Because of the various causes of mental health problems and differing experiences of individuals, mental health is a difficult and complex topic.
While different people may have different needs, creating healthy habits can help maintain or improve mental health.
Consider adopting a new habit today to mind your mental health. Here are 5 examples you may choose to start with…
Exercise is one of the most common recommendations to improve mental health. According to multiple studies, regular exercise is shown to not only help with physical fitness, but to relieve stress, improve sleep and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Whether it is taking the dog for a morning walk or kicking a ball around with the kids, daily physical activity is an effective tool in increasing confidence and building positive mental health.
2. Limit screen time, especially social media
With the advent of the smartphone, we now have screens in front of us almost constantly.
Irish people check their phones 58 times a day on average, according to a new study. The survey also found that the majority of phone users (87%) check their phone within the first hour of waking up. The figures come from Deloitte Ireland’s Digital Consumer Trends 2020 report.
While social media allows for easier communication between friends and family, it may be taking a toll on the mental health of its users.
As a result, researchers in this study recommend setting a limit of 30 minutes of social media use every day. Self-monitoring screen time is also believed to decrease symptoms of anxiety.
Monitoring social media use and screen time is now very easy, as many smartphones have built-in or downloadable apps that can help track app usage.
3. Find exercise that you enjoy
There is mounting evidence that suggests exercise is an effective treatment method for people suffering from acute and chronic mental illness, with some studies suggesting that exercise is just as effective, if not more effective than pharmacological intervention in alleviating depressive symptoms.
Exercise can make a big difference in mood and needs to be a fundamental part of mental health treatment. Even one workout a week is known to have great benefits.
Exercise can also counteract the side effects of some medications such as reducing the risk of falling by strengthening muscles and helping control body weight and blood pressure.
4. Watch what you eat
When feeling down or anxious, it can be easy to fill meals with heavily processed comfort food. However, research shows that people will be better off eating healthy, both mentally and physically.
It has been proven that we eat influences our brains and how we function. Research has shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables, fish and unprocessed grains help regulate the levels of serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin helps regulate things like our sleep schedules and moods. This improved regulation results in better physical and mental health.
5. Take time to be mindful
Mindfulness is a common technique to help maintain mental health, and it has become more popular in recent years.
Mindfulness is the practice of intentionally paying attention to present-moment experience without judgment, elaboration or reactivity. Cultivation of mindfulness improves mental wellness through reduced stress, anxiety, depression and enhanced ability to enjoy life. Specifically mindfulness may help manage symptoms of anxiety, depression or other mental illness and lead to healthier decisions around substance use, food or exercise. Furthermore, mindfulness can improve body awareness, including awareness of physical sensations and emotions, which helps to facilitate a sense of groundedness and is particularly helpful during crisis.
Mindfulness is also one of the core principles of meditation and yoga.
Yoga and meditation resources can be easily found on the internet. Our pharmacist Nuala, for example, practices yoga on her own by using YouTube, including the popular channel “Yoga with Adriene.”
Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace have also become popular and include routines that range in length from one minute to an hour.
Choose to be more mentally aware this World Mental Health Day and take some time for yourself to mind your own mind.