How to Improve Your Physical Mental and Social Health | Ways to Improve Mental Health | Peach Atl
7 Best Things You Can Do for Your Mental Health – What’s Good For Your Mental Health? Mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” The majority of Americans are not in an optimal state of mental health, which includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In honor of Mental Health Month in May, we are going to focus on achieving optimal mental health– not just through the absence of illness, but through true growth and fulfillment. Do What You Love This will have different definitions. Some people love their job and find happiness at work. If your job makes you miserable, consider leaving it and following your passions. If that’s not possible, find happiness in other areas of your life. For example, if you love art, but haven’t drawn in years, sign up for an art class, or even just get a sketchbook and schedule a couple of hours a week to draw your favorite subject matter. Be sure that you have things in your life that you enjoy doing, that help recharge and fulfill you. previous arrownext arrow Accept Yourself This is extremely hard for many of us. We constantly compare ourselves to others, or how we used to be, or how we think we should be… You don’t need to toss out healthy goals for yourself, but definitely toss out the impossible ones! Have you ever benefited from beating yourself up about not being “enough”? Probably not. Being the harshest critic of yourself isn’t going to magically improve who you are as a person. However, loving yourself probably will. Start a list of things you like about yourself, and add a new one every day. Treat yourself the way you treat other people you love. Think about the things you say to yourself– would you say them to your best friend? Your child? If not, don’t say it to yourself. Do your best to accept and love yourself the way you are right now. Personal Growth While #2 requires letting go of things you can’t control, personal growth is all about channeling constructive energy into the things you can. When you set goals, don’t expect yourself to achieve them perfectly right from the start. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T. That is, specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and timely. Instead of expecting yourself to suddenly start working out for an hour every day and lose 30 pounds in a week, try something that you could actually achieve. Also, remember to find balance in your goals. This is Mental Health Month, so try some goals that revolve around your mind, emotions, or spirit. For example, you could start attending a spiritual service or keeping a journal. Set a measurable goal for how many times you will do that activity each week or month, and hold yourself accountable to it. Choose Happiness Being happy is not something that suddenly occurs when you get that raise, lose those 20 pounds, or meet the right partner. Happiness is a state of mind that can be achieved completely separately from how much you have. Make an active effort to enjoy life. All of the actions on this list will help you be happier, but you can feel great even when you’re not involved in those activities. Next time you start to go into a negative thought spiral, immediately interrupt and challenge it. One great way to do this is with gratitude. As you go down the familiar (and boring!) path of being angry, sad, or discontent with a situation, stop yourself and think of what you are grateful for. While sitting in traffic, angry that you’re late to dinner, stop, and remember that you are grateful to have transportation, access to fresh food, friends or family with whom you can enjoy that meal or even a great sunset over an Atlanta highway! Change the radio to a song you love, and be happy that sitting traffic is creating time for you to sing along to it. Finding joy in seemingly insignificant moments will improve your entire life. Make Fulfilling Social Connections Social connections are tightly linked to health. It can even affect our physical health– one study showed that a lack of social connection is more detrimental to health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Luckily, it is not how many friends you have, but how you perceive your connections. Go for quality, not quantity. Do you feel like you lack close social ties? Make an effort to reconnect with old friends or family members via phone, e-mail, or a handwritten letter. Meet new people through a hobby, volunteering, your place of worship, or Meetup.com. The internet can be both isolating and connecting. If you feel like you spend too much time on the computer and not enough face-to-face, make plans to meet up with someone for a meal, walk, or event. If you don’t mind lots of screen time but feel lonely, join a forum or group of like-minded people, and reach out to new potential friends online. Do whatever suits you to find people you connect with. Be Okay with Saying No and Asking for Help This one can improve your mental health by reducing your stress load. You do not need to say yes every time someone asks you to do something. In fact, you probably can’t even do a good job of assisting if you aren’t taking care of your needs first! Say yes only when you want to and have time to follow through on that commitment. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it! That can be anything from asking a friend to listen to you vent about your day, to ask for a hug, to ask your family to help out with chores more often. Recognize your own needs and when they are not being met. Asking for help includes more serious mental health issues too. If you are especially struggling or have a mental illness, find a professional psychologist. Take Care of Your Physical Health Different aspects of health don’t operate in isolation– you are a whole person with many sides. Each of the sides affects the others. One of the best ways to care for your mental health is to take care of your physical body. Fuel it with a variety of nutrient-dense foods, move on a regular basis, and get plenty of sleep.