5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
It's that time of the year when deadlines are fast approaching, and everything needed to be done by yesterday. The sun is setting earlier, and there's less daylight. You might notice changes in your mood or having a shorter temper with your close ones. You might have little interest or pleasure in doing things or feelings of depression/hopelessness. Depression can show up as difficulty with concentration, staying asleep or sleeping too much, feeling tired and having little energy, poor appetite or overeating. Depression has many faces, and you can never guess what someone is going through just by looking at them.
Good news - There is Help! Now, if you are having feelings of harming yourself or in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. The Suicide and Crisis Line is a valuable tool and can be reached by dialing 988
Tip #1 - Get Fresh Air
Step away. Connect with nature. Let the fresh crisp air go deep into your lungs. Be Present. If you're open to it, try some grounding or Earthing. Take your shoes & socks off, and plant them in a patch of grass or sand (mud..? dirt..? whatever floats your boat!). Studies have shown that cortisol levels decrease after grounding.
Tip #2 - Walk It Out
If you have children, you might be able to relate to this and see the direct effects. When children experience big emotions, it can be recommended to shake it out or add movement to help with their excited emotional state. Similarly, with anxiety and depression, adding exercise, even if it is walking, has benefits. If exercising is daunting, and you don't know where to start, just walk it out. Studies show mental health benefits even with low-intensity exercising.
"Taking care of your mental health is an act of self love"
Tip #3 - Put Away Electronics
From working and staring at a screen all day to mindlessly scrolling social media at bedtime. Our brain does not get downtime from constant data. There are times where we simply cannot turn the screen off, but when you're home, have everyone put their phones in one area and dedicate certain hours to connecting with each other. Challenge yourself to put the phone away as soon as you're in bed - no scrolling, no staying up until the wee hours of the morning. Try this for a week and see if your sleep quality and mood regulation improves. The bed should be for two things - sleep & sex.
Tip #4 - Reach Out to Loved Ones
Connect with others. It's OK to not be OK. If comfortable, hug a loved one; two-legged or 4-legged friends can provide equal benefits. Morning cortisol levels decrease the following day after hugging others. So, don't underestimate the power of an embrace!
Tip #5 - Breathe
Countless studies on meditation and breath-work. Breath-work has been shown to decrease heart-rate variability, as well! New to breath-work and meditation? Try box breathing. You can even teach young ones and wind down before bedtime with box breathing.
You are not alone. There is help!
Lastly, if you're struggling with mental health, please seek the help of a professional. There is nothing wrong with being on medications, which can be temporary or permanent. It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit when something is wrong and you do not feel like yourself. Life changes, season changes, hormones can all influence our mental health. Talk therapy, behaviour counseling, and medications, such as Lexapro, Sertraline, Buspirone, to name a few, can help.
According to National Alliance on Mental Health:
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness each year
1 in 20 U.S adults experiences serious mental illness each year
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people age 10-14.
Let me ask you, what is holding you back from getting the care you need?