Mental health is something many people take for granted, but to truly take care of yourself, you need effective strategies that focus on your mental health, just like you have strategies to keep your body in good health.
If you’re living with a mental health condition, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIH), 31.1 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Stress Impacts Your Wellbeing
Stress can also have an impact on your mental wellbeing. The American Institute of Stress reports that as many as 77% of Americans experience physical complications as a result of stress, including high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, and skin conditions. In addition, approximately 73% of people in the country experience psychological complications, such as anxiety and depression.
7 Tips to Manage Stress and Improve Your Mental Wellness
Try A Few Stress Relief Techniques
Make it a priority to implement effective stress management techniques into your life. For example, deep breathing exercises only take about five minutes and have been shown to provide a positive effect on stress.
Mindfulness meditation is another technique you can try. It not only helps you cope better with your stress but may also help to reduce levels of stress hormones, which can increase your risk for health problems like high blood pressure. You can find mindfulness meditation classes at local yoga studios and community centers. There are also online mindfulness tutorials and apps that guide you through the practice. The best thing about mindfulness is that you can practice this relaxation technique anywhere, at any time. There’s no special equipment needed and you can do it on your own or with others.
Video: What is Mindfulness?
Set Realistic Goals
People tend to be unrealistic when setting goals for themselves, which can increase their stress levels. Unrealistic goals can even lead to problems such as a lack of self-confidence, if you continuously fail to reach your goals. Instead, be realistic – set a range of goals that you know you can achieve today, this month, and within the next few years. There are many different tools that can help you with goal setting. It’s also helpful to revisit your goals every six to 12 months to check your progress and make sure the goals still make sense for you.
Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes When You’re Stressed
Alcohol is a depressant and the use of alcohol when you’re under stress may increase your stress levels. Research studies also show that alcohol negatively affects cognitive performance, reducing concentration and even causing temporary memory loss. And smoking not only affects your body, it has also been linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Volunteering offers a good way to contribute to your local community and help others while increasing your self-confidence and positive feelings about yourself. It can also give you the chance to meet a couple of new friends and socialize, which is also good for reducing stress.
Get Some Exercise
Researchers have found that exercise offers a large number of benefits that have positive physical and mental effects. With moderate exercise, some people find that the symptoms of depression start to ease up and anxiety and stress become more manageable.
Make Sleep a Priority
Researchers have found that people need at least eight hours of sleep. When you do not get enough sleep, you are at risk of numerous adverse effects – many of which have to do with your mental health. Not getting enough sleep is linked to higher levels of stress, anxiety symptoms, and even depression.
Video: The Importance of Good Sleep Hygiene
7. Eat Healthy and Nutritious Meals
A lot of people don’t realize that what they eat has an effect on how they feel, psychologically speaking. Eating the right foods, which should include vegetables, fruits, protein, nuts, and other foods that are high in nutritional content, can actually help you feel less depressed and stressed and improve your mood.
Some good foods to try include:
- Whole grains, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal, which increase your serotonin levels (a hormone that boosts mood and reduces stress)
- Avocados, which contain omega-3 fatty acids and have been associated in studies lower levels of stress, anxiety, and improved concentration
- Citrus fruits and strawberries, which are rich in vitamin C and have been associated in some studies with reduced levels of anxiety
- Small amounts of dark chocolate, which reduce cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress
Chronic stress from work, home, family, and money matters tends to build up and can cause both physical and mental health problems. With the right strategies in place, however, it’s possible to reduce the effects and lead a healthier life.