In the United States alone, it is reported that more than 25% of people over the legal adult age have some type of mental health disorder. That’s one out of every four individuals who have a diagnosed condition– and perhaps even more individuals suffering without a proper diagnosis.
As 2020 contributed to even more intense mental and emotional difficulties for many, the “what, how, and why” of maintaining balanced mental health is at the top of society’s mind. While it used to be easy to brush off or ignore the importance of improving your mental health, now is a better time than ever to learn the ways you can take up healthy habits for life.
Here are 12 ways you can improve your mental health starting today. Of course, it’s always best to seek advice from your medical professional, but these practical suggestions have been scientifically shown to help teens, young adults, and seniors throughout the world.
Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Health
1. Exercise Many of us dread this simple yet effective tool to take charge of our minds. Regular exercise and physical activity set the body and mind in motion to carry out necessary tasks every day. Cardio and strength training release healthy “happy” chemicals in the brain that make us feel satisfied, fulfilled, and calm. Try to get a little bit of movement in each day, even if it’s just a 20-minute walk or a gentle yoga session. Every bit counts.
2. Eat Good Food Another often overlooked but crucial factor of mental health is keeping up with a healthy diet. The term “diet” doesn’t mean some passing fad that you read about in the news. Diet simply means the type of food you consume on a regular basis. Make sure to eat some fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every day. Stay away from junk food and unhealthy fats that affect the brain and body. If you are what you eat, eating better means feeling better.
3. Care for Your Body Sometimes eating right and exercising won’t amount to much if you aren’t taking care of your body. Avoid drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. Substance abuse can contribute to and even worsen some mental disorders. If you’re struggling with an addiction, seek help. Recovery is possible, and it won’t be easy to improve your mental health unless you first address the root causes of addiction.
4. Adopt an “Always Learning” Mindset The brain is elastic, which means it’s able to change and learn new things with flexibility. Having an attitude of eagerness to always keep learning is one of the best ways to improve the mind. Remember you’ll never have all the answers in life, but at least there is always something to learn. There’s always room for improvement, so take that as an opportunity to grow, not a sign that something is “broken”.
5. Expand Your Social Circle Trying to improve your mental health in isolation is extremely difficult. Humans are interpersonal creatures; we thrive on and crave social interaction. If you find yourself feeling unfulfilled or lonely in your current social life, it might be wise to expand (or even change) who you surround yourself with. Join online clubs or attend local events that interest you so you have chances to meet new people you can relate with.
6. Learn How to Regulate Stress Stress takes a toll on both physical and mental well-being. Learning how to regulate and cope with stress can seriously help your mental status. Having the tools and practices you need to overcome highly stressful situations and manage any overwhelming emotions can be life-changing.
7. Join a Support Group No matter how cliche it sounds, joining a support group can provide solace, friendship, and support both in times of need and when the phases of life feel good. Sharing your experiences and personal struggles in a supportive environment is helpful. Additionally, hearing other people share their experiences and unique stories is just as helpful in gaining perspective and peace.
8. Have Fun More Often When dealing with mental illness, sometimes it seems that nothing in life matters. We can sometimes take life too seriously and forget to find joy in what brings us pleasure. Try to have more fun even when things feel hard. Sometimes it’s important to live in the present and put a pause on thinking of all the major hurts that come with life.
9. Organize Your Schedule and Have a Routine Routine and structure can give the mind a sense of security and safety. When you know what to expect during your daily routine, you feel more at ease. Setting up and following a schedule can wire the brain to do the things you need to do in order to keep having the healthiest habits possible.
10. Appreciate the World Around You Many people claim spending time in nature or feeling appreciative of the world around them helps them find meaning in life. Getting some sunshine, fresh air, and beautiful scenery every day helps regulate stress levels and reminds people of the simple things in life.
11. Take Your Meds (If Needed) If you take medication from your psychiatrist, there’s no shame in that. Keep taking meds as prescribed and stay in communication with your doctor. Some people need glasses to see clearly. In the same way, some of us need prescription meds to operate mentally at our very best.
12. Remember Sometimes You Need to Ask for Help One of the biggest challenges people face is reaching out for help when things get dark. Never feel ashamed or too burdened to ask for the help you need. Mental health is health! Take action if an emergency comes up or if you start to feel unwell mentally.
Today there are many options for online therapy, where you can receive professional help over the internet. Don’t get left in the dark where you risk spiraling down into hopelessness. Help is available and you are worthy of receiving the help you need.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.