Your mental health is just as important as your physical health—in fact, they’re inextricably linked. Taking care of your mental health is more than just going to therapy every week. These tips can help you make changes and form positive habits that can improve your mood, enhance your quality of life, build confidence, and help you find the strength you need to handle anything life may throw your way.
Engage in positive self-talk. The way you view yourself and your life can have a significant impact on how you feel, and it is possible to change negative thinking patterns. When you find yourself thinking about something in a negative way, try to put a positive spin on it instead. For example, instead of thinking “it’s all my fault” after something goes wrong, ask yourself, “How can I approach this type of situation differently to achieve a better outcome next time?” Reframing negative thoughts to be more positive can lead to a stronger sense of empowerment and self-worth.
Practice gratitude. Acknowledging what you’re grateful for can help you feel happier and stronger, both physically and mentally. Writing down three things you’re grateful for every day can provide positive long-term benefits and help you find more joy in the little things.
Be present. Embracing mindfulness and allowing yourself to just be in the moment offers benefits to your mental health you never may have thought were possible. Start by bringing awareness to everyday tasks like washing the dishes, eating a meal or walking your dog. Take note of your five senses — the smoothness of a bowl in your hand or the vivid green of the leaves on the trees as you walk in the park.
Get moving. Studies have shown exercise helps relieve stress, depression, anxiety, and other conditions. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that boost your mood and help you alleviate stress. Try to get outside and walk for at least 30 minutes a day. Not only will the exercise do you good, exposure to sunlight enables your body to produce more vitamin D, which boosts serotonin levels.
Eat well. A well-balanced diet is vital to maintaining your physical and mental health. Moderate consumption of carbohydrates increases serotonin, a mood-regulating chemical in the brain. Foods rich in protein boost levels of dopamine, norepinephrine and tyrosine, and can help keep you alert. Of course, fruits and vegetables are sources of vital nutrients and vitamins that not only feed your brain, but your whole body. Research has also shown that Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids can enhance cognitive function and boost mood.
Get plenty of sleep. A large number of scientific studies have shown lack of sleep can have a profoundly negative effect on your physical and mental health. Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and shut off all screens at least an hour before bed. Limiting caffeine consumption during the day can also help.
There are many activities available at the Y to keep you active and help you stay fit. Visit one of our locations today to become a member, and start taking advantage of our fitness centers and exercise classes.