How to incorporate mental wellness into your daily routine.
Many people mistakenly believe they are immune to mental illness. While some people might be more at risk than others, mental conditions can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, race, or social status. Luckily there are several proactive things you can do to keep your mind healthy:
- Exercise and eat well. Treating your body right can have drastic benefits for your mind. Stress and anxiety are two of the most common mental health conditions, but they can be reduced with regular exercise. Working out releases chemicals in the brain that improve your mood and cognition, too. Both exercise and proper nutrition are also known to curb cravings and can even help with addiction.
- Play games or do puzzles. Contrary to popular belief, playing isn’t just for kids. Games are great for alleviating stress, controlling cravings, and have even been shown to delay the mental signs of aging, among other amazing benefits.
- Enjoy the people you love. Your social networks have a considerable impact on your mental well-being. Surround yourself with friends and family that you care about, people who uplift and motivate you. If you have a hectic schedule and don’t have much time to spend with loved ones, here are some ways you can still visit with them. And don’t worry if you’ve recently moved and don’t have strong personal connections yet—you can always join a club or attend an event where you’ll meet like-minded new friends.
- Prioritize leisure time. Life is full of demands, but if you don’t take a second to relax you’ll burn out. Write a song or a poem, crochet a scarf or code an app. Whatever it is you like to do, be sure to dedicate even ten minutes a day to it. It’ll give your mind a chance to rest and let your creativity flow.
- Set achievable goals. If you have a daunting task to complete, break it down into smaller, more realistic objectives first. This will reduce the stress of thinking about the task in its entirety and prepare you with an approachable game plan.
- Get good sleep. Sleep quality is crucial for optimizing brain function and mood. Cognitive activities like making decisions, focusing on complex tasks, and using judgement are significantly improved by good sleep, so get your rest.
- Tackle stress head-on. What are the things that stress you out? Clearly identifying your sources of stress is the first step in figuring out how to conquer it. For example if doing presentations at work is stressful for you, look for ways you can be more prepared and calm while presenting. Rehearse your presentation, wear comfortable clothing, use cue cards, and so forth until your stress is no longer an issue.
- Get out of your comfort zone. While avoiding stress is usually advisable, it’s also healthy to try things that scare you a little bit. Taking a new route home or booking a one-way flight to another country might freak you out, but experimentation and exploration work wonders for the brain. Exposing yourself to new challenges and situations changes the physical structures in your brain as it forms new neural connections. Conversely, sticking to the same old safe routines prompts your brain to literally trim the fat, breaking down the unused neural connections.
- Don’t take things too seriously. You’re only human, which means you’re bound to make mistakes sometimes. That’s completely okay. It’s also fine to say you’re sorry when you need to, dust yourself off, and move on. Instead of dwelling on the past and allowing regret to eat away at you, see those experiences as nothing more than valuable life lessons.
- Get in tune with your emotions. How you feel emotionally is inextricably linked to your mental health. Experiencing waves of strong emotions like hopelessness, fury, or elation can be a sign of mental illness. It’s important to recognize the causes of these feelings and any associated patterns so that you can learn to deal with them appropriately.
- Ask for help. Keeping the previous point in mind, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help to cope, learn more about your mental health, or seek treatment if necessary. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a loved one or make an appointment to see a mental health care professional, because it could be the decision that saves your life.
Mental health in the workplace
Mental wellness isn’t something you can practice only some of the time; it needs to be built into every aspect of your life to be sustainable. None of these activities are effective without ongoing effort wherever you are, even when you’re at work. If you believe your employer can do more to prioritize mental wellness in your organization tell your human resources team to get in touch with us today.
Also published on Medium.