Seeking to improve mental and emotional health can radically change your quality of life. Experience higher satisfaction in personal relationships, professional connections and family life, as well as improved physical wellbeing and decreased rates of disease.
Please note that these mental health tips are no substitute for professional treatment, but rather should serve as a compliment to existing treatment plans.
Tips for an integrated and balanced life
Consult the following strategies to inspire healthy lifestyle choices and embrace mental health challenges as they arise.
1. Spend time outside.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.” Sunlight is an important source of Vitamin D, which boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation and improves energy levels, among many other benefits.
If you are looking for a “reset button” on the day, try taking your dog for a walk, reading by a body of water or doing some office work from a picnic bench instead of a cubicle. Make it a goal to get outside every day.
2. Move your body.
Science has consistently shown a correlation between physical exercise and improved mental health. This doesn’t have to mean extreme mountain biking or becoming a CrossFit junkie: Simply put, movement is key. Whether it’s going for a 20-minute walk or training for a marathon, physical movement releases important endorphins for boosting overall wellbeing.
Start by doing some gentle stretching to connect with your body in the morning, signing up for a gym membership, or going for a swim in a neighborhood pool. If you prefer exercising in the privacy of your own home, consider a free virtual platform like YouTube, or a paid membership to Peloton or BeachBody for thousands of workouts and personal trainers at your fingertips.
3. Connect with others.
Friendship is a deep source of lasting mental and emotional health. Building a network of people in your community will bring joy and richness to your daily life, and can provide a support system on rainy days. If this seems like a daunting task, start by inviting a coworker, family member or old friend for a cup of coffee or a simple walk in the park.
Be assured that contrary to being a burden or obligation, you will be providing your friend with an opportunity to take a step back from the busyness of life and enjoy the company of a companion.
4. Choose nourishment over convenience.
More often than not, improving mental health starts from the inside-out. Although platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub make it easier than ever to enjoy a restaurant meal without leaving the comfort of home, investing the time and effort into cultivating a healthy kitchen can go a long way.
Try planning out your meals at the beginning of each week and make a grocery list to organize your shopping. Schedule a routine time to make a trip to the store before you start to run out of everything in your refrigerator. This will prevent the temptation to make quick choices driven by convenience, reducing emotionally driven food selections, improving physical wellbeing and fostering lasting mental and emotional health.
5. Make time for reflection.
Some telltale signs of emotional health are self-awareness, stress management, strong coping skills and purposeful living.
What is one thing that these all have in common? Mindfulness; and mindfulness demands silence. While many people would agree that it is important to cultivate emotional health, the silence needed to foster this deeper reflection is hard to come by in the bustle of daily life.
Reserve some time this week to sit somewhere peaceful, where you can reflect upon what is most important to you, reconnect with some bigger hopes and dreams and plan for how to better organize your life to align with these higher principles more fully.
6. Get adequate rest.
Sleep is one of the most important pieces in the puzzle of physical and mental health. The CDC recommends 7 hours or more of sleep for adults aged 18-60 years.
Failing to achieve necessary sleep can lead to the following:
- Decreased attention span;
- Relationship strain;
- Overall lowered quality of life.
Long-term sleep deprivation can also rob the body of critical healing capacities, leading to increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
On the contrary, receiving the proper amount of sleep can bring about numerous benefits such as:
- Increase productivity;
- Boost mood;
- Prevent weight gain;
- Improve memory;
- Better athletic performance;
- Strengthen your heart.
To start, try to build healthy habits into your sleep routine, aiming for a consistent bed and wake time for a 21-day period. Avoid using electronics before bed and experiment with lighting a candle, using a diffuser or applying a soothing lotion to prepare your mind and body for deep rest.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take sick days. Your body will heal faster from illness if it is allowed the time and space to be restored to proper functioning.
The Light Program is here to help with your mental and emotional wellbeing. Schedule an appointment today, or call 610-644-6464.