Most people believe that mental disorders are very rare and “happen to someone else.” Recently, researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that there are serious discrepancies among mid- and late-life adults in reporting past and present mental disorders, including depression, compared with the reporting of physical disorders such as hypertension. The good news is that you have the power to enact real change in the way you think, behave, and cope on a daily basis. But you need to put in the work.
Below are 5 practical ways to look after your mental health. Making simple changes to how you live doesn’t need to cost a fortune or take up loads of time. Why not start today?
Eat well and Exercise
Food is our fuel so it just makes sense that the better we eat, the better we work. Our brains work better, too. Research shows that the food we eat is a big part of mental health. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains give us the nutrients to work our best. Add regular exercise to the the weekly mix. Experts believe exercise releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good. Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and help you concentrate, sleep, look and feel better.
Take time out
Stress happens, and it always sucks on some level. Schedule time away to prevent becoming frustrated or angry. If you schedule time for yourself it will help you to keep things in perspective and you may have more patience and compassion for coping or helping your loved one. Being physically and emotionally healthy helps you to help others. Sometimes you just need to step away from what you’re doing or dealing with and get some air.
Accept your feelings
Despite the different symptoms and types of mental illnesses, many families who have a loved one with mental illness, share similar experiences. You may find yourself denying the warning signs, worrying what other people will think because of the stigma, or wondering what caused your loved one to become ill. Accept that these feelings are normal and common among families going through similar situations. Find out all you can about your loved one’s illness by reading and talking with mental health professionals. Share what you have learned with others.
Learn how to deal with stress
Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress. Try taking a walk when you first get up or after dinner, or try scheduling 20 minutes into your work calendar to remind you to just step out for a bit.
Get enough sleep
Sleep has a huge effect on mental health. When we get enough sleep, it is easier to cope with stress, handle problems, concentrate, think positively and remember things.
The exact amount of sleep you need is based on your own body. You know that you are getting enough sleep when you do not feel sleepy during the day.
It is easy to think that we can get more done if we cut back on sleep. But it is harder to get things done when we do not get enough sleep.
Finally, don’t wait and get help when you need it. Seeking help is a sign of strength. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.