Many of us neglect our mental health in favor of getting more work done, isolating ourselves, staring at screens, and whatever else modern life throws at us. Yet, how we feel in our minds has a big impact on the rest of our physical body. You would do what needs to be done to prevent cancer as much as you can; the same should be said about mental health.
Before we start: do you suffer from clinical depression?
Depression is a serious illness, but sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re just going through a rough patch in life or if you’re suffering from a formal illness. If you’ve been experiencing sadness, anxiety, guilt, fatigue, and other depression symptoms for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor. Meanwhile, try to prioritize your mental wellness.
Antidepressant medications can be expensive because they usually need to be taken every day. If you live in the United States or other countries where pharmaceutical prices are high, you can save money by buying online from international and Canadian pharmacies, accessible through websites like Rx Connected, a Canadian pharmacy referral service.
Drugs aren’t the only answer, however. Simple lifestyle changes and new habits can help. Let’s dive into a few ideas to manage and improve mental health:
First, clean up your diet.
It makes logical sense that what we put inside our bodies impacts how they work, so why do so many of us eat junk? Eating “comfort foods” may give us pleasure in the moment, but long-term consumption of unhealthy food leads to a variety of health problems, not to mention post-lunch sluggishness.
Eating well shouldn’t be difficult. You don’t need to shop from a high-end grocery store or do whatever diet is trendy at the moment. Instead, focus on eating whole foods (that is, things that don’t come out of a vending machine) and home-cooked meals. Drink plenty of water and stop eating when you’re full.
Second, move a little more.
Yeah, exercise is tiring, but you don’t need to run a marathon. Simply incorporate being on your feet more throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, go for a walk during your lunch break, and break up long periods on the couch with a few jumping jack breaks.
We’ve traditionally associated exercise with losing weight, but it may come as a surprise that exercising isn’t that effective when it comes to losing weight. Rather, fitness offers other awesome health benefits like better cardiovascular health, stronger bones, and reduced risk of cancers. It also helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Speaking of sleep…
Third, get plenty of rest.
In our fast-paced modern lives, sleeping gets a bad rap. It’s a puzzling phenomenon, seeing how important adequate and high-quality sleep is to human health. Good sleep is in fact strongly related to good mental health, according to science.
Insomnia can be a very frustrating condition to experience, so if you’re not getting adequate sleep or if you sleep for long periods of time but are still tired, see your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder without even knowing about it.
Fourth, be social.
Research suggests that socializing is correlated with less stress. Even the most introverted of introverts can use some human contact on occasion. We, humans, have evolved to be social creatures. Without proper socialization, we become neurotic.
As people get older, it may be harder and harder to find time to socialize. If this is your experience, simple, low-cost, and low-barrier activities may make things easier, such as visiting each other’s houses or going for a brief coffee break. Even everyday chit-chat counts, so go ahead, chat with that barista and ask your co-worker what they did on the weekend.
Fifth, find something to do that you love.
The feeling you get when you’re totally immersed in something you love is a powerful one. Psychologists call this state flow, where you are focused on a challenging yet enjoyable activity you are skilled at. Time seems to rush by and everything else in your periphery melts away so that the only thing that seems to exist is the task in the moment.
If you haven’t found an activity that puts you in this state yet, explore activities that require something you’re highly skilled at that are also challenging. Common activities include playing music, creating art, writing, sports, and even driving.
Finally, re-think your concept of health.
It’s worth repeating: health isn’t just about your heart, muscles, bones, and teeth. Your brain – frankly, the organ running it all – deserves attention too. Invest in your mental health today, and you may see other aspects of your life begin to improve.