Many of us regularly keep our physical health in check by watching what we eat, getting exercise, and visiting doctors for routine examinations. But how many people make an effort to care about their mental health?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and one in five U.S. adults will experience a mental illness in a given year.
Fortunately, there’s a lot that we can do to boost our emotional well being. Here are five actionable ways to show some love to your mental health every day.
1. Express Gratitude
The next time you’re feeling bummed out by what you feel is missing from your life, practice giving thanks to what you already have. At least one study that followed a group that regularly expressed gratitude found that the participants felt more optimistic about their lives and started exercising more. Gratitude creates more positive emotions and changes our way of thinking from lack to abundance.
It’s easy to start feeling grateful. You can write down five things you’re grateful for every day and reflect on them for a moment. They don’t have to be “huge” things—if you can walk, see, hear, and have clean running water and a place to live then your list is already complete. An attitude of gratitude changes the way you see the world.
2. Get Moving
Those feel-good endorphins are not a fabrication; a 2017 study discovered that one hour of exercise per week is enough physical activity to ward off future depression. Physical activity increases circulation and diffuses stress, which helps us feel better. And exercising with other people—including playing in a team sport—may enhance exercise’s effect as you’re socializing with others and working towards a goal together.
Something as simple as taking a quick walk around the neighborhood or jumping rope during a commercial break can contribute towards daily exercise.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Insomnia and compromised mental health can feed one another, creating a harmful cycle that is hard to break. While depression and anxiety can lead to sleep deprivation, as many as 50% of people with insomnia have a mental health disorder. It can be difficult at times to determine which came first, but it’s clear that there’s a link between not sleeping well and an increased risk of having an anxiety disorder or depression.
Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night also slows down our cognitive ability and reaction time, causes our appetite-regulating hormones to go out of whack (which makes us consume more calories), and leaves us with no energy to exercise or enjoy what we love to do. Establish a bedtime routine to help you fall asleep faster.
4. Take a Break
Everyone needs a breather on busy days, whether at the office or running errands, particularly when things get stressful. If necessary, go sit in your car or find another private space and focus on your breathing for five minutes. Mindfulness meditation can be effective at reducing depression and anxiety.
5. Create Art
They call is art therapy for a reason—at least two studies show that creating art improves mood, reduces depression and anxiety, and can even help people tolerate pain better. Whether you’re into painting or making jewelry, getting creative takes the mind off your troubles and focused on something positive. Plus it’s an amazing confidence booster when you make something with your own hands and a great way to spend your time versus going on social media, which may be harming your mental health.
Take Control of Your Mental Health
Knowledge is power when managing your mental health. By following the five tips above, you can feel more centered and positive on a daily basis. Here at Blunt Therapy we bring you content and resources focused on improving your well being and relationships. Check out the latest mental health posts on our blog for more tips on feeling your best.