It’s a brand-new year, and you’re ready for a fresh start. You’re determined to keep the resolutions you made for 2020. But the truth is, habits are hard to break…and even harder to start. In fact, it takes about 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. The good news is…once you form new healthy habits, they will be hard to break! Those new habits will become part of your lifestyle, and you won’t ever need to make a resolution again.
When you think of creating new healthy habits though, remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. These small habits, implemented each day, will boost your mood and help keep you mentally (and physically) healthy.
Healthcare professionals recommend adopting these mental health habits:
1. Eat a balanced diet
You already know that a healthy diet is good for you physically, but it also has an enormous effect on your mental. Studies have shown a link between consuming heavily processed, high-sugar foods and depression.
To improve your mental health, increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and omega fatty acids. You’ll see an improvement in your mood when you’re mindful of what you feed your body.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise is normally associated with physical health, but it is highly effective when it comes to battling depression too. It’s an all-natural treatment that, in some cases, can be as effective as medication.
Even 30 minutes a day of high-intensity cardio exercise is enough to release powerful endorphins that will boost your mood. Performing long-term-low-intensity exercises improves brain function and relieves symptoms of depression by producing neurotrophic proteins.
3. Practice meditation
There are several meditation techniques that can help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness and meditation are two practices that will give you tools to access the inner peace that is already inside you.
Combining daily mindfulness with the practice of meditation is a powerful stress management tool with many other health benefits. Join us for one of our Mindfulness Meditation sessions and discover how this practice can help you decrease stress and increase peace.
4. Get outside
It’s easy to slip into a routine of going to work, coming home, and then relaxing. But it’s critical to your mental health to get outside and enjoy nature.
Being close to nature helps you practice mindfulness, which is highly effective in reducing anxiety and stress.
Make it a priority to get outside as often as possible. Go for a walk in the park, ride your bike on a nature trail, or take a hike in the woods – the time you spend in the great outdoors will improve your mood.
5. Stay hydrated
Did you know that hydration can have a huge impact on your mental health? Since your brain is made of 75% water, the loss of hydration can seriously affect your cognitive function, mood, and concentration.
The old school of thought was that 8 glasses of water was enough for everyone. Experts now say that the amount of water you need every day depends on your body weight, as well as other factors like physical activity. Use this water intake calculator to determine exactly how much water your body needs.
6. Sleep well
Sleep is essential for a healthy brain. Sleeplessness has often been thought to be a symptom of mental illness, but recent research indicates that it may actually be a cause of mental issues. According to leading sleep scientists, deep sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy mind.
To practice good “sleep hygiene”, doctors recommend only using your bedroom for sleeping – keep your room cool and dark and stop using electronic devises before bedtime. Increase your physical activity or cut out caffeine if you still have trouble sleeping.
Take a break from social media. While it may seem like an easy way to keep up with friends and family, it can also have a negative impact on your mental health. According to recent studies, there’s a clear link between frequent use of social media and anxiety and depression.
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that teenagers are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of social media. Limit your use to an hour a day.
You can help improve your mental health when you socialize in person as often as possible.
8. Talk about it
When dealing with mental health issues, it’s important not to ignore how you’re feeling. Research shows that when feelings are suppressed, they build-up over time and can cause depression.
Open up to someone close to you about your feelings and struggles. They may be able to provide a different perspective or insight on your situation.
Many people you know can probably relate to what you’re feeling. They may have even struggled with the same issue you’re dealing with. It takes courage to open up, but when you do, you’ll find support and encouragement…and you’ll realize you’re not alone.
9. Adopt a pet
Studies have proven that physical contact with a pet releases serotonin and dopamine – two feel-good chemicals known to improve your mood. Pets have a calming effect on you and can help you fight stress and feel more connected. Taking care of them and giving them a loving home also gives you purpose and a sense of worth.
10. See a doctor
While adopting these healthy habits is a great place to start, it simply may not be enough for you. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor if you feel something is wrong.
Millions of people in America are affected by mental health issues every year. You are not alone. There is no need to suffer quietly when help is readily available.
Symptoms to look out for include persistent low mood, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, and/or thoughts of suicide. If you feel you need to talk to someone immediately, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t neglect it and fall into harmful patterns of behavior. Make a commitment this year to incorporate healthy habits that will improve your mental health as well as your physical health.
At Seton Cove, we offer programs and services to help your body, mind, and spirit. Contact us today and let us help you achieve mental and physical wholeness.