5 Essential Steps for Sustained Mental Health & Wellness – NAMI CCNS – Chicagoland Mental Health
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5 Essential Steps for Sustained Mental Health & Wellness

While keeping in good physical shape is important for self-care, it is also important to take care of your mental health and wellness. The pace and stresses of modern life can take their toll on both your mind and body. As with physical health, your overall mental health can suffer if you do not take care of it. Here are five ways that you can sustain or even improve your mental health.

Improve Your Diet

Food may not be the first thing you think about when you consider mental health, but food choices can have important effects on your mental state. Food & Mood Centre describes how your brain requires a great deal of energy and water to function at its best. Healthy food is the best food for your brain, helping you stay sharp and focused. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day. Sometimes a drink of cold water is all you need to get a burst of energy when you are feeling low.

Get Better Sleep

Getting adequate sleep is also essential to mental health. Although some aspects of sleep are still a mystery, researchers now know that the brain uses rest periods to form new neural connections. This is part of the reason that you might go to sleep with a problem and wake up with a solution. Chirp explains that the position you sleep in can also affect the quality of your sleep. For back health and improved mental clarity, you want to adapt the position where you feel most comfortable so that your head, neck, and spine are aligned.

Stay Curious

One of the best ways to improve your mental health is by learning something new. As you age, learning new skills and ideas is the way to keep your mind flexible. Learning can challenge your assumptions or can take your life in new directions. Pursuing a new topic can also help you develop a sense of passion and can act as a channel for your mental energy. You can study a language, learn to play an instrument, or even research a topic that interests or excites you.  

Be Mindful

A good deal of your stress is caused by your brain’s habit of focusing on and replaying your thoughts. It is not enough to worry about an unpaid bill one time. Your brain will keep firing that thought throughout your day. Pocket Mindfulness suggests that with mindfulness practices, you learn that thoughts are just thoughts. You can notice them and allow them to pass. This will help you be calmer and more centered.  Also, a great practice is to take care of that parking ticket, taxes due or lingering apology.  Any mental energy spent on these types of things pulls us away from being peaceful and being with the people we love!

Talk to Others

Human beings are meant to be social animals, but more and more people are finding themselves spending time alone. For mental health, it is important to make connections and to cultivate them. Even the most introverted person needs a social connection. Studies have shown “loneliness” and “aloneness” have the same impact on mental and physical health.

Many investigators have found social isolation itself to be a risk factor for ill health. In a meta-analysis of studies examining the magnitude of effect of social isolation and loneliness on mortality in which important baseline health variables were controlled in the analysis, Holt-Lunstad and colleagues (2015) found a 29% increased risk of mortality over time from social isolation and 26% increase in mortality risk from loneliness. Interestingly, they found a 32% increased risk from just living alone, independent of social isolation. That is, they found no correlation of objective versus subjective social isolation. This finding is counter-intuitive, in that we would think that the stress of loneliness would be a driving factor for ill health; yet “aloneness” seems to be at least as strong, if not a stronger influence on health. Steptoe et al. (2013)

As you talk to a friend or a trusted counselor, it can help you to work through difficult ideas or emotions. You will also learn to be an empathetic friend.

Your mental health is very important to your well-being. Mental health issues can cause stresses on your family life, social life, and career. You cannot escape stress and difficulties, but you can learn to live through them with hope and real peace.

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