Simple but Effective Habits to Improve Mental Health and Well-Being in 2022
- Mandy Sandhu
- 17 Jan 2022
There’s a lot of hype about how we should focus on mental health to achieve a happy, well-balanced life. And while we can’t stress enough how true that is, the thing is, we sometimes get so caught up in the big picture that we forget it’s the little things that will bring us there.
So what can you do to improve your mental wellness? The answer isn’t always as grand as we think it would be.
3 Simple Habits to Improve Mental Health
Forming simple habits like the ones below go a long way in helping you improve your emotional health. They may look simple, but what seems small and insignificant usually has the most significant impact.
1. Exercise Regularly
It doesn’t have to be strenuous, structured, or long to be effective. Any form of exercise that gets your heart rate up will do.
However, experts recommend that adults should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate physical activity or one hour and 25 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week.
But what does physical exercise have to do with mental health? According to science, a lot.
Studies say exercising pumps blood to the brain, helping you think more clearly. It also releases endorphins and serotonin, two chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the body.
If you’ve ever heard people describe the feeling that follows a good run or workout as “euphoric,” that’s because of endorphins. That euphoric feeling, also called “runner’s high,” helps you get a more positive outlook on life.
Exercising has many other benefits: it improves memory, protects your brain against injury and diseases, acts as a sedative, improves mood, and diminishes our perception of pain, isolation, and loneliness. Indeed, research has proven that people who exercise regularly have better mental health.
Try these exercises to improve mental health and well-being:
- Running or walking helps control stress and boost your ability to deal with mental tension.
- Boxing releases stress and anger, which can be empowering and healing at the same time. It allows you to focus on the “now” and lets you temporarily switch off from the outside world.
- Yoga creates mental clarity by incorporating meditation and breathing with slow, mindful body movements.
2. Get Enough Sleep
Saying you “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” when you’re in a bad mood isn’t just a baseless colloquial saying. According to science, there’s a connection between sleep (or the lack thereof) and mood.
Evidence suggests sleep resets the brain’s activity to prepare us for emotional and mental challenges the next day. Without sufficient sleep, you become more susceptible to depression, anxiety, irritability, and poor cognitive performance.
Lack of sleep is also tied to risks of suicidal ideas and behaviours.
We understand it’s not easy to simply fall asleep once you’ve formed the habit of worrying and ruminating in bed. But with time, energy, and sometimes a painful struggle, it can be done. Just remember to:
- Limit the use of stimulants like nicotine and caffeine before bedtime.
- Don’t go to bed if you’re not drowsy and ready to sleep. Otherwise, there’s a tendency you’ll force yourself to sleep and ultimately associate restlessness with going to sleep.
- Don’t drink a lot of liquid before going to bed. This will minimize the chances of waking in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.
- Avoid using electronic devices at night. The light from mobile phones and computers can be overstimulating and keep you awake.
- Establish a consistent sleep-wake cycle. Practice sleeping at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. The more predictable your sleep-wake time is, the more your mind will be trained to follow that schedule.
- Exercise regularly. There’s solid evidence that exercising helps you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.
Strong mental health sits on top of the foundation of physical fitness. And just like exercise, getting sufficient sleep is crucial in feeling mentally strong.
3. Find a Relaxation Technique That Works for You
People telling you to “just relax” can be annoying at times. After all, it’s easier said than done if they’re not the one who’s stressed out.
Although stress is a natural part of life, letting it wreak havoc in your mind can be detrimental to your mental health. If there are several things on your mind all at once and it’s getting too noisy to think clearly, it’s time to step back a little by relaxing.
- Deep breathing sends a signal to your brain, telling it to calm down. Take slow, deep breaths pushing your belly out as you breathe in through your nose.
Breathe out through pursed lips, allowing your belly to go in as you push all the air out. Repeat this three to ten times.
- Progressive relaxation involves tensing each muscle group for five seconds and relaxing them for 10 to 20 seconds before moving on to the next muscle group.
- Guided imagery is a relaxation technique that involves imagining experiences, scenes, and places that soothe you. This is especially helpful when your mind is overloaded with negative thoughts.
Other Relaxing Activities To Improve Mental Health
If keeping still doesn’t help you relax, try active relaxation instead. Pilates, gentle stretching, walking, and similar activities can give your mind a break so you can refocus.
Strengthen Your Mental Health With the Right Program
Poor mental health is often one of the major contributing factors to addiction. It can lead to alcohol and substance abuse—or it can make people with substance abuse disorder suffer from distorted thinking and behaviours.
Freedom From Addiction understands the importance of keeping your mental health in check. That’s why we offer a wide range of programs designed to address and help clients cope with mental health issues so they don’t turn to alcohol or drugs as a solution.
While our list of habits to improve mental health is a great primary resource, it shouldn’t substitute professional help. If you still find yourself struggling, get in touch with us for more information about how our programs can help you. Remember: you don’t have to go through the journey towards better mental health all alone.
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