Positive mental health is something that everyone should strive for. Our state of mind affects everything we do, from school, to work, and even hanging out with our friends and family. Whether you have a mental illness or not, there are things you can do every day to feel better about yourself. Taking some time each day to focus on yourself is a must in our hectic world.
Here are eight things you can do to change your thought process and feel better.
- Healthy Eating: Believe it or not, our lifestyle absolutely affects how we feel emotionally. Everything we put into our bodies affects us. Making healthier food choices can change your mental state quickly. Studies show that grease and sugar have addictive qualities and lead to blood sugar spikes, as well as feelings of tiredness, and mood swings. Try eating natural, unprocessed foods that don’t come in boxes, cans or bags for the best results.
- Get Moving: Exercise is a must for a healthy state of mind. It doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Whether you are walking, running, dancing, lifting weights, or playing your favourite sport, every step counts towards feeling better.
- Sleep: If you’re always tired, not only will you have a hard time concentrating at school, at work, or in general, but you can also tend to feel irritated and possibly sad. Your brain needs time to regenerate each night so it can function at top speed. For the best sleep, try limiting screen time before bed.
- Say No: Alcohol, tobacco and drugs can seem like a good idea to minimize stress and make you feel better, but they actually have the opposite effect. Not only do these vices have nasty side effects and consequences, they are also shown to contribute to mood swings and sometimes depression and anxiety. Keeping your mind and body clear will help you remain positive and happy.
- Learn How to Cope: No matter how hard we try, it is nearly impossible to fully eliminate stress from our lives. The best thing we can do for ourselves is learn how to properly deal with stress; practicing mindfulness and learning to meditate are two great ways to do this. Meditation may seem dull, but things like running, walking, reading and listening to music are great ways to slow down, focus, and clear your head. Practicing mindfulness just means being in the present moment and being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the moment, and dealing with what we’re feeling.
- Don’t Overschedule Yourself: We all have busy schedules now and it seems like we HAVE to fit everything in. Work, school, sports, social events, extracurricular activities, etc., all play a positive part in our lives, but overscheduling yourself can have negative effects on your mental health. Sometimes you need an hour or two to yourself instead of hanging out or running around. Set realistic expectations for yourself as to what you can get done in a day, and be sure to leave yourself enough time to get important things done. You are also required to be given work breaks and days off – take advantage of these.
- Build a Great Network: The people we choose to surround ourselves with often have a huge influence on our mental health. If you consistently feel poorly after seeing someone, it may be best to limit contact with that person. We should always try to be around people who make us feel good about ourselves, and who we can reach out to if we need to. Make time for these people as often as possible, and laugh/cry/talk/chill with them.
- Get Help: If you are having trouble dealing with something, feeling down, or just want to chat about something, reach out to someone. Sometimes talking things through with someone you trust in your circle can make a huge difference. And sometimes you need help from someone like a mental health professional, and that’s okay too. The point is, don’t hesitate to ask for help, because it will be there when you need it.
*This article is not intended to be a substitute for medical help. If you feel suicidal or need to speak with someone about your mental health, please reach out to someone you trust or seek medical attention or visit the Crisis Services Canada website: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca.