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Improving Mental Wellness- 8 Steps for a Healthier Mind

The World Health Organization defines Mental Wellness as 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. Mental wellness is not something that can be perfected, but is a constantly evolving state of mind that is influenced by internal and external actions that can sometimes be out of our control. Here are 8 tips to help you improve your state of mind.

Value Yourself

The first thing you can do to improve your mental health is to value yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and respect. Try not to criticize yourself. It’s OK to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. Take some time to discover what makes you happy. You may want to learn how to play an instrument or start a garden. Try not to participate in things that may cause stress. This is a time to become your number one fan. Celebrate yourself and your daily victories, not matter how big or small they are.

Take Care of Your Body

Taking care of your body is the next way to improve your mental wellness.

  1. Eating nutritious meals
  2. Avoiding cigarettes/vaping.
  3. Drinking plenty of water. (This is something that I am sure each of us could do more of)
  4. Exercising is important! Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week.
  5. Getting enough sleep is the last way that we will discuss in terms of taking care of your body. Lack of sleep contributes to higher levels of depression for all age groups.

Surround yourself with good people

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans to have a “date” night with a best friend, spouse, or family member. Even if this is a virtual meeting or phone call, it is important to keep relationships with the positive people in our lives. Find fun social media groups. There is often a flurry of negativity on social media, but there are fun groups on social media apps like Facebook. I am sure that you can find a group that coincides with an interest of yours.

Give yourself

Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills, all of which can contribute to improved mental wellness.

Learn how to deal with stress

Stress is a part of life, and we need to learn how to cope with it. Here are a few coping skills to try.

  1. Tai-chi/Yoga
  2. Exercise classes
  3. Talk a walk in nature
  4. Play with your pet
  5. Write in a journal

Quiet your mind

Meditation and Mindfulness based stress reduction is a great way to quiet your mind. Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness techniques can also include breathing exercises designed to relax your body and clear your mind. There are plenty of breathing exercises for you to can find on the internet with a basic search. Remember, find the best one for you!

Set SMART Goals

Specific- What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the better the chance you’ll get exactly that.

Measurable- Measurable goals, means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear, and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. Counting your steps, calories consumed, hours active, flights of stairs walked, and time spent in target heart rate zone are example of measurable items.

Attainable- Is your goal attainable? You have to take into consideration all of the internal and external factors that can keep you from hitting your goals. Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds in a month is not attainable. Spreading out those 50 pounds over the course of a couple years is a more attainable goal.

Research-based- In order to set appropriate goals, you need to do your homework. What is the best kind of nutrition or fitness plan for your body type or specific goals that you are trying to meet?  Research based or data driven resources will provide the best information for you.

Timely- When do you plan on reaching your goals? Setting time-based goals, whether they are short-term or long-term, can help develop as sense of urgency and keep you on task.

Get help when you need it

Last but not least, get help when you need it. Seeking help is a sign of strength- not weakness. Attaining the help that is right for you can improve recovery time from mental illness. Support groups, therapy, psychiatrist, or primary care physician are all options that can help steer you towards mental wellness. Your first solution may not be your last solution. If the first avenue of help doesn’t work, try something else. Keep an open mind when seeking help. You may think its unnecessary to visit with a therapist, but in the end you realize that you needed that unbiased source of help. Attaining mental wellness is not an overnight procedure. This is a process. You have to trust the process.

Source: Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare