The importance of mental health has been in the center stage over the recent years, as there are many efforts to remove the negative stigma that surrounds it. Now that there are more open discussions about depression, anxiety, addictions and other mental disorders, what are some ways to help boost your mental wellness? Read to know more.
Mental health has been considered one of the “social taboo” topics that barely anyone wants to talk about. The negative stigma that surrounds it such as the person being “just dramatic” or “overreacting” can hurt those who suffer from it.
Now, there are more efforts to build awareness that mental health disorders should be taken seriously just as how people take physical illnesses in the same way. According to World Health Organization, October 10 is the official Mental Health Day which is celebrated to help raise awareness about the reality of mental disorders. This is crucial because now, one of the top causes of disability are mental disorders.
Signs of a mental health problem
In a personal level, we all experience bouts of highs and lows. However, there are signs that may warrant us to seek evaluation and treatment for mental health problems. Here are some of the common signs that you may be experiencing a compromised mental state:
1. Having a strong, persistent sense of worry and fear
Worry and fear are both essential emotions that people usually experience in daily situations. They are sometimes protective emotions that help us decide rationally. For example, we worry that we would not make it to work on time so we find resolutions to get up early. When used in a good way, worry and fear can help solve problems.
However, when worry and fear becomes overpowering that we have difficulties focusing on daily tasks, this can be a sign of a mental health problem called Anxiety Disorder. People with anxiety disorder may even experience physical symptoms of worry such as having panic attacks, insomnia, nausea, agitation, and inability to focus.
2. Feeling extremely sad or low
Another possible sign of a mental health issue is extreme sadness. As previously mentioned, feelings of sadness are typical from time to time, especially when correlated with recent happenings in our lives. However, when sadness seems to span over prolonged periods of time, or lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide, this points to possible signs of depression.
Some people may not be aware that they are depressed. Even without a clinical diagnosis, you need to pay attention to how extreme sadness affects you or your loved one’s overall quality of life.
3. Lack of interest in daily activities
Something that is a common sign for most mental health problems is the lack of interest in daily routines or hobbies previously enjoyed. If you find yourself just wanting to stay in bed, or avoid social activities, it could be a possible sign that your mental health is suffering.
Additionally, the increased amount of negative emotions (sadness, worry, fear) can also drain your energy, making you lose track of the things you have to do for the day.
4. Presence of addictions
Addiction can both be a cause and a coping mechanism for mental health problems. Some people would be into drugs, gambling, or alcohol in order to drown out the pain of mental health issues. However, it can go the other way–these addictions can also be the culprit of intense emotions and a lack of control.
According to Mountain Springs Recovery, a treatment center in Utah, many people resolve rehab drinking problems by incorporating simple yet helpful strategies to boost their mental health. These tips, combined with expert help can be helpful in improving people’s mental health issues.
Tips to improve one’s mental health
1. Journal therapy: Making your own gratitude and achievement daily log
When happenings in our lives seem to be on the fast-track, we feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to keep up with the responsibilities and we would often focus on problems to be solved rather than the things that actually went right.
A great way to care for our mental health is through Journal Therapy. According to an article in Psychology Today, gratefulness is effective in combating depression. This is because when we take effort to focus on things that we are thankful for, it takes away the spotlight on the problems we face or may be facing.
To start your journal therapy, you can write down in your notebook things you are thankful for the day and things you have accomplished. This doesn’t have to be “big” or “monumental”. Even simple things such as being able to organize your closet, open up to a friend, complete a 10-minute workout can be helpful in fostering an attitude of gratefulness.
2. Start your day with an energy-booster drink
Another helpful tip to help direct the course of your day is by having an energy-booster drink. You may start your mornings having coffee, tea, or any other healthy, options such as green smoothies. According to studies, coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. When people drink energy-boosting drinks in the morning, it provides a kickstart, allowing them to feel pumped up and ready for the rest of the day.
3. Rediscover your strengths and passions
Some causes of mental health issues are rooted in self-confidence problems. When traumatic incidents happen, people experience phobias, low self-esteem, anxieties, and other issues that cause them to lose interest out of fear and worry.
In order to combat this, you need to sit down and think about your strengths and passions. You need to list down activities that you think you are good at–it could be sports, art, music, writing, or even entrepreneurship. Be free-flowing with the ideas, and take one or two as a project you can pursue. You can take classes to work on your craft, join hobby groups, or buy materials that can help you rediscover your strengths and passions.
4. Exercise daily and eat whole foods
It is interesting to note that exercising and having a healthy diet doesn’t just improve our physique, but it can also pay dividends for our mental health.
There are studies that prove how exercise and good nutrition can help in overall mental wellness. It is found that having a healthy diet is linked to brain development, especially that of the hippocampus, the part responsible for learning, memory, and mental health. Those who have a healthy diet have a higher volume in their hippocampus compared to those who eat highly processed junk food and sugar. To start, incorporate a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats in your diet. Try to limit saturated fats, processed foods, and sugar and witness the changes.
Additionally, exercise also helps in mental health. When people engage in daily physical activity, the brain naturally releases surges of dopamine and serotonin, which are mood-boosters to help combat symptoms of low energy and depression.
It all starts with the first step
There’s a saying that goes, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, all you have to do is take a first step”–and this is very applicable when combating mental health problems. As you seek expert advice from mental health professionals, it would be helpful to start with these simple tips to care for your mind and body.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
Salman Zafar can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org