By Hannah Aslin, MA Candidate
If you ask anyone outside of the counseling field which is more important: physical health or mental health, more often than not people would say that the key to being healthy is maintaining your physical health. Although there has been progress made in people understanding that mental health plays a key role in our overall well-being, people still tend to lack the ability to make the ever so important link between mind and body (i.e. physical and mental health). I think that it is
important to be informed, and I hope to help whoever is reading this with some helpful mental wellness tips that can and will, change your life.
- Value Yourself: We’ve all heard the saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. People fail to recognize that valuing others and what they bring to your life is great and all but valuing yourself and all that you can do is a complete game-changer. In order to upkeep mental wellness, you must learn to value yourself by treating yourself with kindness and respect. Positive self-talk, anyone?
- Spend time with good people: We as humans are social beings, so who you surround yourself with has a huge impact on your mental health and wellness. Everyone needs support from time to time, so focusing on surrounding yourself with positive influences (specifically friends and family) can make all the difference. When you surround yourself with sunshine, you are bound to feel warm and have a brighter outlook. Good vibes ONLY!
- Find a healthy way to manage stress: There’s no way around it. Everyone gets stressed. I, for one, get stressed more often than I’d like to
admit. How you deal with stress determines your mental wellness. Coping skills, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation, are super easy and allow you to relax your mind. Those are two clinically based approaches, but there are also everyday activities that can act as stress relievers such as going to the gym, going for a walk, writing, painting, spending time with your pet, etc. Find one that works for you and feel the stress evaporate!
- Shut your mind off: I think it is safe to say that everyone experiences times when they have a million and one thoughts running through their heads. These thoughts, whether all positive, all negative, productive, unproductive, or all of the above can lead to stress and anxiety. It is important to take time to actively shut your mind down and allow it to rest. Some techniques that are effective (with practice) in providing relaxation and a sense of clam are mindfulness and meditation. Namaste.
- Mix up your routine: I’m all for schedules and planning out your days down to the minute in order to increase productivity, but sometimes we need to shake it up in order to avoid complete monotony. When we only follow a strict schedule (i.e. take the same route to work, order from the same restaurant every Tuesday, go to the gym at the same time every day) we can fall into the trap of leading a boring life. This can lead to poorer mental wellness, specifically leaning into the depression realm. When you spice things up a bit (try a new restaurant or go for a run instead of going to the gym) it can bring freshness and a little bit of a pick-me-up to your life.
- Increase activity and exercise: When people are physically active and partake in any form of exercise, it not only improves your physical health, it also causes an increase in mental wellness. When we exercise or are active in any way, dopamine is released and increases/improves our mood and has been shown to eliminate lower mood, anxiety and stress as well. Get up and get active to keep that mind right!
- Keep up with good sleep hygiene: Sleep is a sneaky player in the mental wellness game. It is recommended that people get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. I know, I know. We get very busy and sometimes sleep takes the back burner and drops low on the priority list. It is important, however, to try your absolute best to get 8 hours as much as possible because fatigue can set in and negatively impact both your physical and mental wellness. Running on empty can lead to a slippery slope and fatigue is NO JOKE.
- Avoid alcohol in excess: You’ve probably heard it before (maybe repressed it for some reason) but people should avoid drinking in excess and should lean more toward moderation (this is directed toward people of legal drinking age, of course). Drinking too often can cause higher levels of anxiety and depression which can cause a downward spiral in your mental wellness. Don’t take this as me saying you have to completely cut alcohol out of your life but try to consider the negative impacts that alcohol can have on your mental wellness before drinking in excess.
- Perform random acts of kindness: I think people can agree that there is a positive impact that doing things for others has on our mental wellness. When we perform random acts of kindness or just acts of kindness in general, we tend to feel better about ourselves and our self-esteem can spike. Try volunteering somewhere or helping an elderly neighbor around their house. Be kind and good things will follow!
- Don’t be afraid to seek help: If you are really struggling to maintain optimal mental health and wellness, do not consider it a failure reaching out for help. Receiving help in any form, but especially through counseling, represents a great opportunity for growth and betterment, and seeking help shows great courage and strength. Never underestimate the impact of mental wellness on your life. Mental health and wellness matter.
References if you need them: