Updated: May 6
A healthy mind comprises of various factors. Your mental health, your mindset, and your ego. In this article, we will cover seven ways in which you can improve your mental health, but first, let's look at what mental health is.
When we speak of mental health, we are talking about your cognitive, behavioural, and emotional wellness. So that would be what you think, how you act, and what you feel. In psychological terms, cognitive focuses on present thinking and the way that we think outrightly having an effect on our emotions, physical feelings and then these emotions then trigger certain behaviours. This is usually a repetitive cycle that can only be broken with interference. This means you have to actively and consciously step in and break the cycle.
We have put together seven ways in which you can start to improve your mental health. Please note that if you think you may suffer from a mental illness then you should speak to your doctor in the first instance. There are some mental health conditions that will require medical treatment from a doctor, they may even recommend that you speak to a professional counsellor or psychologist.
For the vast majority of us, we can proactively improve our mental health by making small but powerful changes to the way we live our lives.
1. Get Active
Our bodies are programmed for movement, it is in our DNA to be active. Regular movement throughout the day has a positive effect on your brain. In a study by UCLA, it was revealed that exercise selectively increased insulin-like growth factor, which makes it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections.
Active does not mean you have to run a marathon or do a million burpees a day, it simply means move double what you are today. If you spend all day sitting at a computer and then all evening sat in front of Netflix, then a long walk and some stretches would make a great start! Remember, double what you are doing today.
A top tip for getting active: get outside! Nature has healing properties and being exposed to it has been known to improve a person's emotional and physical health. In addition to this, get some sun on your skin and absorb the Vitamin D. The optimal time to get outside for those sunshine rays is between 10 am and 3 pm.
2. Eat Healthily
Have you ever been on a brain diet? There are special compounds in certain foods that our brain loves! Nature has provided us with food that nourishes and cares for our minds and body but are we really eating enough of them? By incorporating specific foods into your diet, you can start to improve your mental health. Have you ever noticed how a walnut looks like a brain? Well, you won't be surprised to learn that walnut is a superfood for the brain!
Some other great foods to include are leafy greens like spinach and broccoli, fatty fish that are abundant in Omega-3, berries, dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, and turmeric. If you want professional help to devise a healthy eating plan, unique to your own likes and needs then you could book a session with an ayurvedic practitioner or a nutritionist/dietician. Healthy eating is not just about weight loss, it is overall mind and body health.
3. Meditation and/or Yoga
Bringing in a daily practice of meditation and mindfulness can help to improve your mental health by reducing stress and helping you to manage your thoughts and feelings. We have a great article here that explains the difference between meditation and mindfulness that we recommend you read.
You can also incorporate some Yoga into your 'Get Active' journey. Yoga helps to increase body awareness and relieve stress. Your mental and physical health are intrinsically connected and Yoga has shown to bring the two into harmonious balance. Tai chi and qi gong are also powerful, yet gentle forms of mindful exercise that help to improve the mind-body connection.
4. Increase Social Connections
Loneliness is unhealthy. As human beings, we are wired to connect and feel like we are part of a community. When tragedy strikes, our natural reaction is to come together and help. This is a survival instinct because, at our very core, we know that we need each other to survive. Support groups and clubs that bring people together through a shared interest are so important, yet so many have drifted from their loving community.
Everything we do influences the collective consciousness of the universe. That is why we feel the need to contribute to others and in some way make their lives better and when we do this, it gives us a sense of joy and happiness. If you are denying yourself the need to contribute and be apart of a community, something bigger than you, then you will feel that in a form of unwellness within the body and mind.
5. Get a Good Night's Sleep
Being deprived of sleep affects your psychological state. You may find this contradictory, because if you are depressed, stressed or anxious then you more likely to suffer from insomnia or other sleep disorders and us recommending you improve your sleeping habits could sound like a non-starter. However, there are ways that you can improve your sleep pattern, like exercising, eating well and meditating, as mentioned above.
In addition to this, we highly recommend the following:
Ensure the room is dark and comfortable
Reduce caffeine and alcohol, especially after 3 pm
Turn your electronic devices off around 7 pm and start to wind down for the evening
Keep the room temperature between 16-18°C (60-65°F)
Listen to a guided sleep or rain app to help you drift off
Expose yourself to the sun's rays for at least 20 minutes per day.
6. Keep a Journal
Writing is a form of therapy and allows you to take thoughts and feelings from within and bring them out into the world so that you can process them in a healthy and constructive way. It helps you to identify negative thoughts and recognise emotional triggers, developing awareness to help you prioritise and control them.
Journaling does not mean you have to keep a diary of everything you do each day. In fact, there is no structure to how you do this, except to do what feels right for you! You can write in paragraphs, bullet point words that describe how you feel and what you are thinking. Perhaps you want to draw pictures? Whatever way you do it will be the right way.
7. Spiritual Wellness
We, humans, are born for a specific purpose and finding balance with mind/body/spirit is the ultimate goal of wellness. In order to feel good, we need to be creatively involved in a work that not only brings us joy but also meaning and contentment.
Being connected to something that is greater than oneself - knowing and having a set of values, principles, and beliefs that provide you with a sense of purpose and true meaning to life is what spiritual wellness is about. If you want to improve your mental health then you will also need to nurture your spiritual health too.
Start your spiritual journey to wellness here.
We also offer a Free Online Happiness Course to help you kick start your path to wellness.