The last few years have been tough, to say the least, and 2022 is no different. We’re three months in, and this year has already presented its own unique set of challenges. As we continue to adapt in the face of a global pandemic, warring nations, political and social turmoil, it’s more important than ever to find ways to safeguard your mental health.
Mental wellness refers to your psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Aspects including your relationship with yourself as well as others and your ability to navigate life’s stressors contribute to your mental health. Unfortunately, mental wellness can easily be overlooked or dismissed — and no one is immune to struggling with mental health issues. Fortunately, there are practices you can implement in your day-to-day life to make things a little easier. Making small, mindful changes can drastically improve your state of mind. Practicing self-care, making time for friends and family, and knowing when to ask for help all support higher levels of wellness. Here are five tips to help boost your mood, be more present, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Wellness starts from the inside out. What we put in our bodies dramatically impacts how we feel and function. Healthy eating is all about finding what works for you; no two bodies are the same. Like any other vital organ, your brain needs nutrients to perform well and stay healthy. Do your homework and identify ways to use food as fuel for your mind and your body. Incorporate foods that support brain health into your diet. Foods rich in omega-3s like fish, nuts, fresh fruits, and greens are a great place to start. Remember, you do not have to give up sugar or your favorite foods — just make smart choices. Balance is key when implementing healthy eating habits.
2. Stay Active
It’s no secret that physical activity is one of the most beneficial things you can do. It’s equally as important for your brain as for your body. Regular exercise relieves stress, improves concentration, helps you get more restful sleep, and works wonders for your self-esteem. Research shows that regular exercise has a deeply positive impact on mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Physical activity combats mental illness for several key reasons. It encourages neural growth, releases feel-good chemicals, and initiates new patterns in the brain that promote stress relief and feelings of wellness. Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym — it can be whatever you enjoy doing, such as yoga, taking a walk, or gardening; anything that keeps you moving. Experts recommend being active for roughly thirty minutes a day to feel the mental and physical health benefits.
3. The Power of Song
It’s hard not to enjoy hearing your favorite tunes, but did you know listening to music is actually beneficial for your mental health? Music is a major mood booster. You can get those endorphins flowing by simply pumping up the jams (dance party anyone?!).
The power of music doesn’t stop there. Music can positively affect post-surgery recovery times. Patients have reported experiencing less pain and more speedy recovery when music is included in their treatment plan. Not only does music help your body heal faster, but it also improves cognition as well. Melodic notes can help improve memory recall in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
4. Stay Connected
Human beings require connection to thrive. Relationships are the cornerstones of our lives; we all need a shoulder to lean on from time to time. Keep in close touch with your family and friends; these are the bonds we rely upon when life gets difficult. One of the most effective ways to calm your nerves is to talk to a friendly face.
Successful, lasting relationships must be equal parts give and take, a symbiotic two-way street. Meaningful gestures go a long way towards solidifying the bond between two people. This doesn’t mean sweeping grand gestures in the eleventh hour as you often see in the movies; it’s the everyday kindnesses that show you care. It’s often the small and meaningful gestures that end up meaning the most. Practice active listening. In conversations, listen to understand, not just to respond. Encourage those closest to you to be the best version of themselves. We all need support occasionally, whether it be tough love or a pep talk, and your loved one will never forget the support they received in a moment of need. Bookmark important dates, like birthdays and anniversaries; remembering milestones is a thoughtful way to remind those around you of your affection for them.
5. Talk to Someone
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We’re all human, doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Sometimes life just gets overwhelming. It’s okay to need a little help navigating life’s ebbs and flows. Mental illness is very common, affecting people from all walks of life across the globe.
Unfortunately, despite this, a stigma still exists, and those suffering from mental health issues can be negatively impacted by it. When people are influenced by a lack of understanding of mental illness or encounter misinformation or discrimination, they’re less likely to seek treatment and may experience worsening symptoms. If this sounds familiar, there’s a way out. Trustworthy resources are out there. If you or someone you know is suffering from feelings of depression or anxiety, seek treatment from a mental health professional. Countless people have been empowered by therapy to overcome the challenges they face and achieve desired outcomes.
None of us are superhuman; it’s so important to remember to have compassion for yourself. Forgive yourself when you slip up, be kind, and try to be better tomorrow than you were today. Moral of the story: pay attention to your state of mind; self-care isn’t selfish.