We’re quick to take care of our physical health—like sucking on cough drops to ease a sore throat, stretching out tight muscles or contacting the dentist to check out that toothache—but commonly, mental health is pushed aside like something we’ll get to if we have time.
Thankfully, a switch is occurring where society as a whole is a bit more outspoken and active about the importance of caring for our mental health. After all, your thoughts, feelings and emotions dictate much of what you do, so if that’s out of whack, chances are so are most things.
The good news? There are countless habits you can make routine in your life to help improve mental health.
How to Improve Your Mental Health
You know that feeling when everything you’re dealing with swirls around in your head like an out-of-control vortex carrying you towards (what feels like) the brink of insanity? Whether you’re overwhelmed, anxious or stressed, keeping it all inside have you feeling crazy.
Journaling can help. Not only will the written words on the page help minimize the invasiveness of these thoughts (getting them out on paper makes them feel less immediate and pressuring), it will also aid in perspective. What seemed like a big deal in your head might actually be less overwhelming when you see it in ink.
Visualizing emotions, even if just in the written word, can lessen whatever overbearing power they boast.
2. Talk with a friend
For those of you who are external processors, having a person with whom you can discuss issues, weigh outcomes and gain advice from is incredibly helpful. And for internal processors, once you’ve taken the time to think everything through on your own, opening up to a friend can offer you support you might be struggling to find in yourself.
Talking with another person can give you new perspectives, and might even allow you to come to the reality that the problem at hand isn’t as large as it seemed when bottled up in your head.
3. Explore the Great Outdoors
If your mom ever told you as a kid to go outside and get some fresh air, she knew what she was talking about. Being outside in the sunshine not only gives you a dose of crucial vitamin D, it gets you out of the house and into the beauty of nature.
There are so many things you can do outdoors, including:
- Hiking through a local, state or national park
- Relaxing in the water of a nearby lake or ocean
- Reading a book in a lawn chair in your backyard
- Training your dog
- Taking a nap in a hammock
Truthfully, the list of activities to improve your mental health outside is as vast as the great outdoors itself.
4. Treat yourself
Self-care is a huge aspect of mental health, so taking time to carve out a little me-time is an important way to improve your mental health. Maybe you need new clothes for the summer, so you take yourself on a shopping trip, complete with lunch out. Maybe you need quiet time, so you book an AirBnB to escape for the weekend with a good book, lots of tea and your yoga mat.
So long as it’s productive, healthy and promises to bring you peace and minimize stress, you can’t go wrong with a little self-care.
5. Read a book
A lot of us make the excuse that we don’t have time to read, but we argue that if you set aside your phone for a while, you’ll find you have plenty of time to get through a chapter or two.
Reading is a huge benefit to your mental health, not to mention that it’s a healthy little escape from reality and an exercise for your brain. Starting or ending your day with your favorite book can help put you in a relaxed frame of mind to help you feel more peaceful throughout the day, or more restful before you drift off to sleep.
6. Go for a drive
Sometimes you just need to get out for a little bit, so an easy way to give your mental health a little boost might be climbing into the driver’s seat, turning on your favorite music and touring the countryside. Perhaps you have a destination in mind, and maybe you don’t— that’s ok. Simply driving can help you clear your head and make you feel a little less trapped.
7. Wander through a museum
Art museum, science museum, natural history museum— it doesn’t matter. Museums offer an atmosphere of peace and learning, which can put you into a better state of mind. Plus, you’re likely to learn something new, exercising your brain and broadening your creativity. If you find yourself feeling bored or burnt out, consider exploring your local selection of museums.
8. Speak with a therapist
The job of a therapist is to literally help people find ways and habits to improve their mental health. Sometimes it’s difficult to quiet our minds without being a how-to guide; speaking with a counselor can help you reach these healthy coping mechanisms, new perspectives and beneficial conclusions about the thoughts in your head.
If you think speaking with a therapist could benefit your mental health, reach out to the team at October Road anytime by calling 888-201-5086.