Beginner’s Guide to Focusing on Mental Health
There is so much information out there about mental health, from blogs, “experts”, and social media influencer.
But what does “mental health” really mean?
Mental health describes a person’s overall psychological health and well-being. It has a lot to do with the way you feel about yourself, how you interact with your thoughts and emotions, how you deal with challenges and how you show up in relationships.
Every human will experience some challenge to their mental health at some point. Those who give no attention to tending to their mental health during these challenges can get sucked into anxiety, depression, or a mental health crisis. If focusing on mental health is a new topic for you, here are some tips to help you get started:
Nothing keeps our mood elevated like the feeling of being connected – truly connected – to other people. While texting and social media have their place, be sure to spend quality face-to-face time with friends and loved ones.
Alongside connection to others, connection to ourselves is foundational to mental health. Don’t isolate – shut off from – your needs, emotions, and desires. Spend quality “face-to-face” time really seeing and caring for yourself.
Make R&R a Priority
Are you someone that burns the candle at both ends? This fast pace is so common in modern (capitalistic) society that pointing it out is akin to saying “the sky is blue”. Good mental health requires you to get enough leisure time so you can rest and enjoy.
Often times when people say they are “burned out” they are really describing a state of doing too little of the things that bring them joy and fullness.
Nourish your Body with Food
Have you ever noticed that when you eat in a rush, your meals are full of “quick” (processed) foods, or you’re distracted during your meal, you tend to feel unwell physically and mentally? When we deprioritize meals in order to cram more into our day we lose touch with the foundational needs that nourishing foods provide. Balanced meals ensure your brain and body has the building blocks it needs to create stable sources of chemicals and hormones that you need for mental health.
Mindful eating – being undistracted and staying attuned to your meal while you eat – can be a great source of both enjoyment and mind-body connection.
Physical activity is as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health. Regular exercise can relieve stress, elevate mood, and even help you get a better night’s sleep.
However, the greatest mental health benefits you can get out of physical activity are when you divorce exercise from trying to make your body look a certain way.
Instead, focus on movement that feels really good to your body and your mind. This has the double benefit of all the positive effects of exercise plus a much higher likelihood that you’ll stick to it.
These foundational practices will get you started towards optimizing your mental health. If you feel stuck around any of these areas, or are ready to take it to the next level, reach out to a therapist who can help you build your mental health.
If you’d like to explore your next step to improving your mental health, reach out to me for a free consultation.