Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of the rest of your body. Here are five beneficial actions to take for a healthy mind. 1/5 of the US population is living with a mental health disorder, and that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for the quality of living, but also for our lifespan in general. According to NAMI, adults with mental illnesses die 25 years before their mentally healthy peers.
Hopefully, that gives you a little insight into the importance of valuing your mental health and getting help when you need it.
Some mental illnesses are genetic and others come with trauma or other things you can’t control. But whether you have a mental illness or not – you need to make mental health a priority.
Focusing on yourself in a healthy way for just five minutes a day will improve your quality of life – your sleep – even your relationships!
Want to learn how? Read on below.
How to Improve Your Mental Health: It’s the Little Things!
What do you think of when you hear the words self-care? Decadent bubble baths with bath bombs? Fancy facials? A massage?
That’s the capitalism in our society taking over the self-care movement. But really, self-care can be very small (and free) actions that make a difference in your life.
Here are just a few of our favorite examples.
1. Regulating Your Sleep Schedule
You put your kids to bed at around the same time every night and when they get off their schedule, things get a little bit chaotic. Right? They’re grumpy, you’re grumpy, and things get more difficult.
That’s because the sleep schedule is essential for the body. If it has a regular time it can depend on to heal and go through restorative processes, it functions better when it’s awake.
That’s not something you grow out of. Adults need sleep schedules just as much as kids do. And yes, we know that your life is chaotic. But if you can go to sleep within the same hour range every night, you’ll see major changes.
We’re talking about emotional regulation, an increase in energy, and a better general mood.
And yes, that means you need to be regular on weekends, too. There’s no harm in sleeping in every so often, but if you regulate your sleep schedule correctly, you won’t need to.
Treat weekends, sleep-wise, like they’re any other day.
2. Try Meditation
If you have a current mental illness or are undiagnosed but suffer from anxiety, meditation seems like the last thing you want to do. Being alone with your thoughts? No thank you!
But meditation will have the opposite effect if you put the effort in.
Not only is meditation good for your mental health, but it can lengthen your life.
That’s a scientific fact.
To start meditating, first, lower your expectations. You’re going to have thoughts flying through your mind for at least the first month (or six) you practice.
You’re never going to be a Buddhist monk. Those people take years to get to that level of zen. Just put the effort in every time you sit down to meditate, and you’ll be fine.
Our tip? Look for a guided meditation. They have words that help you stay on track and visualize. We like the app Stop, Breathe, and Think.
It has a great check-in feature, which is great for those working through depression in sobriety. Checking in and realizing when you’re in a bad place can help you avoid relapse.
3. Count Your Blessings, Not Sheep
There’s a song that goes “when I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings, instead of sheep. and I fall asleep, counting my blessings”.
That’s not just a nice sentiment and a good rhyme scheme. Expressing and practicing gratefulness makes us happier and even healthier.
Before you go to bed, list three things you’re grateful for, to yourself. You can write them down in a journal or do them in your head.
Try to do three different things each time, but don’t stress if you’re repeating. If you need help getting started, think about the basics.
Food, water, shelter, wifi, you know, the things you have that we all need to live.
4. Say No to One Thing Per Week
If you’re not the kind of person who feels like they overextend themselves, you can skip this point. But chances are, you’re one of those people that wear tired on your face like a badge of honor.
How do you get there? By saying yes to doing too many things. It’s nice to help people and to feel involved, but you can’t do everything.
Challenge yourself to say no to one thing this week. Maybe that means you buy store bought for the bake sale or you say no to taking on an extra project.
If you feel bad about it, know that you’ll do a better job at your other tasks if you give yourself a break here or there.
5. Schedule a Call with a Friend
We all have those friends that we meant to call for their birthday, but then we forgot, and life got busy. Forgetting isn’t the problem – not connecting with enough people is.
Every week try to call one person you love connecting with. Schedule fifteen or twenty minutes to talk and stick to your guns.
When you have meaningful conversations, you’re happier in general. And that other person will feel valued and like that you thought of them.
It’s Not Rocket Science
Improving your mental health isn’t rocket science. It really means taking a break from your daily chaos to slow down and smell the roses. Or the rose scented candle, which is sometimes all you’ve got.
If you make yourself a priority, you’ll thrive in other parts of your life. Don’t believe us?
Try just one of these tips, consistently, for a week. Tell us you don’t feel better after that.
If you can’t do any of these, at least drink a glass of tea. Most of us are dehydrated anyways!