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Tips on staying mentally healthy
Mental health plays a vital role in our everyday lives, as health problems seem to be on the increase in most countries around the world. What areas of our lives can be affected by our mental health? First, our emotions can be affected, our minds and the way we think, and finally our bodies.
By improving your mental health, you will be able to manage stress better and form healthier relationships. When do we need to be concerned about our mental health?
When you notice slight changes that adversely affect your relationships. This is a typical warning sign that something is not right, but what can you do about it? First, don’t bottle it up.
This can cause your stress levels to increase. Rather open up about your situation to your friends or family who are there to give you the necessary emotional support. Try brush up on your knowledge about mental health disorders through the internet or books.
However, after you have done all these things and it feels like the situation is getting worse, it may be time to approach a professional. Don’t wait until your mental health deteriorates before doing something about it.
There is an easy way for you to improve your mental health. Everyone can and should do it - simply exercise and eat correctly. Research indicates that physical exercise is not only good for losing weight but can improve your mental health. So much so, that psychiatric institutions and hospitals are using physical exercise as an integral part of their treatment of mental health issues.
Here are some mental health benefits of exercise:
- Hormones play a vital part as your brain discharges endorphins when exercising, which relaxes you and calms your mind.
- Exercise improves your sleep pattern. When you get more sleep your blood pressure decreases, so does your stress level and you can manage anxiety.
- When struggling to control your emotions, a good physical exercise program can help to release negative thoughts.
- Exercise can also help improve productivity in the workplace.
You may also want to read more mental health articles describing the benefits of exercise and mental health. Many can’t afford to belong to a gym and time is often a major problem when trying to fit exercise into the day. The best option is to just get moving, any form of physical activity is good. Begin with a brisk walk, a short cycling trip, swimming or anything else that gets the heart rate up.
Mental Health, know the signs.
As with all common health problems, you have to know the signs and symptoms in order to know if you need help or not. So, what should you be looking out for when it comes to your mental health?
Often, it is not a single sign or symptom but a combination that may point to a problem.
- Feelings of anxiety worry and fear that are constant, this could lead to other common health conditions such as headaches, stomach issues, or heart palpitations.
- If you notice dramatic changes in mood, irritability and emotional outbursts that seem severe or extreme in nature.
- Losing interest in activities, withdrawing from social situations, a lack of energy or motivation.
- A change in sleep patterns or struggling with insomnia
- If there is a drastic change in weight
- Thoughts and feeling of worthlessness and in severe cases thoughts of harming oneself or suicide.
As mentioned above, your physical health is closely linked to your emotional and mental health. A simple example: think about how you feel when you are sick, it’s not a pleasant experience. Even though most of us get better, there are those who have to deal with physical problems over long periods of time or even for a lifetime. Think of women’s health, for example, a woman who has problems falling pregnant and the stress that goes along with this. There is a very real chance of sinking into depression.
Men’s mental health is just as important in similar situations as well as others. That is why it is so important to look after yourself, to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing.
To begin your journey towards mental wellbeing, there are many things you can do. There is a very easy first step and this is to take a simple mental health test, which can be done at home. The test is a simple indicator, helping you to decide whether you require professional intervention.
Steps to staying mentally healthy
All over the world, people experience different problems, but all have the same effects on mental health. Common health issues in South Africa, for instance, include HIV/Aids, TB, and diabetes amongst others. These take a toll on your physical body, but also emotionally and mentally.
What can you do to improve mental wellbeing no matter the circumstances?
- Develop a support group, surround yourself with family and friends that are willing to help you. Support groups are also a great help.
- Each day, find and do something that you enjoy, something that makes you laugh and feel good. Something as simple as playing dress-up with your kids or going to the park and playing ball with your dog.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help from somebody you trust, be it a family member, friend, co-worker or teacher.
- It’s important to have a healthy diet and to exercise, look after yourself. Make sure to avoid excessive use of alcohol and avoid drugs.
- Make sure you get enough rest and sleep. Turn off your computer and other devices a few minutes before you go to bed, the blue light that comes off these devices are not good for your eyes. Follow a bedtime routine every night and if you find that you cannot sleep, get up and read a book for a few minutes and then try again.
- Don’t let stress rule your life, find out what your stressors are and try to manage them more effectively. Think about trying out a yoga class or getting out in nature.
- Be in the moment, try to not focus too much on the past and what you need to be doing tomorrow or next week.
- Take on something new, try joining an art class or go mountain climbing, depending on what you enjoy. Learning new things is a great way to improve mental wellbeing.
- Give something back to the community you live in, volunteer at an animal shelter or simply help your neighbour by cutting their grass for them.
Mindfulness and Mental Health
A helpful technique to improve and maintain mental wellbeing is to practice mindfulness. This means you become more aware of what you are thinking and feeling. You are also more aware of what is going on around you and your environment. The important thing about mindfulness is that even though you may have some negative thoughts or feelings, you embrace them without judging yourself.
Research has discovered that when utilizing mindfulness on a regular basis, it actually changes the brain. These positive changes help you to function better with day to day activities. To reap the benefits though, you have to practice mindfulness consistently. Mindfulness can also help those from all walks of life, young and old as well as in different situations, at work or school.
Benefits of Mindfulness:
- There is a decrease in stress levels and improved methods of coping with stress.
- Improved mental and emotional functioning
- You should feel more in control of your emotions.
- Helps to improve depression and anxiety
- May help to control certain behaviours, such as drinking. Helping with reducing the chances of problem drinking.
- In cases at work, increased productivity and the ability to manage stress better. Reducing the risk of burnout in employees.
- Helping to reduce feelings of anger and aggression
- Mindfulness can also help with improving social skills
- Improving focus, therefore helping students improve academically. Also, at work for improved concentration.
- Practising mindfulness can help to improve sleep patterns
- Helping those who suffer from chronic pain, to manage it better
- May even help you reach your weight-loss goals
As you can see, there are loads of benefits when it comes to using mindfulness. To reap these benefits, it is important to follow a regular routine of mindfulness techniques. This doesn’t mean you have to spend two hours every day on this, 10-minutes each day is enough to see results.
Prevention is better than cure
When it comes to any form of illness whether it is physical or mental, it is always best to treat it as soon as possible. Prevention is even better and taking a proactive stance when it comes to your health is the best way to go. By taking care of yourself with a good diet, exercise and check-ups, you are increasing your chances of living a happy and well-balanced life.
Many see a mental health issue as something you must simply get over, but inevitably the problem only gets worse. Your mental health is important, so if you want to live a healthy and balanced life, you need to take steps if you think you are suffering from a mental health problem.
Mental versus Emotional Health
You most probably know the saying, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ This is true for our bodies as well; our minds and bodies cannot function properly without each other. If something is wrong with one, it will affect the other. We go to the doctor for check-ups, in order to keep our bodies healthy, so why don’t we do this for our mental health as well?
Think of it as a mental health check-up, you can only reap positive benefits. Improve your relationships and the way you think about yourself; the list can go on.
There are some myths out there concerning mental health disorders. Some believe it is a weakness and this just isn’t true, it is a medical disorder that requires treatment and you shouldn’t be ashamed to seek out help.
Maybe you think therapy is a waste of time? You need to consider therapy as a tool that will help you to cope with your problems, something that can improve your everyday life. Battling mental health alone will only lead to it growing and getting worse.
Treatment and Support
You don’t have to battle with mental health alone, there is help. Treatment and support are available where you can begin your journey to wellness. Simply visit the ZwavelStream Clinic and you will get the best medical advice you need.