3 Ways to Nourish Your Mental Health Daily
How to Nourish Your Mental Health Daily
Having good mental health positively benefits your life in a multitude of ways. When your overall psychological well-being is in good shape, you are better able to cope with life’s ups and downs. Nourishing your mental health on a daily basis fosters stronger resilience to stress, supports physical health, improves your mood and outlook, and increases your life satisfaction.Learn how to boost mental health everyday by maximizing your social connections, nurturing your body, and finding meaning and purpose in life.
Connecting with Others Often
Hang out with friends and family every day.Having a strong and supportive network of friends and family is key to optimal mental health. Social interaction helps boost resilience to stressful events and even helps you live longer. When you spend time with others who make you feel good, your body generates hormones that lift the mood and fight stress.
- At the beginning of each week, try to schedule in contact with close friends and family on a daily basis. Your contact can be a simple phone call or a lunch date. Schedule in these connections just as you would a doctor’s appointment or a career function. While it’s nice to forge friendships online through social media and group forums, aim to meet some friends in- person regularly. This allows you to take a break from your daily grind and satisfies your innate need for social connections.
Play with your pet each day after school or work.When you think of connection, that of the animal variety may not immediately come to mind, but it should. If you have ever owned a dog, cat or other pet, you probably know all too well the level of joy and fulfillment animals can offer. Owning pets provides a range of benefits that contribute to positive mental and physical health, such as:
- Reducing depression
- Lowering blood pressure
- Boosting relaxation
- Producing a stimulus for exercise
- Helping you meet other pet-owners
Volunteer a few days a week.Helping out in your local community offers a wide range of opportunities to meet new people and connect with others. This not only satisfies your natural human desire for social interaction, but it also affords you a sense of purpose and meaning.Dedicating a few hours each day or week to a good cause can help you to feel like you are making an impact, resulting in stronger self-confidence and greater well-being.
- Look for ways you can contribute in your community. Animal shelters, nursing homes, homeless shelters, religious organizations, and schools typically have a need for volunteers. Contact these groups and see how you can go yourself some good by doing for others.
Caring for Your Body Every Day
Consume a healthy diet every day.Eating foods filled with empty calories, excess fat, salt, and sugar will only slow down your cognitive abilities and leave you feeling tired and drained. Selecting nutritious foods from all food groups delivers essential vitamins and nutrients to your body for abundant energy, clear thinking, and a positive mindset.
- Enjoy a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, low-fat dairy and plenty of water. Eat several small meals per day and include healthy snacks such as nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and raw vegetables. Avoid junk food, fast food, and foods that are overly processed (e.g. have long, extensive ingredient lists).
Exercise on a daily basis.Staying physically active is a terrific way to foster good mental health. Exercise not only supports physical fitness, it also lifts your mood and gives you energy to function effectively. Engaging in heart-pumping exercise produces feel-good chemicals in the body called endorphins. These chemicals give you the characteristic “high” that you feel after exercising.
- Most studies suggest that you should get in at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. What you do, however, is up to you. Pick and choose between activities that you like and that challenge you physically. You can run, swim, weight train, dance, or kick box—just get moving to reap the benefits!
- Aim to get a workout in each morning before you do anything else. Doing so gives you a burst of energy to move through your day and prevents you from skipping it later.
Make sleep a priority each night.Rest is important for long-lasting mental health, too. You may think that sacrificing a few hours’ sleep will give you the advantage to get ahead in life, but doing this regularly can actually detract from your overall well-being. Feeling sluggish or tired while at work or school can cause you to make mistakes and perform poorly.
- Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Doing so can increase productivity during the day, help you stay alert, boost your immune system to prevent illness, and fight off mental health issues like depression or anxiety.
- To optimize your sleep quality implement a few strategies. These may include creating an unwinding routine each night with activities such as journaling, reading, taking a hot bath and making a cup of tea. Try to rise and retire at the same times each day. Turn off your tech devices at least 30 minutes before bed. And, make your sleep environment comfortable by lowering the temperature of the room, removing distractions, and using black-out curtains.
Incorporate stress-management into your daily schedule.If you feel stressed out on a day-to-day basis, your mental health (and physical health) may suffer. Although it’s impossible to completely avoid stress, it’s a good idea to have strategies in place to prevent stress from affecting your life satisfaction.Develop a toolbox of useful skills that help you keep stress at bay.
- Your stress relief toolbox may include relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or visualization. In addition, incorporate activities/hobbies that bring you joy, such as listening to music, painting, writing, or getting a massage.
- Don’t forget that eating an unhealthy diet, skipping your work out, and failing to sleep can all worsen the effects of stress. Good mental health requires consistently attending to your physical and emotional needs on a regular basis.
- You can also develop a spiritual practice as a way to relax. This may include meditation, prayer, or some other spiritual practice that you find satisfying.
Avoid alcohol and drugs.During tough times, substances like alcohol and drugs can seem like a good idea. These substances often help people numb their feelings or provide a temporary mood lift. However, in the long run, alcohol and drugs only worsen the core problem. Minimize your use of alcohol and say “no” to drugs for overall health and wellness.
- If you have trouble quitting alcohol or drugs, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Excessive use of either can lead to problems functioning at work or school and issues in your relationships. See a professional counselor or therapist to help you overcome alcohol or drug abuse in a healthy way.
Promoting General Well-Being
Identify sources of satisfaction at your job or at school.Feeling fulfilled at work or in school is a great way to promote your general well-being and to nourish your mental health.To do this, try making a list of all of the things that you enjoy doing for your job or for school.
- For example, for your job you might include things like interacting with customers, working closely with my coworkers, or sorting mail. For school, you might include things like, math class, visiting with my friends at lunch time, or playing soccer in physical education class.
- If you are working a job that you do not find satisfying or that makes you feel unhappy, then it might be time for a change. Start looking into other jobs that you might like to do. If you are struggling to find things that make you happy at school, then you might consider talking with a school counselor to get some help with identifying ways that you can improve your school experience.
Find ways to stimulate your mind.Mental stimulation is an important part of your overall well-being.You may feel intellectually stimulated while you are working or in certain classes, or you may need to create your own opportunities for intellectual stimulation.
- For example, you could try reading a new book, doing a daily crossword puzzle, or playing intellectually stimulating games with your family, such as chess or Scrabble.
Learn how to process and express your emotions.Finding healthy ways to process and express your emotions is important for nourishing your mental health and it may also help you to feel better overall. Try to develop a strategy for processing and expressing your emotions, such as writing about them in a journal or calling a friend and telling them what is going on.
- If you had a rough day, then you might take 15 minutes to notice how you are feeling, label the feeling, and then to write about the source of this feeling. For example, you might notice that you feel angry and attribute it to getting a low grade on your math test. You might write about how you feel angry at yourself because you did not study for the test.
- Make sure that you identify a healthy way to deal with the emotion, such as going for a run, playing some music, or engaging in a favorite hobby, such as cooking or knitting.
Leverage your personal strengths.A powerful way to boost mental health is by engaging in meaningful work. You may have heard the phrase “do what you love, love what you do.” There’s no better prescription for a healthy, fulfilling life. However, doing what you love doesn’t necessarily have to refer to a job or career. Loving your job can be an exhilarating part of life, but there are also many other ways to contribute in a meaningful way.
- The secret to doing meaningful work is using your personal strengths.First, you must identify your strengths by either reviewing the areas/skillset you’re good at, asking for feedback from others, and/or completing a strengths-based questionnaire, such as the VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire.
- Once you have figured out what your strengths are, you can leverage them in your everyday life. For example, if a major character strength of yours is integrity, you could use this strength to your advantage. Take on the role of treasurer in a community organization or become an ambassador for a global fundraiser since a person of integrity is a great choice for handling money.
- Find as many ways as you can each day to put your personal strengths to work. As you do this, you will notice yourself becoming more empowered and satisfied with your life.
Set realistic goals and do one thing to reach them daily.Everyone has aspirations for the future. You may want to become a doctor, travel the world, or go back to college. However small or big your dreams are, you can only reach them by completing manageable chunks at a time. Adopting the habit of setting realistic and attainable goals allows you to notice and feel accomplished about your achievements, and, therefore, increase your quality of life.
- One method for setting realistic goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are:
- Specific- be clear about what you want to do
- Measurable- be clear about how you can keep track of progress
- Attainable- be sure that the goal actually is achievable through action
- Relevant- be sure that the goal is relevant to you and your dreams
- Time-bound- be sure to set a firm deadline that is challenging, but reasonable
- One method for setting realistic goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. S.M.A.R.T. goals are those that are:
Step out of your comfort zone often.The best way to maximize your satisfaction of life and nourish mental health is by showing steady growth. How do you do that? You grow by challenging yourself and getting out of your comfort zone.
- If you always did what was safe and familiar you would be closed off from other areas of potential that you can develop. Being challenged beyond your comfort zones creates a bit of good stress so that you are pushed to learn, invent, create, and transform.
- Take strides to challenge yourself daily by putting fear aside and asking yourself “what would I do today if I could not fail?” Whatever pops into your head, go for it.
- Plus, you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes because they are simply growing and learning opportunities. Reframe how you look at failure by giving it new meaning—think of FAIL as a “first attempt in learning.”
Spend 20 minutes in nature each day.If you are searching for a small way to boost your mental wellness each day, look no further than beyond your front door. Getting outside into the natural world delivers unbelievable advantages to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Many people feel more connected with to a higher power or the universe when they step outside. Not to mention, getting a bit of sunlight and fresh air can be incredibly refreshing.
- Studies reveal that spending time outdoors can reduce depression, increase energy, and improve one’s overall well-being. People who spent just 20 minutes in nature felt revitalized and had a greater resistance to illness.
- Take a book outdoors and read. Put your dog on a leash and walk through the woods. Or, simply take a few minutes each day to enjoy through your garden. Any time spent outside is an investment to your mental health.
QuestionWhat can you do to improve your mental health?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerMental health is directly related to physical health. Eating healthy, exercising, sleeping are all good habits that promote mental health. Additionally, learn to regulate emotions and use positive coping skills.Thanks!
QuestionCan diet affect your mental health?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerYes, it can. Sugar, for example, is known to cause mood swings and increases in anxiety.Thanks!
QuestionWhat food is good for mental health?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerIt is best to consult a nutritionist regarding food for mental health, however, omega 3 and vitamin D have been shown to support a healthy brain. Also, keep your blood sugar balanced.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I improve my mental focus?
Licensed Professional CounselorLicensed Professional CounselorExpert AnswerOne way is to manage stress in your life and keep it balanced. Find healthy ways to expend stress energy. Also, learn mindfulness practice to hone mental skills that allow you to focus amidst distraction.Thanks!
Video: The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health | Julia Rucklidge | TEDxChristchurch
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