1. Reaching Out
Creating relationships and maintaining those relationships help with positive mental health. It allows us primates to feel connected to others, a part of something. Have support when we need it, and allows others to help us grow. Relationships are becoming more difficult in our current world due to technology. Research still shows that the best way to connect and receive benefit from those connections, are in person. This means that we have to make arrangements to meet up with a friend or family member. If this is not possible, we can reach out to an old acquaintance and meet up with them or learn to make new relationships. This also entails being mindful when we are in public and attempting to detach from our devices and engage in eye-contact and nonverbal interactions with the people around us. A smile and positive exchange of words with the cashier, server, etc. Saying hello to people in your daily life and smiling. Finding meet-ups or groups that you are interested in and show up to events with others that have that shared interest. The public library is a good place to look for local events.
2. Staying Active
Exercising on a regular basis is not only good for our bodies but also our mind. Exercise can elevate mood, gives you time to clear your head and focus on a situation. When you focus on a problem while exercising and moving, there is less tendency to dwell on the problem and more tendency to move to a solution. Many physical problems impact our mental health also so exercising and staying healthy is a proactive way of improving and/or maintaining positive mental health. There are so many positive physical and mental health benefits from exercising only 30 minutes a day, everyday. If you feel that this is not something you can or want to do, find an activity that you enjoy. You may even find new relationships if you choose to join a athletic/sports team, cycling group, gym, etc. Another way to increase your activity level is dancing, step counters that offer incentives, walking or cycling to places instead of driving.
3. Managing Stress
Managing stress is a skill that everyone can obtain but not everyone has. It includes learning how to utilize our relationships and supports when we encounter stressor. When something happens in our lives that starts to make us feel frustrated or overwhelmed, we should be reaching out and including others in the problem. Having healthy supports are key in this solution. Healthy supports remind us that this problem can be solved and eventually will have an end point or will give us ways to focus on solutions to at least make it more manageable. Not all problems have solutions but all problems can be solved.
When we are stressed, mindfulness and distress tolerance skills are really beneficial. Finding things that create an opposite emotion in ourselves like listening to upbeat music when feeling down, finding ways to sooth our senses like a nice smelling candle, aromatherapy oils, smell of something reminiscent of a positive time (like the smell of your favorite meal being cooked or a specific perfume), a massage, a warm bubble bath, etc. Scheduling time in your day to relax, have some you-time, do something you enjoy, pray, meditate, focus on being in the present.
4. Healthy Eating
Foods can impact our health and our mood. The most commonly known example is how caffeine can impact our activity levels, sleep and anxiety. There are other foods that can adversely impact our mood and our physical health. An unhealthy diet can impact our energy levels, sleep, and immune system.
**Foods that adversely affect mood
- Trans fats or anything with “partially hydrogenated” oil
- Foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones
- Sugary snacks
- Refined carbs (such as white rice or white flour)
- Fried food
Foods that boost mood
- Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, brussels sprouts
- Fresh fruit such as blueberries
**Mental Health Emergencies: A Guide to Recognizing and Handling Mental Health Crises by Hatherleigh Press August 29, 2017
Sleep is an important fact in our physical and mental health. It is important to not only get the right amount of sleep but also good quality sleep. Sleep not only impacts our energy levels but also our mood, ability to make good decisions, handle stress and regulate our emotions. For those who struggle with getting enough sleep, set a bedtime routine and have a set bedtime. Your routine may include things like breathing exercises or meditation as a relaxation technique before bed. Try to use self talk or images if you find your mind going over something you are concerned about or the events of your day. Use aromatherapy oils like lavender to help your mind and body calm.
If you are still struggling with falling asleep, cutting caffeine out of your diet and reducing sugar intake can help. Physical exercise during the day can help and limiting number of hours you watch television or use devices can also help.
6. Finding Purpose
Having a sense of purpose helps drive us and move us forward. This can also give us an opportunity to help others while is also very esteemable and helps us connect with our inner beauty and strength. There are many ways that can help us find our purpose. Some find it in religious or spiritual connections, working with others, books like Purpose Driven Life and Live A Life You Love. Many people find their purpose helping animals, volunteering their time, or taking an aptitude test showing areas that they excel in.
When to seek professional help
Seeking professional help may be a solution if you have tried these steps but find that they have not produce a desired change for you or if you are unable to gain the improvements that you want in a specific area. Professional help can help you learn how to reach out to others, increase your activity level, improve your sleep, improve your diet, manage your stress levels or find purpose in your life. If you think you could benefit from professional help or know someone that can, we urge you to reach out for help. We are here to listen and support. Please contact us by calling 561.571.2204, through our contact form, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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