Ever had a plan for a new year’s resolution, such as going to the gym consistently, or eating healthier, while falling through with those plans a month or so in? People don’t usually have a game plan for long-term consistency, but it is critical in managing mental health to develop a plan or routine that can be also flexible, yet consistent and adaptive to a person’s mental health needs.
Some basic tips for increasing positive mental health and well-being:
Take care of your body—by eating nutritious meals and moderately enjoying foods that may not be as “nutritious” for the body but can be satisfying to the mind. There is no need to deprive oneself of something that you like just because it is deemed “unhealthy” if it is used sparingly and moderately. Watch for foods that might trigger you to not feel so good. Notice how you feel after eating certain foods. This is a core concept of mindfulness and mindful eating. Really savor every bite, chewing thoroughly and slowly, and being grateful for the ability to enjoy the sustenance of what you are eating.
Many people seem to be able to survive on 4-6 hours of sleep; however, that might be optimal for some and not optimal for others. Every person’s body is unique and needs their own amount of sleep that can help the brain function better during the day—without sluggishness, crankiness, irritability, and the need for caffeine to sustain oneself. The recommended amount of sleep for most people; however, is around 8 hours of sleep to adequately be able to perform and function in daily tasks. People can develop maladaptive sleeping patterns, which can perpetuate negative mental health symptoms. If you’re going to bed every night at 2 a.m. and waking up at 6 or 7 a.m.—this can have a hugely negative impact on one’s mental well-being.
Consistent sleep is key for those who have mental health struggles. It is highly recommended to stay on a consistent sleep schedule, going to bed a little early and rising at a consistent time, even on the weekends. Some doctors would even say to avoid taking naps in the afternoon, due to it affecting going to sleep that night. It can interrupt the night’s sleep routine as well. If you’re suffering from insomnia (where you cannot sleep well), it might be pertinent to ask a doctor for help. There are other sleep hygiene suggestions that can make sleeping easier. Some people like to listen to soft music, but it is highly discouraged to have screen time right before bed, whether it be the phone, TV, or other electronics. Others have suggested that hot decaffeinated tea at night can help. Some others have recommended taking a long hot bath before bed with lavender essential oils. Using aromatherapy can help those that find soothing scents calming before bed.
Getting the right amount of water throughout the day can be highly beneficial as well, on even a cellular level. As a doctor once advised me, it’s not just 8 glasses of water a day that is suggested but drinking half your weight in ounces per day is the most optimal. For instance, if you weigh 140 lbs., it is recommended to drink 70 oz of water per day for optimal functioning of the cells and organs in your body.
People think “oh, I can’t meditate, I can’t even focus on what I’m supposed to be doing”. That is not the case, anyone can meditate! If you are focused on the moment, what you are doing right now, being still and breathing deeply you are meditating! If you notice your thoughts start to wander, just bring it back to what you are doing, without judgment or labeling it as a negative thing. Most everyone has difficulties with focusing on the now moments. Meditation is just being mindful of what the focus is on. Whether it be a prayer-like state, asking for the universe to guide you, or saying what you are grateful for—that is meditation! There are many types of meditations, and many can be found online, at your fingertips! YouTube has many as well, that can guide you through the process.
The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough! If you don’t breathe properly, how are you to think properly? Deep breathing into your belly, lungs and chest is considered diaphragmatic breathing. There are many other ways to deep breathing. Whether you count while you exhale in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds, and hold for 4 seconds, you are creating a better environment for your brain to think better!
Do things for you!
Value yourself by treating yourself with kindness and respect, while avoiding self-criticism. Make time for your positive outlets, hobbies, favorite objects, and broaden your horizons by learning about new things daily. Do a crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn an instrument or another language.
Give yourself to others or a good cause!
Volunteering time and energy helping others. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need.
Set realistic goals.
While you may be an overachiever, don’t be hard on yourself for setting higher than average expectations for yourself. Figure out steps you need to realize your goals, which need to be feasible and attainable. You will reap the benefits with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress towards your goals.
Break up the monotony.
By adding a little change of pace to your life, you can perk up a tedious schedule. If you’ve been jogging all week, maybe plan a road-trip, or take a walk in a different park, decorate your house/apartment/space, try a new place to eat.
If you find yourself still struggling
It may be time to take it a step further and reach out for help, if you’ve tried everything and nothing is currently working. At Clarity Family Therapy Services, we have trained therapists who can help you find better ways of positively coping and adapting to life’s sometimes rough circumstances. If you are not able to find methods that help you maintain physical and mental well-being, you might want to look up a therapist who has the knowledge, training, and information that can be beneficial to helping you get back your life and can assist you in putting the train back on its tracks.
At Clarity Family Therapy Services, we offer:
- Individual Therapy
- Couples Therapy
- Family Therapy
- Trauma Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Addiction counseling
For whatever your needs are, we are ready and willing to help. All you need to do is reach out to be connected to a therapist today!