May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and during these 31 days, we hope that everyone takes some time to consider how they can help both themselves and others in this regard. If people learn more about mental health in general, they may be better able to recognize warning signs of mental health problems in both themselves and in loved ones. However, protecting and improving mental health involves more than reactive awareness, as preventative measures can be immeasurably beneficial if they help someone avoid these problems in the first place.
Therefore, our team of Orange County mental health professionals at SoCal Empowered would like to offer readers 10 different ideas for improving mental health. People can put these ideas to use even if they are not necessarily battling serious mental illness. After all, everyone can always use a boost to their mental health just as we can all benefit from other forms of healthy living.
1. Train Your Inside Voice
Many of our thoughts, opinions and perspectives on the world in general start with our internal dialog. That includes what we think of ourselves. Studies have revealed that people can have as many as 11 negative thoughts about themselves every day. Long-term, this pattern of self-negativity can harm someone’s mental health. Have that internal argument with yourself and correct those thoughts the same way you would if someone else said these things to you.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
The old adage says, “We are what we eat.” While that may seem like just a colloquialism, studies have shown that yes, in fact, what we eat and how we eat does impact our physical and mental health. Improving mental health is an effort that’s aided when we eat a balanced and nutritious diet and avoid junk that negatively impacts our bodies.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Everyone understands that we need to exercise in order to maintain our physical health. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of several types of health problems. A lack of physical activity can also lead to harm to a person’s mental health, so if you’re looking to improve mental health in your life and you’re not active, start by exercising even a little bit to feel better about yourself.
4. Protect Your Sleep
When we lack sleep, everything about our subsequent day suffers. We are irritable, slower to react to things and just generally lethargic. While one poor night of sleep here and there is unavoidable, we need to make sure that we protect our sleep to ensure that we’re getting enough. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep could harm our mental health.
5. Our Network Affects Us
Another old saying states that, “We are who we surround ourselves with.” Once again, there is truth to that old belief, as we tend to be affected by the mental states of those who we spend time with on a day-day basis. One step towards improving mental health could be to make sure that we spend as much time with positive, supportive people as possible.
6. Demand Some Quiet Time
Given our incredibly busy lifestyles, it’s very easy to just go-go-go all day and then fall into bed for what is usually a restless sleep for a few hours. After that, it starts all over again. The days somehow turn into weeks, months… The point is that we need to take time every day – even if it’s just a few minutes – to unplug from the world, both literally and figuratively. Doing so is a big step towards improving mental health.
7. Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption
Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with having a drink from time to time as long as there are no other health problems or risks present. However, drinking too much alcohol can not only exacerbate existing mental health problems, but lead to other challenges. Improving mental health for many means getting their alcohol consumption under control in a way that works for them.
8. Learn to Cope with Stress
Stress is another reality of life that no one can avoid. Regardless of how it comes about, how long it lasts or how intense it is, stress is present. Long-term stress and/or periods of intense stress can lead to very real cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other problems. Improving mental health involves learning how to cope effectively with stress.
9. Organize Your Life
Clutter is an interesting reality in that it’s both literal and metaphorical. Generally speaking, if your home or work space is badly cluttered, it could be a sign that your mind is as well. The more cluttered our mind, the more we have to remember, and the more we have to remember, the more stress we experience. As we’ve seen above, stress is not an element in improving mental health. Take some time to organize your world to free your mind.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Finally, improving mental health is not always something that’s done alone. For a lot of people, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. Together, you and your mental health professional can put together a plan that helps on improving mental health and maintaining it once you’ve achieved that initial success.
Improving Mental Health with SoCal Empowered
If you or a loved one is struggling with improving mental health in a meaningful way and it’s affecting your life, SoCal Empowered is here to help. All you need to do is contact us. We’ll listen to your situation and work with you to take the best next steps towards restoring the level of strong mental health that you deserve.
We understand that the first step is often the most difficult, but you can rest assured that you’ll be glad you spoke to us when that initial conversation is finished. Contact us today.