Did you know that 1 in every 5 American adults will have a mental condition in any given year? Taking care of your mental health is one of the most important things you can do to keep your whole self healthy. While there are varying degrees of mental conditions, as well as a multitude of treatment options, there are a few things you can do to support your general mental health. Here are 11 activities to add to your weekly routine that can help make a difference in your life:
1. Eat well – Living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining your mental health starts with what you put into your body. Eat whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while avoiding processed foods. Remember, any nutrients (or chemicals) you put into your body are also what you’re feeding your brain.
2. Exercise – Make time to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, whether that means taking a fitness class at the gym or going on a walk during lunch break. It’s important to keep your body moving and in good condition to keep your mind in great condition as well.
3. Lower stress -Stress can catch up to you and have an averse affect on your mental health, so make sure to pay attention to your stress levels before they get too high. Find little things to do to lower your every day stress level, such as taking a break to watch a TV show you like or write down what’s bothering you.
4. See a friend – Spend time with people you care about. Besides increasing your happiness by seeing those you love, you’ll have the opportunity to express anything that may be bothering you to someone who will listen and help.
5. Get a good night’s sleep – Sleeping is an integral part to your overall health. It’s been shown that a lack of sleep leads to greater risk of depression and anxiety, as well as decreased immune system functioning. Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it is a great way to start adding more hours of sleep to your night.
6. Read a book – Keep your mind busy, engaged, and constantly learning new things by reading a book. Looking for a good book to read? Ask friends & family for recommendations on something you may enjoy.
7. Travel somewhere new - You don’t need to spend a lot of money to go somewhere you’ve never been. Hop in the car and find a park nearby, or take a whole weekend to travel to a new state. Expanding your horizon is a great way to stay happy and healthy.
8. Save time to do something that makes you happy - Paint a picture, take a yoga class, do some gardening…whatever it is that relaxes you and fills you with joy, make sure you save time to do it. All work and no play can lead to a stressful and unhappy life.
9. Get off social media/the internet - Too much time spent staring at a screen is bad for your health in so many ways, including your mental health. Beyond just the strain on your eyes, social media sites can introduce negative thoughts. Take a step back and enjoy your relationships face to face rather than on the computer.
10. Help others - We’ve all heard the saying, “Help yourself by helping others” and it couldn’t be more true. Volunteer at a shelter in your area, or help a friend move into their new home. By staying in consistent contact with others, you develop a support system for yourself to get through hard times when they occur.
11. Practice breathing - When you practice yoga, you are taught to live mindfully and to be conscious of your breath. Breathing exercises can help reduce stress and anxiety while promoting calmness and inner peace. Here are some breathing exercises to get you started.