improve your mood. Also, not having enough of certain nutrients may contribute to some mental illnesses. There may be a link between low levels of vitamin B12 and depression, for instance.
- Connect with others. We are social animals by nature. This means it is important to have strong, healthy relationships with others. Besides connecting with family and friends, you could find ways to get involved with your community or neighborhood. You could volunteer for a local organization, for example, or join a group that is focused on a hobby you enjoy.
The key here is to stay well-rested and also connected to others.
Try meditation too
Meditation is a mind and body practice where you learn to focus your attention and awareness. There are lots of types, including mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation. Meditation usually involves:
- Choosing a quiet location with as few distractions as possible
- Adopting a specific, comfortable posture. This could be sitting or lying down, for example
- Focussing your attention on something, such as a specially chosen word, an object, or your breathing
- An open attitude, where you try to let distractions come and go naturally without judging them
Relaxation techniques to improve your mental health are practices you do to produce your body’s natural relaxation response. This response slows your breathing, lowers blood pressure, and reduces muscle tension and stress.
Meditation is one relaxation technique, others can involve focussing on relaxing imagery, tensing then relaxing muscles, etc.
It’s also important to recognize when you need to get help. If you don’t know where to start, you can begin by contacting your primary care provider