Let’s talk about what positive mental health is for a minute.
It affects how we think, feel and act as we go through life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, interact with others and make everyday choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.
Throughout my life, I’ve gone through phases of really prioritizing my mental health and self-care and then phases of pretty much just ignoring it all together. Life gets overwhelming and sometimes I just have to take it day by day. The thing is, those too, are the times when self-care is REALLY important!
Recently I’ve been in one of those lulls where self-care hasn’t been a priority and it has really hit home for me. I realized I need to stop waiting for my mindset or my mood to catch up and take an active role in pursuing true health – mental and physical. I think addressing my mental health is imperative to prioritizing my physical health, too – it’s like a domino effect.
There are so many reasons you want to work at getting your mental health in check. It helps you cope with stress, think through problems with clarity, face adversity and handle anxiety. When you’re in a positive mental health state, you’re more likely to spring back during adverse circumstances – a.k.a. be resilient when you need to be!
When I’m in a really positive mental health state of mind, one of the things I am really good at doing is creating a morning routine. I will physically write out a checklist of things to do and follow it, checking each item off the list along the way. Basic things, like drinking a full glass of ice cold water and doing 25 squats to get the blood flowing, taking my vitamins and writing down what I’m grateful for. They are SUPER easy tasks but they feel amazing to check them off the list. Then, I go on with my day in a better mindset and proud I took a positive step in self-care.
Additional things I like to do to get back in a better routine to promote health and wellness is planning out meals and eating salads for lunch to ensure I get some veggies in. We all know how easy it can be to get stuck in a rut of eating on-the-go, meals from the freezer or simple bowls of cereal for dinner. Those are fine in moderation, but fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy mind and body. Seriously.
They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber to keep us physically and mentally healthy. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower blood pressure, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems AND have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.
By incorporating a salad into my meals every day, I know I’m getting nutrients that my body and my mind need to work correctly. If salads aren’t your thing, try cooking soups or stir-fries to increase the number of vegetables into your meals.
There are many other ways to increase your mental health and incorporating physical fitness into your routine is one of them. Exercise is a preventative activity for both physical and mental health. When you strengthen your body, there is a reduction in sensitivity to social defeat and stress-related diseases. Try to incorporate a daily stroll into your routine before or after work or getting a set of dumbbells to use while you watch your favorite TV show.
Other intentional activities to improve mental health are practicing acts of kindness, nurturing your relationships with friends and family, going to bed on time, exploring your spirituality and developing a sense of meaning or purpose in life like learning something new, volunteering and meditating.
Hopefully this blog post has got you thinking about what state your mental health is in and ways you can nurture it or help someone close to you that may need some help improving theirs. The benefits of positive mental health far outweigh the effort it takes to begin a practice for improvement. Whether it’s talking a friend into starting a walking routine with you, starting your own journaling practice (kind of like what I’m doing here) or heading off to the store to pick out some vegetables to incorporate into your meals this week, you can begin today.