With so much uncertainty in the world, one’s mental health can take quite a toll. You might not notice it at first. It may start with a shorter temper, a loss of interest in things that you normally enjoy, or trouble sleeping. Over 300 million people around the world suffer from some form of depression, and many may not even realize it. Taking care of your mental health is vital, especially in a time of turmoil and confusion. While you may not be able to control world events, you can control how you react. Here are a few ways you can care for your own mental health:
An important part of caring for your mental health is to stay active. If you’re struggling with a lack of motivation due to depression or mental health issues, it can be difficult to even get out of bed some days. Staying active, even by just walking around your home, is important because it releases endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood and mental state. Getting your blood pumping and these healthy chemicals flowing can reduce your stress and symptoms that are related to depression and anxiety. It can also help you to get better sleep, which is another important factor in mental health that we’ll discuss later. There are plenty of great resources for exercise at home, even if you don’t have weights or other equipment.
Make sure you’re getting fresh air often as well. Even with social distancing practices, you can take a step out on your porch or walk down the street to get a change of scenery and to continue being active. Just make sure that you practice social distancing properly.
Get Good Sleep
While it’s important for your mental health that you stay active during the day, it’s equally important, if not more, that you get proper sleep at night. Sleep is the time where your brain can process information, consolidate memories, and help prepare your body for the next day.
If you’re struggling to get quality sleep here are a few things you should try:
- Adjust the light levels in your room. Make sure to shut off all overhead lights and lamps and to close your door to keep out light from other rooms. If you get a lot of filtered light through your window, consider installing blackout curtains. Low light levels will allow your body to reach a deep level of sleep that is necessary for your brain to process and reset.
- Adjust the temperature in your room. You may think that a warm room will help you to sleep more soundly, but the opposite is actually true. As you start to fall asleep, your body decreases its temperature. So the ideal room temperature to help this process is actually between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is higher or lower than that range, it could cause restlessness.
- Limit consumption of certain liquids and foods too soon before bedtime. Alcohol and caffeine before bed will keep your brain from entering deep levels of sleep which are important to help your mind and body reset for the next day. Eating big meals before bed can also negatively affect your sleep quality.
Along with staying active, it’s important for your mental health that you eat a well rounded, healthy diet. The food you eat is like fuel for your brain and without proper or sufficient fuel, it won’t work like it’s supposed to. Countless studies have shown that eating diets rich with certain vitamins and minerals can lower anxiety and depression.
This looks different for everyone. For some people, a vegetarian or vegan diet is what their body needs to function at it’s best. For others, it’s the addition of more protein or other nutrients that make a difference. If you want to change your diet, start by creating a healthy foundation of food that gets you the right vitamins and nutrients that you need. This includes the recommended servings for fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, dairy, etc. You can even try a dairy-free or gluten-free diet to see if certain food groups are causing issues for your gut health. Once you have found the right healthy diet for you, you’ll be surprised at how much a difference eating the right food can have on your mental health.
Practice Good Hygiene
One of the easiest ways to feel more productive and ready to conquer the day is to simply get ready for the day. When you’ve taken the time to get a good shower, change out of your pajamas, and start your day off right, your mood will be different. Even in times when you are staying at home, it’s important to practice basic hygiene habits. That includes bathing daily, good dental hygiene such as brushing and flossing, and especially important nowadays, washing your hands often. You were most likely taught these habits from a young age, not as a tactic for improving your mental health, but as a good habit in general. Not only will being clean and ready for the day help you to feel more prepared and productive, but these habits will also help you avoid other health problems like a cold or flu, tooth disease, and more.
It’s also important to keep the area you are living in clean. This includes washing dishes and not letting them sit in the sink too long, sweeping or vacuuming the floor to keep dirt from building up, and dusting surfaces to eliminate air contaminants. You may also consider installing an air purifier to clean the air or a dehumidifier to keep your space from getting too humid and musky. Both taking care of your own hygiene as well as the hygiene of your living area will have a great positive impact on your mental health.
Don’t Keep Your Thoughts And Feelings Bottled Up
One big mistake people often make that leads to impaired mental health is keeping their thoughts and feelings bottled inside. Whatever the feelings are, whether it’s loneliness, sadness, not feeling good enough, or anything along those lines, there is always someone there to listen to you. Letting those feelings bottle up will only lead to you feeling worse. If you talk through your feelings with someone you trust, you will not only have someone to rely on but may even find an answer to what you can do to feel better. For example, if you’re going through a divorce, talking with others who have been in a similar situation can help you to realize that your feelings are valid. There are quite a few divorce assistance groups where people who are going through the same thing can talk together and support each other. Just remember in this specific situation, while others can give you advice, always rely on a local attorney for actual legal advice and actions.
If you don’t know anyone personally that you feel comfortable opening up to, remember all of the other resources you have. The Samaritans is a non-profit organization that has trained non-judgemental volunteers you can talk to if you’re sad, lonely, or just need someone to talk to. You can call or text (877) 870-4673 (HOPE) anytime.
Do Something That Makes You Happy
One of the number one signs of depression or poor mental health is a loss of interest in things you normally enjoy. If you find this happening to yourself, it’s the time to act. It’s important to have hobbies and activities that you enjoy not only for fun but also to relieve stress throughout the day. It can often feel like there’s no time for fun, especially on a busy day. But with uncertainty in the world, it’s important to make time to step away from the stress and allow yourself some fun. If you’re interested in boats, spend some time looking through a boat dealers site, if not for potential purchases, just to window shop. The same goes for a motorcycle enthusiast, you’ll be surprised at how much fun scrolling through a motorcycle dealers site can be. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the news and media, spend some screen-free time with family playing games or cooking dinner together. If you need some time to yourself, go for a walk in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery around you. Whatever makes you happy, do it. The important thing is to make time and not let your mental health suffer.
Learn Something New
A great way to distract yourself if you’re feeling stress or anxiety is to learn something new. Distracting your mind by focusing on something new may just be enough to get you out of a negative funk. If you’re spending a lot of time at home, you could consider taking a programming class to learn java online. This skill is not only fun but could also double as a job in the future. You could also try gardening or woodworking as a hobby that doubles as a fun activity and useful skill. The time and attention that is required to learn a new skill could be just the thing you need to help your mental health.
Part of learning new things is also learning to appreciate the talents of others. If you’re able to get out, you could support local performing arts schools in your area by attending performances. You could also visit different trade shows to appreciate and support the talent of others.
When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the things going on in your life, one of the best cures is to look outward. If you’re having a hard time, there are certainly others who are also struggling. The worst thing is to feel alone during your struggles, and if you’re feeling that, you can relate to other’s pain. Look for service opportunities around yourself. You may consider sending a gift or package of goodies to a family member far away. Even a call or text to let someone know you’re thinking of them could mean a lot to someone. You could even try an old school practice of having a penpal in another country. If you’re thinking of sending something internationally, work with parcel pricing expertsto find the best deal for your delivery.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
The final step you should always take when caring for your mental health is to cut yourself some slack. Suffering from depression, anxiety, or loneliness can be exhausting. You may often feel like nothing you are doing is helping. Remember that what may work for other’s mental health may be different for you. Give yourself some grace and find what helps you, then do it.
Remember also that you can’t always be in control of everything. When things start to feel overwhelming, take some time to separate the things you can control from the things you can’t. Then focus on the things in your power. When you focus on the things that are doable, you’ll find some relief in having power over certain elements of your life.
Mental health looks different for everyone. What’s not different is that it is equally important for everyone to care for their mental health. Sometimes you just need to put down that phone, shut off the news, and focus on the here and now. Regardless of the uncertainty in the world, make sure that you’re applying these tips and anything else that helps you to have good mental health.