If you break your knee, what’s the first thing that you’re going to do? That’s right - you’d go to the hospital. When it comes to our physical health, we immediately get help for problems that may come up along the way and get treatment.
If it’s something that we can treat at home like a cold or flu, we just give ourselves a little bit of kindness, lie back on the couch and allow our bodies to get over the problem.
What about mental health, though? It’s an issue that’s often ignored in our society, often to our detriment. Yet, your mental health is just as important to your wellbeing as your physical health is.
Today, we’re going to be telling you everything you need to know about your mental health. We’re going to dive into some of the benefits of focusing on your mental health, in addition to some ways that you can work on your mental health. With that in mind, here’s everything that you need to know!
Table of contents
- Understanding Good Mental Health
- Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Mental Health
- Why Mental Health Often Gets Neglected
- Methods To Boost your Mental Health
- Should You Seek a Professional?
Understanding Good Mental Health
The phrase ‘mental health’ and others associated with it like self-care and wellbeing are often thrown around a lot. Honestly though, how much do we actually understand about mental health? In addition to that, how much do we know about the benefits that we can get if our mental health is in its best condition?
The important thing to note about your mental health is that it has a huge impact on you as a person. It can influence the way that you think, your feelings and even how you behave on a day to day basis.
If you have good mental health then you are more likely to be able to manage things like stress and anxiety when they come up, and you will be able to manage challenges in your everyday life with much more ease.
You don’t need to have mental health issues to work on your mental health, though it’s always recommended in these circumstances. If you make an effort to work on your mental health, you can actually reduce your risk of having mental health problems to begin with.
If you have good mental health, then it means that you possess a number of characteristics that are a positive influence on your mind.
People that have good mental health tend to be happier overall. They may notice the following in their waking lives:
Sense Of Contentment
It’s hardly surprising to know that a lot of people that take the time to focus on their mental health feel much more content. If your mind is at ease then you are more likely to feel satisfied with life.
You are less likely to sweat the small things and are more likely to take things in your stride. You will usually have an easier time trying to manage stressors when they come up, rather than panicking about them for a long time. All of these things can help you to feel more content overall.
A Zest For Living And The Ability To Have Fun
If you aren’t feeling the best mentally, then it’s only natural that having fun will be the last thing on your mind. You are more likely to find yourself feeling discontent and you may not feel like yourself.
This doesn’t breed the best environment for having fun and enjoying life. If you focus on creating a better sense of mental wellbeing though, you are less likely to feel worried and anxious all the time. This can result in a whole new outlook on life, and you are more likely to take the chance to enjoy life in the moment.
The Ability To Deal With Stress And Adversity
Stress and adversity are things that can crop up a lot in a person’s waking life. It’s only natural that you may struggle with them both sometimes, whether you have a good handle on your mental health or not.
Having good mental health doesn’t mean that bad things that cause you stress and anxiety never happen at all - these things are simply a fact of life.
With that being said though if you do encounter problems in your daily life, you are far more likely to manage them better because you have built up mental resilience that allows you to manage your emotions more easily.
You will have your own ways that will allow you to manage stressors when they arise so you can bounce back more easily, regardless of the situation. It may also mean that you can manage uncertainty much more effectively.
Having A Sense Of Meaning And Purpose
It’s easy to become jaded in life. It’s easy to focus on all of the bad things going on around us and to focus on the negative thoughts that pop up in our heads instead of enjoying the good moments.
If you have good mental health though, you are more likely to be able to see through these thoughts and the bad moments and find a sense of purpose. It’s easier to be positive, and so you can find meaning in life without any trouble, too.
The Flexibility To Learn New Skills
If you’re constantly stuck in your own head and are worrying, that can take up a lot of energy. You may struggle to go out and do things because mentally, you don’t feel like you have the time to do so.
If you focus more on your mental health, it may allow you to feel more free. This may mean that you have more flexibility to try to do more things and learn new skills.
You are less likely to say no to things without even considering them, and instead may be more willing to take these positive opportunities to improve yourself and learn.
Balance Between Work And Play
Mentally healthy people tend to find that they have an easier time managing leisure and practical duties. They may find that they have a clearer mind to make a schedule that allows them to balance work and play, and they will feel less stressed in turn.
Ability To Maintain Fulfilling Relationships
If you have good mental health then you are more likely to feel happy as a whole. If you’re happy, you may be more willing to go out and spend time with loved ones, and you may find it easier to talk to people. You may even find it easier to meet new people if you are mentally healthy.
Self-confidence And High Self-esteem
Want to feel more confident? Spend some time working on your mental health! You can learn a lot about yourself from focusing on some introspection, and this can allow you to feel more confident.
Mentally healthy people are generally a lot more efficient at drowning out the inner critic and focusing on the positive things about themselves and others. This can certainly help with self-esteem and self-confidence!
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Mental Health
So we’ve said some of the reasons why it’s a good idea to pay attention to your mental health. On the reverse side of things, what are some reasons why you shouldn’t ignore your mental health?
To start with, poor mental health doesn’t just affect the way that your mind operates. It can also have a huge effect on your physical well-being too. Your physical and mental health are very closely linked - in fact, having a mental illness can cause a lot of physical symptoms.
Things like heart palpitations and tiredness can often happen when your mental health is in poor condition, to the point that it’s something that a doctor should look for when you go for a check-up.
In addition to this, if you get your mental health checked out earlier, it will be a lot easier to get it treated. Think about it - if you injured your leg, you wouldn’t just get on with it and not get it seen to, especially if it’s in a bad way.
If you did choose to ignore the injury, you could get all sorts of bad knock-on effects as a result. The same goes for your mental health. If you allow it to spiral out of control, you are far more likely to experience even more problems.
It’s a good idea to get your mental health checked out for the sake of your family too. AS it turns out, there’s a genetic component to mental health. By this, we mean that if you have a mental health condition, there’s a chance that your children may have it too.
This links back to the early detection aspect we mentioned earlier - your family members can get help for their mental health before it spirals out of control if they know that they are at risk of having certain problems.
The fact of the matter is that ignoring your mental health can sometimes be fatal, leading not only to physical health problems but in some cases there’s even the risk of suicide. You will feel much happier if you don’t ignore your mental health, though a lot of people are hesitant to get help if they are struggling.
Why Mental Health Often Gets Neglected
Despite how important it is to pay attention to mental health, many people will neglect their mental health. People don’t tend to treat their mental health with the same urgency as their physical health.
The question is why?
There are actually a number of reasons as to why a person may end up neglecting their mental health, and some of them are not obvious.
For starters, mental health issues aren’t always seen to be as important as those relating to physical health. In some societies, people are also judged for the fact that they are struggling with their mental health, or even for the fact that they are making a proactive effort to improve their mental health. Some people are seen as weak or are blamed for having mental health issues.
Thanks to this reason, a lot of people will choose to ignore their mental health and will instead keep all of their emotions and worries inside. They won’t tell anyone about them because they have been taught that they are ‘weak’ for doing so. This is an especially prominent issue with men.
According to statistics, over 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression. In addition to this, 2018 data suggests that men are more than 3.56 times more likely to commit suicide than women in the United States.
This is largely thanks to the stigma surrounding men and mental health, and it often prevents people from getting help. Men are not the only group of people to struggle with this particular issue, but it’s a statistic that’s certainly worth highlighting.
In addition to this, a lot of people don’t want to go to the effort of actively working on their mental health - something that is seen as time-consuming. Since many of us don’t have a lot of time to spare in the current age, we instead turn to fast solutions such as taking medication to alleviate mental health symptoms, or we may turn to social media to give us a short boost in mood.
There’s also a common idea that you won’t get any real treatment if you are struggling with emotional or mental health concerns.
It’s strongly believed by many people that if you struggle with your mental health, you will either be given medication or therapy, and both of these things can have disadvantages in regards to costs and the effects on the body.
This isn’t actually the case, since there are a variety of different treatments out there. This means that if you seek help, you are certain to find a treatment method that will work for you, and it doesn’t have to be medication or therapy.
Methods To Boost Your Mental Health
So you’ve decided it’s time to start working on your mental health. What now? How do you boost your mental health? Luckily for you, there are a lot of things that you can do to boost your mental health, and these things do not require a lot of cash either. Here are some of the methods that you can use to boost your mental health.
Making Social Interactions A Priority
Let’s face it - we all like a little bit of downtime every once in a while. We all like to spend some time by ourselves to catch up on things like hobbies, or to watch our favourite comfort shows. With that being said, constant isolation from people isn’t exactly good for you.
Human beings are social creatures that need to be around each other in order to feel their best.
If you want to feel at your best with regards to your mental health, it’s definitely in your best interests to ensure that you are spending plenty of time around the people that you love. You need to make time to interact with people and to make connections!
There are a number of reasons why social interaction and spending time with people in person is so important. In some cases, a quick message on Facebook or a brief Facetime call simply won’t do!
You need to have time with people that will listen to you without any judgement, people that accept you as you are. It’s also okay to reach out to friends and family if you need to get things off your chest.
Staying connected to your loved ones is easy if you put in the effort. Give a friend or a family member a call to chat for a while - perhaps take the opportunity to ask them to meet up.
It may be that they were simply itching to see you too and were just waiting for you to ask! You can also call people that maybe you aren’t as close to. There’s nothing wrong with taking the chance to get to know someone a little bit better!
In fact, you don’t even have to socialize with people you know if you don’t want to. There are so many opportunities to meet new people, you just have to look for them. You could join a group for your favourite hobby, or take up a new sport.
There will be others like you looking to meet someone new and try something different, so take the opportunity. You could even make friends with the stranger you came across when you walked the dog last week.
Being physically active is one of those things that has many different benefits - it’s especially good for your mental health though. Physical activity releases hormones in your brain known as endorphins that help you to feel happier and more content.
Basically, if you work on getting more physical activity into your life, you are more likely to reap benefits with your mental health too.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits of physical activity though. Sometimes even taking a leisurely walk once a day can be enough.
It will also allow you to spend some time in the fresh air out in nature too, which is also very good for your mental health.
If the gym isn’t something that takes your fancy, think about other things that you may enjoy. Are you usually a fan of dancing or of kickboxing? If so, why not take up a dance class or a kickboxing class?
You may also meet new friends there too, which we have already established is a good thing for your mental health. Even small amounts of physical activity are better than nothing, so you can increase the amount gradually as you go.
If you want to, then it’s even possible to incorporate mindfulness into your exercise. This is especially easy to do with an activity like yoga, which involves hyper-focus on what all of your body parts are doing.
Focus on the ways that your body feels as you are stretching and moving around, and focus on sensations rather than thoughts. It’s great for your mental health!
Learning To Keep Stress Levels In Check
Stress can cause a lot of havoc not just for your mental health but also for your physical health. For that reason, it’s a good idea to do everything you can to focus on improving the ways that you respond to stress.
It’s not possible to completely avoid stress - it’s a fact of life. What you can do is influence the way that you respond to it.
There are a few things that you can do to manage your stress. As mentioned previously, one thing that can help is to talk to people about what you are feeling and going through.
You can also surround yourself with things that make you calm - some people like aromatherapy for instance, or they like to light candles. You could have things around you that you can touch or listen to that calm you down too.
Make sure that you are taking plenty of time for yourself too - it’s pretty stressful to be constantly doing things that don’t relax you. Put some of your favourite music on or take a long bath with some bubble bath in it. Maybe you can watch a movie with a friend.
Take a moment to think about the little things in your life that keep you happy and grounded, and take a little time to do something that is designed for relaxation, such as colouring, mindfulness or yoga.
Deep breathing can also be beneficial for many people, so it’s worth thinking about incorporating it into your daily routine. Things like mindfulness can even be done at your desk at work when things are getting on top of you.
Eat A Brain Healthy Diet
You’ve probably heard it all before, but it’s worth mentioning. Your diet can have a pretty big impact on your general sense of well-being. If you aren’t eating healthy then you may find that you don’t feel as good mentally either, and you may notice things like slipping focus and interrupted sleep.
If you have a diet that’s full of plenty of nutrients and is well balanced though then you may see some benefits to your wellbeing, and you will feel much better in general.
It’s worth playing around with the foods that you try, too - people react differently to certain foods, after all. In general, it can be worth reducing the amount that you eat ‘bad foods’ and drinks though.
Don’t completely deprive yourself of foods if you enjoy them, but try to reduce the amount that you eat. That includes things containing lots of sugar, fried food, alcohol, caffeine and refined carbohydrates.
You can replace these foods with things like avocados, leafy vegetables, fruit, fish that contain high amounts of omega 3, flaxseed and more.
If you look online then you may even be able to find recipes that are similar to your favourite takeaway foods but they are healthier for you. You don’t need to eliminate everything you love from your diet to eat a little healthier!
There are a number of great natural herbs and supplements that all contribute to improving mental health and wellbeing as well. In no particular order, you should consider adding these into your regular diet:
- Medicinal mushrooms such as lion's mane mushroom, chaga, turkey tail, reishi, cordyceps & tremella are great adaptogens for mental wellbeing. You can get the benefits of many in a blend such as Mason's Mushrooms
- Tonic herbs such as ashwagandha which help promote restful sleep
- Greens powders like Athletic Greens or Vital All-In-One to provide adequate micronutrients
- Matcha with L-theanine to help calm and relax the mind
- Vegan protein powders for healthy cell function
- Hemp protein and hemp seeds for potent amounts of omega acids
Do Not Neglect Sleep
We often underestimate the importance of sleep, and just think of it as something that we have to do for survival. In reality though, having high-quality sleep is absolutely essential for physical and mental wellbeing.
Even just cutting a few hours out of your sleep per night can have detrimental effects on your circadian rhythm. This can mess with you physically, playing around with your hormones and making you feel lethargic.
You need to make sure that you are trying to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night. This isn’t always easy, especially if you work shifts that alter from one day to the next, but it’s important that you at least try.
Make an effort to put away the screens in the two hours before sleeping too, since you will find it easier to drift off. These hours can instead be occupied with things like mindfulness, which is especially useful if you are struggling to keep negative thoughts at bay before you sleep.
Some people may struggle to get to sleep at night. If you are still having a hard time getting a good night’s sleep, it may be worth speaking with your doctor. They can give you more advice on proper sleep hygiene so that you can get in all of those Z’s and improve your mental health.
Find A Purpose And A Meaning
We all like to have a reason in life. It’s a good idea to do what you can to find your own. Your purpose and meaning may be a little different from someone else’s, so work out what makes you tick.
Do you like to help others, or do you have a certain goal that you want to work towards? By finding meaning and purpose in your life, you may feel more content as a whole, thus improving your mental health.
So how do you find meaning? Most people start with re-evaluating their careers or their hobbies. It may be worth trying things that make you think outside of the box, or do things that benefit others - volunteering can often be great for this. Perhaps it’s your life’s ambition to learn to play the piano - embrace it and start learning!
Alternatively, your purpose may lie in your relationships. Maybe it’s time to invest more time into your children, your spouse or your grandparents than you used to before. It could even be your pet! Some people find that it’s very rewarding to look after others too, such as family members with ailing health. It can be a challenge but some people do find that it gives them a sense of purpose.
Should You Seek a Professional?
A lot of the advice listed in this article has been things that you can do on your own. Self-care can be very beneficial for mental health, but it’s also important to recognize when you need a little bit more help. If you still feel as though you are struggling with your emotional or mental wellbeing, it’s a good idea to speak to a professional about getting further help. Remember - there’s nothing wrong with getting a little bit of extra help and there’s no shame in it. Millions of people throughout the globe get help from professionals for their mental health every year. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, as it will help you to feel better!
In addition to this, getting help from a professional can help you to put the above practices into action too. They can help you to stay on track with your mental health journey, which can sometimes be challenging to do amongst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Many people seek help from professionals to keep them grounded too - you don’t need to struggle with a mental illness to get help with your mental wellbeing. It’s very beneficial for everyone!
Your mental health is an important element of your overall well being, but it goes without saying that it can sometimes be difficult to keep it in check.
With good mental wellbeing comes an overall sense of happiness and contentment in life that you may not have otherwise, so it’s worth your while to do what you can to make sure that you have good mental health.
Practising self-care or seeing a professional are ways that you can take care of your mental wellbeing. Remember - don’t be afraid to talk to people if you are having a hard time!