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BUILDING BETTER MENTAL HEALTH

by Out and About Mag.

Why is everyone talking about mental health lately? If you browse the Internet today, there are more resources about this hot topic today than there were maybe 5 years ago.

Mental health is a big issue that needs addressing — whether at home, at the workplace, in school — literally everywhere. With good mental health, there is virtually nothing that could bring us down, no matter what the world has to offer because we’re ready to face and conquer challenges day after day.

WHY IS MENTAL HEALTH SO IMPORTANT?

  • Maintaining good mental health (and well- being) influences how we behave and think, while also affecting our ability to overcome challenges and cope with stress.
  • By being mentally resilient, we build better relationships and recover faster from hardships and setbacks.
  • And with a great mental state, we’re able to feel more positive and full of energy, thus improving our ability to handle emotions. 
Our mental health is also super important for brain functioning. And having a healthy brain is the pinnacle of maintaining a proper psychological state – how you manage or deal with stress and difficulty and how you feel about yourself (your confidence and self-esteem).

So by being mentally healthy, you’ll have....

  • A balance of play, work, activity and rest
  • Deep and enriching contentment
  • Strong relationship skills
  • Greater adaptability to change and an urge to learn new things
  • A zest for living
  • A better sense of purpose and meaning in life
  • The ability to have fun and laugh
  • Strength to bounce back from adversity and handle stress
  • High self-esteem along with self-confidence

Having read all those reasons to maintain good mental health, you might now be thinking about how to go about developing it.
Is there a quick solution? No. But long-term thinking processes and a few daily routines can greatly propel you in the path of good mental health. Here are some of the top things you can do to improve your mental health:

  1. IMPROVE YOUR DIET

Food not only affects your waistline, but also how you feel and think. If you’ve not changed your diet, you might not be aware of how the food you’re eating is influencing your mood and brain and thus, sapping your energy. Bad food habits can also weaken your immune system and disrupt your sleep.
By switching to a healthy and wholesome diet composed of healthy fats and low sugar, you can improve your mood and sleep, have more energy and also look and feel your best.

FOODS TO AVOID INCLUDE:
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugary foods
  • Fried food
  • Refined carbs
  • Foods with high levels of hormones and 
preservatives
  • Trans fat (found in foods made with 
partially hydrogenated oil)
INSTEAD, HAVE THE FOLLOWING ALTERNATIVES:

  • Peanuts, almonds, cashews and other nuts
  • Omega-3 rich fish like herring, salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel and tuna
  • Flaxseeds
  • Beans
  • Blueberries and fresh fruits
  • Kale, spinach and other leafy greens
  • Avocados
2) GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

Cutting back on sleep might be the go-to option if you’re leading a busy life, but it’s very counter- productive. Sleep matters more to your mental health than you think it does. Skipping a few hours of sleep can affect your energy, mood and the ability to cope with stress. It can also affect mental sharpness.

What’s worse, chronic and long-term sleep loss can negatively influence your outlook and general health. However, for many of us, it may be hard to fall asleep in the blink of the eye. If you are one of those people, who take time to fall asleep, do this: set aside an hour or two to take a break from screens, work and arguments, amongst other mental stimulations, before bedtime and aim for at least seven hours of sleep.

3) MAKE HAVING FACE-TO-FACE AND SOCIAL CONNECTIONS A HABIT

You’ll still need friends and company to function and feel at your best, even if you are low on time and have a great job. Humans are social creatures. We’re not born to live and thrive alone. All of us need positive connections and relationships.

In fact, our brains naturally long for companionship even if some of us have had experiences that led us to being distrustful and shy in the company of others. Find someone who’s a good listener who can lend an ear to your feelings and who won’t judge, interrupt or criticise you. Do not be afraid to reach out. After all, people feel flattered when someone trusts them for his/her thoughts.

4) STAY ACTIVE, GO OUT AND EXERCISE!

Both mental and physical health is linked to exercise. You will automatically feel and think more positively by staying active and physically healthy. Exercise can boost the release of endorphins that can improve your mood and energy. Staying regularly active affects your emotional health as well. It also helps you sleep better while boosting your memory.

But if pounding weights or running isn’t your thing or you simply hate the thought of vigorous exercise, you can add slight physical activities in your life, like walking laps in a mall or at the park during lunchtime.

You can also dance to your favourite music or walk to a meeting or appointment rather than drive to get in some routine moderate-to-light exercise.

5) MANAGE YOUR STRESS

Keep your stress levels in check! We cannot truly avoid stress, but we can work on techniques or strategies to manage it and thereby, restore balance in life.

HOW TO MANAGE STRESS IN LIFE?
TALK IT OUT.

Regular conversations can bust stress by releasing feel-good hormones. Having a conversation with a person that you trust can also calm your nervous system. Aim to have face-to- face social interactions for maximum benefit. Also, being involved in the lives of others and lending your shoulder to them can relieve you of your worries.

Have leisure time hobbies and activities. Another way to feel better every day is to join and engage in activities that invigorate you. Think about your favourite activities — What do you like to do when you have some time off? Do you like to take a walk on the beach or go to a funny movie or maybe read a book?

Having fun from time to time isn’t just an indulgence. It’s a sure shot way to improve mental and emotional health.

SPEND SOME TIME FOR APPRECIATION AND CONTEMPLATION.

Make it a point to often think about the things that make you feel grateful — Enjoy a beautiful sunset, pray and meditate. Say ‘thank you’ for people 
in your life for being there. Even send notes of appreciation to those who run daily errands for you like the office helper or grocery clerk. Take some time off every day to pay attention to the positive and beautiful things that come your way.

MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS.

Learn how to relieve stress by managing and keeping your emotions in check. Learn effective breathing techniques to calm your nerves when you are tensed. Reciting affirmations and diverting thoughts consciously can also help control emotions. If you can’t immediately manage the raging emotions in your mind, take a quick walk and return to the situation after an hour. The time off can greatly help you cool off.

MANAGING STRESS AT THE WORKPLACE

In this decade, work goals are becoming a point of stress for everybody. Aiming to be in the top position is ambitious and can lead to unnecessary stress. Avoid this by setting reasonable goals for yourself. Many companies these days offer counselling and stress management classes or workgroups. The HR department of your company will know about these facilities. Ask them about how you can sign up for them.

Also, make it a point to take a few days off work when stressed, just to recharge your mental energy. Mental health days are gaining importance in today’s work culture where the stress load just keeps on increasing.

On these ‘mental health’ days, do the things that you love intrinsically, like spending time with your parents or a pet, or engaging in a hobby or just pampering yourself at the spa. It’s uber important to keep stress away and do everything in your power to fight its effects in your life.

If you can’t take a day off, when you return to your home from work, whip up some herbal tea or gorge on a delicacy you wouldn’t otherwise allow yourself like a chocolate lava cake.

BUILDING BETTER MENTAL HEALTH — ARE YOU READY TO START TODAY?

If you’re feeling ready to lead a better and more fulfilling life, then now is the time to start building your mental health. The zest for living it will give you the will to change the entire direction of your life itself.

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