The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “There is no health, without mental health.” Quite true, the mind is the captain and an unhealthy captain definitely sinks the boat. Only a person with sound psychological, physical, professional and personal health can be called ‘healthy.’ Mental health and wellness pervades all other dimensions of overall well being. Unfortunately, it is also the most neglected even though our ancestors elucidated its importance centuries ago. Maybe it is time to revisit the basics and fundamental things that keep us sane and functional.
Our hyper busy schedules hardly leave us with time for ‘ourselves’, and after being everything the world wants you to be it befalls on you to be the one thing that you are by design: a sane and contended human being. While you are handling the pressure of surviving in a cutthroat world, it takes a toll on your mind and jogging it up from time to time may give you the peace and satisfaction you have always craved for.
What is mental health?
Being mentally healthy means simply possessing an ability to feel, think and act in a way that affects yourself and this society positively. It is not about living a perfect or utopian life but rather being capable of facing the challenges life throws at you. It would be incorrect to call good mental health as simply the absence of a mental disease or illness because it goes beyond that. It signifies living a life filled with productivity and constructive actions. Mental health seeps in from a lifestyle with an approach that takes physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual health together.
Why is it important to be mentally fit?
The importance of being mentally fit and healthy cannot be emphasized enough. It helps you align your thoughts, words and actions to a purpose in life. It is important for professional as well as personal success. It gives a feeling of fulfillment and achievement. A mentally healthy person enjoys the fruits of his accomplishments and the hardships of his life equally.
If you are still not satisfied with the reasons, here is a list of characteristics and benefits that mental health helps you reap:
- Mental peace, satisfaction and contentment.
- Living with zeal with a sense of fruitful enjoyment.
- Cohesion and coherence in activities and relationships.
- Ability to adapt to change and learn new skills.
- High self-esteem, confidence and a feeling of being capable.
- Ability to deal with challenges without losing hope.
- Adding meaningful contributions to the society.
- Earning respect, trust and responsibility of people around you.
How to improve mental health?
This brings us to the most important part of this post. To answer the question, we have curated a list of 10 tried and tested tricks to improve mental health. Like any other habit, these must be cultivated. You might already be following some of them, you can catch up to others to make it a lot better.
1. Mindfulness for a healthy mind.
Mindfulness is very different from mainstream meditation being more simple and less disciplined. Being aware of yourself and your surroundings is all there is to mindfulness. It could be a simple exercise like focussing on breaths or being aware of all your senses. Any activity that engages all your senses classifies as being mindful. Light meditation can also be helpful to calm a hyperactive mind.
2. Regular exercising to stay fit.
This ensures a good physical state of body as well as mind. Running induces euphoria and light exercise releases endorphins that take away anxiety and elevate your mood. Exercising improves blood flow to the brain and rejuvenates the body. A workout session literally releases ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters that relieve you from stress and leave you feeling good about yourself.
3. You ARE what you EAT!
Nutrition has to be prioritized because it is what sustains the body and mind. Drink plenty of water and eat a variety of foods to ensure a wholesome diet. Fruits, green leafy vegetables are vital for good mental health, eating oranges, oatmeal, spinach, avocados also boosts production of serotonin that keeps the mood in high spirits. Complex carbs and black tea help lower blood pressure and boost the immune system.
4. Choose your surroundings and people well.
Stay away from things, people, places or experiences that do not make you happy. Always keep good social connections and engage on a personal basis with your circle to keep the edge off. A supportive family and healthy relationships help much in this department by boosting mental strength to deal with issues. Make strong, long-lasting bonds, memories and have a good time with your loved ones. Stay miles away from negative people and likewise emotions.
5. Avoid alcohol, drugs and junk.
Avoid putting junk food or other junk like alcohol, tobacco or drugs in your body. Never self-medicate yourself or use alcohol or other psychedelics like marijuan etc. to treat depression and anxiety. These substances cause irreparable damage to the brain cells and are also the reason behind several mental illnesses and personality disorders.
6. Got stress? Deal with it.
This world demands the last drop of your sweat and blood and stress is inevitable. The better way is to develop a coping mechanism that helps you vent and let off some steam. It could be a physical activity, an art form, journal writing, nature walk, tai chi, anything. Laughter is a great way to boost immunity and strengthen your overall health. It also helps to relax the body, ease pain and unwind.
7. Stop suffering alone and learn to let go.
Be confident in speaking up and speaking out your problems. If you feel too much pressure, voice your concerns to the right people. Don’t let past baggage keep you dragging through the mud, shed the load and be free of guilt or past mistakes. Create an outlet for your emotions and avoid keeping things bottled inside.
8. Heal yourself with nature.
Merely spending 5 minutes with nature can make you feel lighter and happier. NAture is a magic healer and if you cannot access it, merely looking out the window at a tree or even a picture of a forest would suffice. It is called ‘biophilia’, humans are wired to be in sync with nature.
9. Find a purpose and meaning in your life.
It sounds a bit philosophical but ist is the most practical way to stay sane. A goal or a target keeps you focussed and away from getting distracted. Small achievements and accomplishing realistic goals boosts confidence and improves will power and determination. Goals in life are like energy bars for mental health.
10. Don’t shy from getting professional help.
Seeking professional help for mental issues does not make you retarded. First, remove the stereotypical thinking of being mocked for seeing a ‘shrink’ and if you think you need a professional counsellor or therapist. Go ahead and get help quickly before things escalate out of hand. Here are a few signs and symptoms to watch out for and if you see any of them in yourself or a friend/family member, immediately seek help.
- Excessive sleeping or eating.
- Alienating oneself from social life.
- Low feeling, no energy or depression.
- Being numb or devoid of feelings.
- A feeling of hopelessness.
- Unexplained pains in the body.
- Having suicidal or self-harming thoughts.
- Severe mood swings and regular feeling of anger, irritation or mania.
What are mental illnesses?
Mental illnesses are recognized as a deviation from normal behaviour, a change in emotional feeling, thinking and are usually associated with depression, hypertension, overthinking and other problems in normal functionality in the social, personal and professional spheres of life. There is one in every 24 people who suffers from a minor or major mental disorder. They usually disrupt sleep, behavior etc.
It should definitely not be neglected and as far as possible individuals should make it a priority to look over mental wellbeing and health. Comment with your opinion and views on mental health below. Thanks for reading.