In a stressful world that believes in physical disorders over mental ones, it’s fairly common for mental health to be overlooked. Sadly, ignoring problems that manifest psychologically or emotionally isn’t good for your wellbeing and can result in serious disorders or, even at best, you being trapped in your own mind. It’s time to improve your mental health!
Luckily, there are ways that you can strengthen your mental fitness, allowing for a healthier mindset and increased positive thinking. These methods are all backed by science and professionals alike. In short, therapists want you to do these 6 things to improve your mental health!
1. Spin Things To The Positive
It’s impossible to avoid negativity in life. Sometimes, learning to put positive spins on the bad things that will come can help you get through the very worst of times. Here are some expert-recommended ways to do so:
· Note Down Good Things
If you find yourself trapped in a cycle of overwhelmingly negative thoughts, try to spin them towards the positive by writing down two things for each negative one. This will help you shift your perspective and make you realize that some things are going well. It’s also a form of gratitude, says Alicia H. Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist, and a doctor of psychology, and it can completely change your current mindset.
· Counter The Negative
Sometimes, ignoring your negative thoughts isn’t sufficient and simply doesn’t work. Instead, try to counter them with the use of positive thoughts and statements, recommends John Mayer, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. As an example, when you begin to think negative and anxious thoughts about needing to spend money on repairing an appliance, counter those thoughts with the fact that this means the appliance is safer to use and will not malfunction again for a while.
· See The Good In Things to Improve Your Mental Health
Stress and anxiety can make it difficult to see the silver linings that sit and wait for attention in every dark cloud. So the next time you feel that anxiety, take a breath and try to seek that elusive but very real lining, suggests Clark. Instead of fretting that you’ll perform badly at a sports event, think about the lessons you’ll learn and the experience you’ll receive, for example. And if you can’t find anything positive? Well, consider that your cue to back out of the stressful situation!
2. Maintain Good Social Relationships
Extroverts surround themselves with friends often, but even introverts need a little bit of social interaction to thrive. The same goes for those with social anxiety and other similar disorders that affect their ability to socialize.
Most studies agree that social interaction is somewhat crucial for positive mental health. Not much of it is entirely necessary for those benefits, but a complete lack of it can send your wellbeing tanking. It can even affect physical health, shortening your lifespan, and putting you at risk for diseases.
Skylight Counseling Center founder and licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow recommends making a list of “your people”. These are the people you’re most comfortable with and who care about – those that you trust and know you can turn to in times of need. This allows you to be aware of the people who form the best relationships you have while also reminding you that these people can be there for you when you need them.
Worried that you’re still not getting enough social interaction? Don’t have enough relationships that are close enough to list? Try joining a group of some kind so you can enjoy some regular social interaction. For example, you can join:
- A class
- An activist group
- A volunteer program
- A professional group for your trade or skills
- Local religious community
- A therapy group
- A club for your hobbies
3. Eat Well to Improve Your Mental Health
The things you eat determine your wellbeing in many ways. An occasional unhealthy treat isn’t a bad thing, but constantly consuming junk foods and empty calories while ignoring daily nutritional requirements could affect your mental health.
On the flip side, some healthy foods have benefits for mental health. Your diet can alter hormone production, cognitive processes, and bodily function, so it makes sense that what you put in your body changes its wellbeing! Here are some examples of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that have been found in research to have benefits for mental health and positive thinking:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D3
4. Try Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the act of becoming present in the moment. It is meant to teach you to concentrate on the now instead of overly fretting over the past or future, leading to some degree of control over your thoughts.
Although mindfulness meditation is the most commonly discussed form of mindfulness, you don’t need to set time aside to fully meditate in the typical sense to do it. As a concept, mindfulness meditation can be performed anytime you like. It simply involves the process of clearing your mind, grounding yourself, and focusing on the present.
There have been numerous recordings of benefits from mindfulness for mental health and positive thinking, including:
- Reduced stress
- Improved memory
- Better concentration
- Healthier relationships
- Decreased anxiety
All you really need to do in order to practice mindfulness is to perform deep, focused breathing while emptying your mind. You can do this during yoga, while on a slow walk, or while sitting quietly anywhere. In general, you should aim to practice mindfulness once or twice daily for about periods of twenty minutes each time.
Want another way to practice mindfulness without the silence? Need help keeping your mind from wandering? Travis Bradberry, a SUCCESS contributor, recommends reciting positive phrases as mantras to yourself. For example: