In the busy and restless day and age in which we live, it’s more important than ever to pay a little extra attention to our mental health. When burnout, exhaustion and pressure creep their ways into our daily lives at work, home or school, we need to be equipped with the right self-care tools to help us improve our mental health and negate the effects of our busy lives.
Ways to improve your mental health
Meeting with a counselor can definitely help you improve your mental health, but even a counselor will recommend homework, that is, little ways to focus on boosting your mental health throughout your daily routine.
1. Get daily exercise
It’s recommended that everyone gets at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. For some people, going to the gym and lifting weights or pounding the treadmill is the best way for them to move. For others, it’s a more relaxing workout, like yoga or pilates, that they want. And still others prefer to simply walk around the block a couple times.
There’s no right or wrong way to exercise, so long as you pick a form that you find beneficial and rejuvenating.
2. Download a meditation app
The internet is full of meditation apps, like Calm and Headspace, which teach and guide you through the art of meditation. You can select how long you wish to meditate, find specific ones that help promote sleep and relaxation or simply use them as a way to encourage a restful state of mind whether you’re actively meditating or not.
3. Limit your screen time
Not only can staring at a screen have adverse health effects, the lifestyle of being constantly online, and available, can have negative effects on your mental health as well. One study even found that increased screen time has led to an increased risk of depression. Therefore, it’s important to take time throughout the week disconnected from screens to help balance your mental health.
4. Do something you’re good at
It can be discouraging to feel like you’re constantly performing poorly. Maybe you have an overwhelming workload, difficult classes or are challenged by your toddler’s three-year-old stage. Taking the time to step away and focus on something you’re good at—cooking, gardening, painting, playing music, etc.—is crucial for boosting positivity when you’re tempted to be hard on yourself.
5. Start taking steps
If you feel discouraged or overwhelmed by a lack of meeting your goals, start small and start. No one will get anywhere if they don’t begin. To help you reach your goals, start by taking small, achievable steps. Before you know it, those small steps will amount to the accomplishment of a big goal, perhaps without you even realizing it.
It might sound juvenile, but adult coloring pages can help reduce anxiety and slow restless, anxious thoughts. Plus, it’s a creative use of the brain, which also helps boost one’s mental health. You can find these coloring books in bookstores, online or individual pages on various internet sites.
7. Plan ahead
For those who feel overwhelmed throughout the week, do what you can on the weekends to plan ahead. Maybe you meal prep so all you have to do in the morning is grab your food before leaving for work. Perhaps you lay out your outfits for the week so you save a little time getting ready before class. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it helps you feel prepared and less stressed.
8. Spend time outside
It’s easy to stay cooped up inside even on the sunniest of days simply out of habit. But this habit should be broken and, for the sake of your mental health, you should get outside for extended periods of time when you can.
Relax in portable hammocks
Plan a picnic
Work from home on the patio
The benefits of vitamin D will serve you well and help to refresh the mind, body and spirit.
9. Work on perspective
If negative things happen in your life, take active steps to be intentional about your perspective of the thing. In other words, find a silver lining. A gratitude journal can help with this, where you intentionally write down the things that happened today which you are grateful for. Doing this even on a difficult day can help improve your outlook and your overall mental health.
Our lifestyle choices directly impact our quality of mental health, meaning it’s more important than ever to spend time doing things which benefit your mental health. No matter what you choose to do—hiking, reading, painting or prepping—you will notice a positive change in your life.