Mental health conditions are becoming more prevalent in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.7 percent of adults reported feelings of depression and 11.2 percent reported feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and worry. A clinical research psychologist from Stanford University notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased mental health needs. However, the global health crisis has also restricted access to mental health treatment. Because of this, many folks around the country do not receive any treatment for common mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety disorder, substance use disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. These factors decrease feelings of mental wellness for many individuals.
During these precarious times, it is important that we become more proactive in improving our mental health. In this post, we highlight four different ways you can achieve mental wellness.
1 – Be Physically Active
Exercising can do a lot of wonders for your mental health. This is because doing physical activities releases mood-boosting chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin. A study published in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders notes that exercise also keeps various mental health illnesses such as depression and anxiety at bay. Furthermore, it can even improve the quality of life of patients suffering with schizophrenia, as the antipsychotic medication usually prescribed for such patients increases the risk for weight gain. At least thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, three times a week, can positively affect your mental health.
2 – Try Mindfulness Meditation
In today’s world that’s full of stressors and triggers, we often forget the importance of slowing down and taking in the present. Sometimes, the only way to power through the struggles that affect your mental wellness is by taking a breather and being fully aware of yourself. One effective way to do this is through mindfulness meditation. In essence, mindfulness meditation is a mental training activity that helps you calm your body and mind by slowing down your thoughts and letting go of your stressors. What’s great about mindfulness meditation is that you can do this anytime you find yourself in distress. There are a number of ways to do mindfulness meditation. In our post ‘Three Steps to Mindfulness’, we discuss how you can simply practice mindfulness meditation by paying attention to your five senses. The next time you find yourself mentally distressed, be sure to do a quick mindfulness meditation break.
3 – Seek Professional Help
Talking to a mental health professional can significantly improve your mental wellness. But as we’ve mentioned, not everyone gets to professionally address their mental health issues. Aside from the disruption caused by the pandemic on our healthcare systems, many people are afraid of seeking professional mental help as there’s still a huge stigma surrounding mental illness today. However, it is important that you consult with a mental health professional as they can give you the proper coping tools and strategies.
Thankfully, you can find mental health professionals in a variety of settings. In hospitals, you can find psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and mental health nurse practitioners who have received the right training to treat and diagnose mental health conditions. If you can’t afford professional care, you can also approach social service specialists and social workers in public institutions and community centers. Maryville University highlights how social service specialists are on the frontline in health clinics, hospitals, community centers, and schools. They are qualified to treat the overall wellbeing of their clients, including any mental health issues. Aside from providing individuals with counseling, they can also help by referring you to various assistance programs. If you can’t seem to find a concrete solution to your mental health woes, gather the courage to seek help from a professional.
4 – Spend Time With Your Loved Ones
Humans are naturally social beings. Failing to satisfy your social needs can severely affect your mental health. Professors from the University of Chicago point out that social isolation and loneliness have been linked to a variety of mental conditions. These include depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, and cognitive decline. Aside from that, social isolation can also raise your risk for physical illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Because of this, it’s important that you spend time with your loved ones to build strong and healthy relationships. Apart from the social and emotional support relationships provide, having a good social circle can also protect you against the harms of stress. So, be sure to connect with family and friends as much as you can. If you can’t see your loved ones physically, you can spend time with them online through teleconferencing programs and virtual activities.
If you want to live a full and happy life, you should aim to improve every aspect of your well-being. So, be sure to follow the tips we’ve listed above to boost your mental health.
Written by Annie Carsons