July 2nd, 2020 12:00am
Caring for your mental health is a vital but often overlooked part of healthcare. It is intricately linked with your physical wellness—poor mental health impacts your choices, relationships, and enjoyment of life. Seeking professional help from a certified psychologist or psychiatrist can be an essential piece of caring for your mental health. Still, there are habits and routines you can develop on your own that will support your mental wellness.
Cultivating awareness during everyday tasks can be a surprisingly powerful tool to remain calm. For instance, if you usually listen to a podcast or music when you are cooking, try experiencing silence. Pay attention to each one of your senses: What does the knife feel like in your hand? The feeling of your sweater on your skin? Do you notice the slightly cooling sensation of incoming air on your nostrils? What do you smell and taste? What do you hear, the sound of vegetables sautéing, and birds outside? What do the ingredients look like? Try softening your vision to see everything in your periphery. By cultivating mindfulness, you allow stillness and space for contemplation, and you can fully appreciate the moment.
Your mind will naturally wander from the present moment; understand that trying to control your thoughts is like trying to stop ocean waves from coming to shore. Acknowledge your thoughts, but do not follow them; let them go, like cars passing by on a freeway, and practice friendliness towards yourself rather than feeling frustrated at your busy mind.
Mindfulness can also help you notice how external factors influence your mental health. When you are still and pay attention to your body, you may observe that excessive social media use makes you feel anxious, or that certain people in your life impact your mental state negatively. Once you are aware, you are in a better position to set healthy boundaries and make better choices.
Mindfulness is a wonderful opportunity to practice gratitude, which can fight depression and anxiety. Journaling three things that you are grateful for each morning is a beautiful way to start the day with positive intentions and renewed vigor.
Exercise lifts your mood, relieves stress, and fights depression; while the science proves this, most of us have experienced this first-hand: you rarely regret a workout! Exercising outdoors is particularly helpful, as being in nature, and getting vitamin D also supports mental wellness. Start with 30 minutes a day and incorporate light activity throughout your day that doesn’t count as formal exercise; this can mean going for a walk on your lunch break, washing the car, or biking to the grocery store. Walking is an underrated form of exercise, and you might be surprised at how energized and uplifted you feel when you make walking part of your daily routine or commute.
Many supplements support mental health. Folic acid, valerian, omega-3 fatty acids, and St. John’s wort are well-known supportive supplements.
There is exciting emerging research about cannabis, and how it can positively impact mental health. Cannabis can fight anxiety and depression due to its effects on serotonin in the brain and CBD, which lacks the components which make you high, has been proven to have calming effects. CBD may even fight psychosis and be helpful for severe diagnoses such as schizophrenia. Applying Lazarus Naturals CBD oil daily may result in improved mental health outcomes.
Research shows that serving your community has a positive impact on mental health. Feeling connected to the world around you and like you are creating a positive impact increases your sense of meaning and purpose. When you are struggling with mental health, it can be challenging to see your significance and impact on the greater world around you. Even small acts of kindness for others can lift your mood and remind you that your life has meaning, and that the world needs the unique gifts you have to offer.
The impact that consistent proper sleep has on your mental health cannot be overstated. It can be challenging going to bed at the same time every night, but if you discipline yourself to wake up at the same time daily, you will find that you become tired and ready for sleep at consistent times, and sleeping earlier happens naturally.
Ensuring that you limit caffeine use to the morning can help with sleep and developing a night-time ritual to wind down before bedtime is also beneficial for healthy sleep. One of the best things you can do is limit screen time; try not to look at any electronics for an hour or two before bed to calm your nervous system. Engage in calming, sensory-related tasks to slowly prepare your body for sleep. Having a night-time bath, skincare routine, lighting a candle, reading a book, deep stretching, journaling, or meditation are all great places to start.
It’s essential to take care of your mental health always, not just when you are in a crisis. Give yourself permission to rest and make your mental health a priority, because a poor mental state can rob you of your enjoyment of life. By developing healthy habits even when you feel good, you will be better equipped when you go through a challenging season of life.