Your mental well-being is just as important as your physical well-being. Often, your mental health affects your physical health. Therefore, it is important that you make our mental health a priority. Follow these ten habits to strengthen your mental well-being.
- Make long lasting, personal connections. Personal contact with others, especially long-term and close friends, is essential to your mental well-being. The physical contact and intellectual exchanges you share stimulate your mind and emotions. Schedule time to talk with your friends every few days so that you stay connected and your mind gets its exercise.
- Stay active. Keeping your body healthy also helps to ensure that your mind stays in good shape. Go out for a bike ride, walk, or run. Anything that increases blood flow and oxygen to throughout your body is a good choice. Depending on how active you are, an endorphin boost may be an added benefit. So get out there and work up a sweat to strengthen your mental well-being, and capacity.
- Learn new things. Keep your mind sharp by learning something new. You do not have to take English Literature classes or physics. A fun art or cake decorating class will help sharpen your mind. Use or build creative skills to help increase your memory and reasoning skills. Knowledge based activities such as crossword puzzles, word searches, and cryptograms are good choices. This is not just for older individuals, it is for anyone, and so important to strengthen your mental well-being. Age does not matter but to keep the mind sharp is a benefit that does last into older age.
- Give until it feels good. It will always strengthen your mental well-being and give you a lift when you give of yourself. Compassionate giving stimulates the brain’s pleasure center, gives life meaning and purpose, as well as enhances feelings of closeness and connection. In general, the happier or more pleased you are with your life, the healthier you tend to be. To develop your compassion, practice compassionate giving and compassionate thinking. You can do this in a variety of ways such as volunteering, giving anonymously, listening to a friend, and performing a random act of kindness. Praying or compassion meditation also help your compassion to grow and flourish.
- Keep your balance. Take notice of how you feel both physically and mentally. A change in your normal activities or attitude often means that something in your life is out of balance. Worrying about the changes only makes things worse. Figure out the cause. If you have difficulty finding the cause, ask a close friend for his or her perspective. Take steps to regain your balance. These may include learning to say “no,” relaxing more, setting boundaries for yourself and others.
- Make time to be alone each day. Daily activities can be draining and stressful. Time alone gives you the opportunity to take care of yourself. If you have dealt with unhappy people all day, value your efforts to keep a positive self-image. Did you run from place to place? Take time to read, enjoy a soothing bath, or spend time with your pet. Do things that help you relax, refocus, and refresh your mind, body, and outlook.
- Eat nutritious foods. Since your mind or brain is one of the organs in your body, it is affected by what you eat and drink. It is best to get your nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, vitamins, and minerals – from the foods you eat. If you feel you are not getting the right amount for brain health, try adding more lycopene, B vitamins – especially B6 and B12, choline, DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, lysine, and folic acid among many others. The key is to get a healthy amount without over doing it.
- Get enough sleep. Sleep is very important to your mental well-being. Sleep gives your brain a chance to restore and repair itself while also cleaning away cellular debris. Being sleep deprived is more dangerous physically and mentally than you think, literally. People who do not get enough sleep have impaired brain function and do not interpret things clearly. To get more sleep dim the lights two hours before bed. Sleep in a cool room but keep your feet warm. When you toss and turn, get out of bed. Cut down your fat intake – it is linked with poor sleep in women. See a doctor if sleep issues are an ongoing problem.
- Appreciate what you have. If you are always trying to get the next best thing you just might end up disappointed. So keeping a positive outlook on things and on what you have will help your mental well-being tremendously. Remember and appreciate when good things happen and write them down even. This way when you are feeling down you can remind yourself of a better time and work to get back to that.
- Smile and laugh. Do not be so quick to pooh-pooh the phrase “put on a happy face.” Smiling and laughing can change brain chemistry and connections. To make your brain more positive, make a conscious effort to smile more. Make time to laugh. Watch a funny movie. Subscribe to a humorous email list. Borrow several joke books from the library. Laughter truly is the best medicine and it is free.
Taking care of your mind is simply taking care of all of your well-being. So put some of the ideas above into action to give yourself a new lease on life.