Nine Steps Toward A Mentally Healthier You

Easy Ways to Take Care of Mind and Body

 

Whether it's through steps you take on your own, or help you get from a professional counselor, good mental health is an achievable goal. Here are nine of our favorite fixes for better mental health.

 

Think and talk positively

Negativity is like quicksand: If you think negative thoughts and say negative things, whether to others or just yourself, you’ll soon be mired in a bleak outlook. Don’t get stuck. Instead, make a conscious effort to think and say positive things -- especially in your self-talk.

 

If you’ve had a bad day or made a mistake, don’t say “Today was bad because I’m such a screw-up,” or “I can’t do anything right and I’ll never be happy.” Instead, flip your script to positivity: “Today was rough but I did my best and I know tomorrow will be better” or “I made an error, but I learned from it and know I can avoid the same misstep in the future.”

 

Beating yourself up is not conducive to good mental health. If you find it hard to stop your critical self-talk, Psychology Today has some good tips on how to do so.

 

Live with gratitude

A  mental health letter from Harvard Health Publishing examined some of the findings on studies on gratitude and stated it “is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

 

To help you on your way to better mental health, it is important to make time every day to be thankful. Whether it’s simply taking a few minutes to count your blessings or just saying thank you for kindnesses from others, being grateful can help boost your mood and your outlook.

 

Other strategies the Harvard authors outlined for cultivating your gratitude include writing thank-you notes, journaling, meditating and praying.

 

Be in the moment

Mindfulness has been a buzz word for a while now and has spawned a multitude of websites, books and programs devoted to being in the moment. Even if you are reticent to embrace the cultural phenomenon, there is great value in working on focusing on the moment at hand.

 

Too often we fail to enjoy the here and now or focus fully on the task at hand and instead turn our thoughts to what’s next or what’s next after next. But slowing down and living in the right now can be a powerful tool for mental health. In a post at Psychology Today in which she talked to mindfulness experts, Lisa Firestone stated “mindfulness is an incredible tool to help people understand, tolerate, and deal with their emotions in healthy ways. It helps us to alter our habitual responses by taking pause and choosing how we act. When we are mindful, we experience our life as we live it.

 

Get active

Exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and relieve your stress, making it a powerful way to combat depression. Even if you can’t carve out an hour a day to go to the gym, you can add activity to your day to improve your mood. Take the stairs, park in the farthest spot, take a walk around the block. If your schedule allows, aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day.

 

Eat right

Food is fuel for body and mind. Moderate intake of carbohydrates can increase serotonin, which can be calming; protein can keep you alert and energized; fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins and nutrients for your overall well-being. Making good food choices can lead to improved physical and mental well-being and can help you achieve the strategies above.

 

Stick to a bed time and get enough sleep

Sleep deprivation is a mood killer. Yes, there will be times when you have to stay up late and get up early, but as often as you can, stick to your bedtime and get at least eight hours a night.

 

Take a break

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to take some time just for you, even if it’s just a few minutes to take some deep, calming breaths. Make sure to stop now and then to soothe yourself. Find a meditation app, take a bath, take a walk (see above about exercise), anything that is just for you.

 

Do something for others

Just as there is power in being grateful, there is power in being generous. In another Harvard Health Publishing post, Stephanie Watson, executive editor of Harvard Women's Health Watch states “studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression.”

 

Volunteering, by the way, also provides a number of physical health benefits, too.

 

Talk to someone

Whether your romantic partner, a trusted friend a coworker or a mental health professional, talking about what’s bothering you can be a powerful tool in taking care of yourself. Talking allows you ease the burden of carrying your worries alone, and can provide perspective on any struggles you are facing.

The team at Foundations Counseling is here for you to share. Give us a call at 970-227-2770 if you’d like to explore ways in which talking with one of our professional staff members can help you on your way to better mental health.