Mental health in the US has become a major issue in recent years. We can do a better job of identifying and treating those with serious mental issues as a society. But, what can we do in our own personal lives to better our mental health, find stability for our emotions and emotional responses to situations, and lengthen the amount of time our mind stays sharp as we move from carefree youths into old age? We may be sitting pretty right now in the prime of our lives or in our glorious youth, but how can we prevent the onset of mental health issues as we age? It turns out there are some simple and easy things that you can do today that will help you stay mentally healthy and focused through out your life.
Here are five ways to stay mentally healthy:
1. Take Care of Your Body
Your mind and body are intimately connected and your body’s health can adversely affect your mental health as well. People with chronic health issues are much more likely to fall prey to depression and have much longer and more severe depressive episodes than someone who is physically fit. When your body feels poorly or you are in chronic pain, it can wear down anyone’s mental health and stability. By taking care of your body and getting regular exercise, you also release endorphins into your body that can better your mood and give you more energy. Exercise can also be a healthy way to deal with stress or complex emotions. If you free your butt, then your mind will follow.
2. Watch What You Eat
Foods can adversely affect your mood and this has been proven in numerous scientific studies. Stay way from foods that will alter your emotions or make you feel drained like caffeine, foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates, fried foods and alcohol. You are indeed what you eat. Eating healthy foods will make your body feel better and prevent the emotional highs and crashes by stabilizing your blood sugar. Remember that mind and body are linked, and what you feed your body, you are also feeding your mind. If you want a healthy mind, then you need to feed it healthy food.
3. Surround Yourself With Positive People
Nothing can be more draining than being around negative people all of the time. Your outlook on life tends to be shaped by the media you consume and the people you surround yourself with. If you are constantly on conspiracy theory websites and only talk with or hang around people who also read those same theories, then don’t be surprised when you start feeling a little paranoid. If you want to have a healthy and positive mental outlook on life, then surround yourself with people who are positive and supportive. Develop relationships with people who are optimistic about the future and are willing to get out there and try to change things for the better.
Optimism, motivation and positivity are contagious, but so are negativity, pessimism and cynicism. Choose to be positive in your feelings and emotions and don’t listen to those negative voices in your heart telling you that you can’t, that you aren’t good enough, or that you suck. Instead, tell yourself that you are awesome, that you can make a difference and that you will succeed. Find others who also believe that they can and empower and embolden each other.
4. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
Now that you are ready to change the world, you can start with setting small and achievable goals. Many of us get motivated and then slam right into the enormity of the tasks we have set for ourselves. Writing a novel is a daunting task when taken as a whole, but if you break it up into thirty chapters of twenty pages each and set yourself a goal of writing a couple pages a day, then it isn’t so monumental. You can write a couple pages in an hour or two. By setting these small realistic and daily goals for yourself, you can achieve astounding things.
Large problems are just like a five ton pile of Legos. You can’t lift five tons by yourself, or can you? If you use a bucket, you can move those Legos one bucket at a time. Anyone can lift a small bucket of Legos, right? Over time, you will have moved that five tone pile all by yourself with minimal effort on your part. By breaking a large complex task into very small and achievable goals, you are able to do what you need to do without stressing about it.
5. Learn To Manage Your Stress Better
Stress can be crippling if it is left alone and not dealt with on a regular basis. Chronic stress has been linked to a number of diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, obesity, depression and diabetes. Stress is the number one killer in the U.S. It can make you feel awful, emotionally and physically. The good news is that stress management can greatly decrease your chances of exacerbating these conditions and increase your mental and physical health. Exercise can be very helpful with stress, as can yoga and meditation techniques.
Part of stress management focuses instead on re-framing the situation you are in that is causing you stress and keeping your problems in perspective. It may seem like the end of the world to you in that moment, but that moment will pass. By managing your stress and keeping things in perspective, you will be able to manage your emotional and physical responses better.
Eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, managing stress effectively, surrounding yourself with positive and uplifting people and setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself can help you maintain your mental stability, positively effect your mental outlook on life and keep your mind sharp.