5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
Stefanie Menjivar, Take Control Staff
What does your daily routine look like? For many of us, mornings are rushed, our calendars are jam-packed, and after a quick meal, exhaustion sets in and we succumb to binge watching television. When your daily schedule is filled to the brim with commitments to others, it is incredibly easy to neglect the most important person in your life. YOU!
Finding ways to take care of yourself when you're busy and overwhelmed is not only necessary, but essential for good mental health. Juggling work, a cramped schedule and your personal relationships, can wear you down pretty quickly making the ever so elusive work-life balance unattainable. In a society that pressures us to burn the candle at both ends, it is important to incorporate a mental health wellness plan to prevent burnout and a whole host of health issues. Self-care routines are clinically proven to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress while improving concentration, energy, and general happiness.
Here are 5 ways to take care of your mental and physical well-being.
1. Get Adequate Sleep
Appropriate amounts of sleep, both in quantity and quality, will help you better handle stressors. Lack of sleep reduces overall quality of life, and individuals with sleep disorders are at higher risk for developing serious health conditions. Start a sleep diary to gain valuable information about yourself and your sleeping patterns. If you are struggling with sleep, contact your primary care provider.
2. Incorporate Movement
Even a small burst of exercise is better than none. Just a 15-minute yoga practice or a quick walk outside in the fresh air will do wonders for your overall physical health and mood. Both are highly effective, but often underused treatments for mild to moderate depression. In addition, exercising outdoors can help boost your levels of vitamin D and in turn help regulate your mood. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week and 2 days of muscle strengthening, but remember, any movement is better than none. If you are just getting started with an exercise routine be sure to start slowly with a few minutes a day and work up as you able. Consider this low impact cardio workout.
3. Slow Down
A Go-Go-Go attitude is not only exhausting, but has gotten in the way of our ability to be mindful and present. Schedule breaks into your day to slow down your mind. The payoff: lower blood pressure, reduced chronic pain and stress, and possible reduction or alleviation of gastrointestinal difficulties. Methods to increase mindfulness include: meditation, breathing exercises, or screen-free weekends (or 10-15 minute screen breaks at work/school).
You may consider other therapeutic options such as massage. The therapeutic benefits of massage are cumulative, and the greatest benefits are experienced over time. The more often you receive therapeutic massage, the more quickly and deeply you will relax as patterns of tension and stress in your body are released. Discuss a treatment plan including frequency of massage with your massage therapist.
4. Nourish Yourself
Make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding processed foods that are more likely worsen anxiety and depression. A diet full of vegetables, fruit, and whole fiber-rich grains can make all the difference. Using junk food, drugs (including nicotine) or alcohol to cope, is a short-term fix for a larger problem. There is no shame in seeking out help if you find yourself in a situation that feels too big to handle on your own. For a life-threatening situation, call 911. If you are struggling or in crisis, a new, easy-to-remember 3-digit phone number — 988 — is now available. This nationwide service helps connect people in crisis with suicide prevention and mental health counselors.
5. Find Support
When the going gets tough, don’t go it alone. You can find a local therapist who can provide the individualized support and counseling needed for whatever you are facing. It can be a scary decision to seek out professional help but you’re not alone. Over 35% of people experience mental distress in their lifetime, and most do not know how to find the information and needed to feel better. Therapy in a Nutshell is a great, free online resource that provides exercises, techniques, skills and resources you can use to improve your mental health.
Finally, Take Control understands that improving your life can feel like an uphill battle. When your stressors are in-part due to health conditions, it can feel daunting to seek out the most up-to-date information. Our customized health coaching experience provides clients the personalized guidance needed to make lasting change. Our Registered Dietitians and Health and Exercise Coaches help you address stress, weight loss, manage cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, and we even support new moms. It is never too late to work on your health, and we are here for you along the way! Let’s talk about how Take Control can help you be on your way to better mental and physical health.