Mental health has become an essential aspect of overall human well-being and plays a crucial role in determining people’s quality of life.
According to WHO’s (2022) global review report on mental health, nearly a billion people, including 14% of the world’s adolescents, lived with a mental disorder in 2019. More than 1 in 100 deaths are caused by suicide, and 58% of suicides occur before 50. The World Health Organization also found that people with severe mental illnesses die prematurely due to preventable physical problems. All these concerning data lead to the urgency of people’s mental hygiene, particularly in improving overall mental health.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, it has affected every aspect of society, including mental and physical health. A multidisciplinary joint research team found several psychological effects that are profound in general, like anxiety and depression, and needs special care while disconnecting in physical ties (Holmes et al., 2020). This leads to the priorities in determining which mechanism could be the best for improving mental health.
In this article, you will explore some of the ways mental health affects daily life and how you can take steps to improve your mental well-being, from best practices to the signs when you need to seek help when your mental health is declining.
Best practices for improving mental health
Taking care of your mental health is an important issue that affects everyone, and it’s vital that you are aware of the habits that can affect your mental well-being. Below are some best practices you can apply to your daily life.
Take care of your body
Taking care of your physical health should also be the utmost priority when improving your mental health. Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between physical and mental health. For example, exercise and general physical activity are associated with improved physical health and decreased depression/anxiety disorders (De Mello et al., 2013) and a systematic review by Taylor et al. (2014) found general evidence that depression, anxiety, and stress were reduced after a smoking cessation intervention.
Taking care of your physical health can be done with the smallest steps like eating nutritious meals, avoiding smoking and vaping, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
Surround yourself with good people
Social connectedness is one of the many basic needs that everyone should fulfill. A good social support system and a positive circle network are great additions to building a mentally healthy environment. Having a social network plays an important role in maintaining good mental health, and reducing the risk of anxiety, stress, and depression (Santini et al., 2020).
Make regular meet-ups with your friends and have intimate dinners with your family. It doesn’t have to be fancy and grand, instead, try to plan something interactive to build a strong bond among your emotional support system. You can also join a community to surround yourself with people who has the same interests as you.
Learn how to deal with stress
When talking about dealing with stress, mastering coping skills is essential. Coping is defined as managing, tolerating, or reducing the effects of internal or external stressors perceived as exceeding the individual’s ability to cope (Folkman & Lazarus, 1991). Mastering the right coping skill will help to avoid any build-up of mental burden and maladaptive suppressed emotions.
Look within yourself and find out what you like and what kinds of things make you angry, sad, or anxious. After that, try to find what kind of stress reliever suits you the most. There are plenty of activities to help you relax like meditation, hiking in the woods, or writing a journal. Remember to always have a bit of humor as it would help to ease the stress.
Practicing gratitude is also known to help in improving your mental health. As a disposition or characteristic, gratitude allows an individual to view and appreciate things from a positive and meaningful perspective.
Research shows that gratitude has a strong correlation with declining stress and negative emotions like anxiety (Fekete & Deichert, 2022).
Getting started on practicing gratitude is simple — you may want to keep a gratitude journal to help you be consistent in reflecting on your day before going to sleep. You may also want to be fully present and honor the time you are in like when you are eating, working, or doing small things that make you happy
Focus on positivity
Having a positive mindset and positive thinking is one pro tip for improving mental health. Positive thinking, also known as optimism, not only boosts mental health but also helps to avoid negative physical health issues.
Study results suggested that positive thinking can help during difficult times in the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the rumination of perceived stress. Those with a positive outlook on life are better able to cope with the challenges of the pandemic (Dymecka et al., 2023).
Having a positive mindset can be trained by practicing gratitude, filtering and being aware of your negative thoughts and expectations, trying to reframe how things are done, and having the best positive manifestation of what will happen in the future.
Get help if needed
The last best practice is to seek professional help whenever you can’t get a grasp of yourself. Doing so will benefit you with the right guidance and advice.
Deciding on whether and when should be the best time to go to a professional could be challenging. It is natural to feel confused and a bit overwhelmed. Try to recognize your feelings, emotion, and daily life first, that way you might be able to grasp what is happening in your body and mind.
But when those negative thoughts or emotions start to take up most of your time and become overwhelming for a such prolonged period, seek help immediately. Here are some signs you need to be aware of :
- An extended period of sadness
- Declining interest in social activities
- Alterations in eating or sleeping habits
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Visual or auditory hallucinations
- Emotionally extreme highs and lows
- Suicidal or self-harming ideas
- Lack of energy or fatigue unrelated to physical health issues
- Gaining or losing weight without a known cause
Our quality of life is greatly influenced by our mental health, which is a critical component of overall wellness. As part of improving mental health, self-care, lifestyle changes, and seeking professional support are necessary. Some of the best ways to promote good mental health are to adopt healthy habits, manage stress, engage in physical activity, and maintain positive relationships. It’s critical to keep in mind that everyone’s road toward mental health is different. Yet, even tiny improvements can have a big impact on your well-being.
If you need more resources on improving mental health, visit the Personal Science Labs. The lab uses the research of the Institute for Life Management Science to produce courses, certifications, podcasts, videos, and other tools. Check out the Personal Science Labs today.
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