When we talk about mental health, often the conversation turns to depression or anxiety disorders. There is no shame in seeking depression help, or help for any mental health diagnosis. I struggled with panic disorder for years, as a result of PTSD, and was on medication for anxiety for at least twelve years. In learning to manage my own anxiety, I’ve come to believe that there are healthy habits for mental health that you can incorporate into your life to help you.
Healthy Habits for Mental Health
Mental health is defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” In order to maintain a healthy psychological and emotional state, there are a few positive changes that can help improve your mood, manage your daily mental health, and reduce stress without the use of medication or with the lowest dose possible. Of course, you should ask your doctor for help for struggling teens or children.
Make Sleep a Priority
One of the most difficult things to do is to maintain healthy sleep and rest habits. It’s hard to make the decision to go to bed when others in your household are awake or friends are still messaging you, but it’s important to create boundaries to protect your sleep schedule.
It’s beneficial to go to sleep and get up at about the same time every day, limit your caffeine intake, and limit your blue light exposure (light from smartphones laptops) in the half-hour or so before you go to bed. These are things that can disrupt your quality of sleep and hinder your body’s production of melatonin, if not monitored.
Have trouble sleeping? Check out these natural supplements for sleep.
Spend Time in Nature
One of the best natural ways to feel happier is often to get some sunshine. Sunshine helps with your serotonin levels and boosts your vitamin D levels, both of which help boost mental health.
If blazing sunshine isn’t your thing, perhaps a walk in the woods could do a lot for your well-being. Exploring nature, getting some exercise, and enjoying some time away from “noise pollution” could be what your body and mind both need. I’ve come to truly appreciate the trails near our home.
Possibly one of the most difficult suggestions to introduce into a daily routine is exercise. If it’s not currently a regular thing for you, start small.
You don’t have to join a gym or sign up for extensive classes; take a brisk walk while. listening to music, or do some housework or yard work that keeps you moving. Anything that gets the heart pumping, including fun activities like swimming playing tag with your kids. Routinely playing a sport is also beneficial for your body and mind.
If you can get yourself moving for 30 minutes a day on weekdays, you are on the right track and will likely feel your stress levels or mood-lifting. A great goal to shoot for is 150 minutes of activity each week.
Take Up a Hobby
Make sure you have leisure activities that you do regularly; something that doesn’t involve a screen but keeps your mind and hands busy. Activities that help you relax which are done regularly can significantly help reduce stress.
Your hobby may include exercise, which is a great option, but it also might be as simple as art or crafts. It’s amazing how soothing coloring can be. Whatever it is, find something that helps your brain take a break regularly.
Another difficult suggestion to implement into your daily life is a healthy diet. For many, a way of coping with stress is eating; but not usually eating healthy foods.
Introducing green, leafy vegetables as well as fruits, dark chocolate, and a little wine into your diet will make a significant impact on your mental health by providing nutrients that are important for “optimal brain function.” Other ways to improve your mental health through your diet include eating at regular intervals, avoiding unhealthy snacking, and limiting your sugar intake.
If you have tried all these options (plus more!) and still haven’t been able to regulate your mood or control your anxiety, be sure to ask for help. Make an appointment with your medical doctor today if you’ve experienced changes in your mood. Seeing a mental health professional is also a great place to start if you’re having trouble with depression, anxiety, or major stress.
The healthy habits for mental health above are a great starting point toward improving overall mental health.
Explore Nutritional Supplements
As I recently mentioned in my reasons to take nutritional supplements article, your body loses nutrients when stressed and some vitamins and minerals can play a big role in mood stabilization. I see a functional medicine doctor for hormone regulation, and she recommended that I take Vitamin B, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, and Zinc. Did you know that according to Scientific American, there is growing evidence that zinc deficiency may be a factor underlying depression in some cases? According to MedicalNewsToday, research also indicates that vitamin B, vitamin D, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids may help relieve the symptoms of anxiety.
Of course, always check with your provider before beginning any new supplements!