10 Ways to improve mental health
‘Mental health’ is often substituted for mental health conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
What is mental health?
In essence, mental health is about your own wellness rather than illness. According to Mental Health Statistics in Australia, mental illness affects 4,000,000 Australians.
Whether we like it or not, we live in an age where our status in the world is more glaringly exposed than ever. If we choose to, we can compare our lives, loves, and luxuries in an instant via social media.
As a result, we’re constantly confronted with questions about the quality of our own existence; and question marks about our own happiness based on the perceived happiness of others. It’s another stress, a new stress that generations before us didn’t have to face and a lot of us aren’t dealing with it that well.
Not only that, our lives are now open to analysis by strangers from an alarmingly young age – be it compliments (hopefully), criticisms and, far too often, brutal abuse.
Our mental health has to revolve around something far more important – us.
Mental health definition
World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realised his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
As part of the World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness month, we look into how to deal with what’s invading our headspace and our lives on a daily basis and find solutions to prevent this.
Here are 10 ways to help you stay sane even when things around you get a little haywire.
One: Log into your body
You have a username and you know the password. So log in and spend more time browsing your body and clicking on its needs, be it exercise, better diet, and nutrition or just better posture. They all count and the more we focus on things we can improve in our body, the less fixated we’ll be about extraneous influences.
Two: Log out of the madness
Whether you’re a stressed student facing exams, a business exec facing a budget blowout or a parent battling busy kids 24/7, you need to find a quiet space and relax. And that’s not once a week, it’s every day.
Even if it’s half an hour of blissful solitude to listen to music or just tune out, it’s long enough to relieve some stress.
Three: Distance yourself from doomsayers
They might be friends who always have a bad take on a potentially good thing or just people who are career criticisers and they’re not doing you any good. Constantly negative people can have a toxic effect on your own sense of well being, so ask yourself: “Is this person making a valuable contribution to my life?” If not, try to minimise their involvement for the sake of your sanity.
Four: Ditch an addiction
Be it alcohol, drugs or cigarettes, none of them are enhancing our health and we know that. We also know it’s not easy to quit one or all of them.
Just know that the sense of release and self-belief is a miraculous and wonderful feeling if we do. So, find the family and professional support you need to give it a go.
Five: Be honest even if it’s embarrassing
We all have our fears, our inadequacies, and we all hide behind a facade of sorts, be it big or small. Why? Pride? Fear of rejection? Fear of being seen to be less than the perfect person we’ve made ourselves out to be?
The longer we pretend to be that perfect person or fear some form of humiliation, the less sense our lives actually make. Real life, real meaning, real contentment comes when we stop pretending and become refreshingly real.
Six: Be selfish
But not in a selfish way; not in a way that harms others. Just do more stuff you enjoy, not stuff everyone else wants you to do. Say “No,” more to the things that drive you nuts. Say “Yes,” more to the things YOU love to do even if others don’t.
Seven: Get a genuine soul mate
Soul mates don’t have to be your husband, wife, best friend, mother, father, sister, brother or first cousin. They just have to be someone you connect with on a deep and uninhibited level emotionally.
A lot of us can’t talk openly and intimately with the people we think should be closest to us. If we can, great, if we can’t, find someone outside your loop whom you can genuinely confide in.
Eight: Give to those less fortunate
We can have a nice house, a nice job, a nice family and a secure future, yet why are we still depressed? Why do we still feel this chasm in what should be bliss?
Well, that chasm may well be filled slowly, but surely by the positive feelings that come through giving. Be it doing something far beyond giving a few coins to a beggar on a street or not turning our back on an animal in need, we can unlock a whole new sense of self-worth through simply helping other living things.
Try it, and try it soon.
Nine: Set smaller goals
Yes, you want to be rich, but it’s a ‘nothing’ concept in terms of your everyday happiness. So plan it out. How are you going to get there? How much do you have to set aside each week to feel secure? How much more do you have to earn to do that?
Make it tangible and it stops being a big, unattainable dream only other people can attain.
Ten: Stop comparing
Yes, just stop! It’s a complete waste of time and energy. We are who we are and who THEY are is of no consequence to our personal growth.
Look inside, not outside, for your inspiration and enjoy the power that gives you.