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Updated September 1, 2017
 
 

Top 5 Ways on How to Improve Mental Health

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e must all recognize the significance and importance of maintaining our mental health. Although we are bombarded through advertisements, media, and social pressures to take care of our physical health (through diet programs, gym memberships, exercise programs, health crazes, ...), not as much emphasis is placed on addressing how to keep up with our mental health. In fact, studies are arguing that overall mental health in the United States is falling. This phenomenon is attributable to increasing work hours, competition, standard of living costs, and more.

With good mental health comes increased productivity, overall well-being, and brain function. As the World Health Organization (WHO) points out, "Mental health is an integral part of health ... there is no health without mental health." Studies conducted across the world show the myriad of ways poor mental health affects people: through increased risks for different diseases, cancers, social exclusion, risk of violence, and negative changes in overall lifestyles.

What is "Good Mental Health"

Good mental health is the state of well-being in which you realize your own abilities, can can effectively face the normal stresses of life head-on. Good mental health also means that you are able to work productively and make a positive contribution to your community.

By having good mental health, you will be a happier person, with an increased ability to form great relationships with others, express yourself, and manage both positive and negative emotions.

5 Steps to Improved Mental Health and Well-Being: Bullet Points

In order to improve mental health and boost brain function, you must be willing to:

  • Make sure to Catch Up with your Sleep
  • Keep an Eye on your Stress Levels: Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help
  • Take small Moments to Enjoy Life and Really Think about your Well-Being
  • Become Invested in Volunteer Work or a Hobby
  • Go the extra mile through Supplementation and a Good Regimen

Improving your mental health won't be easy, but it is within your control. Read below for a more in-depth understanding, and the way to go about each of the five ways listed.

Setting Effective and Realistic Goals

Setting effective and realistic goals itself is a challenge. Many people set themselves up for failure by setting over-ambitious goals for themselves. This occurs most frequently in New Year's resolutions that people formulate for themselves. A huge majority of New Year's resolutions are abandoned within the first 10 days of the new year! And when a person does fail the goal(s) he or she has set for him or herself, it has a real impact on that person's self-esteem. Thus, oftentimes resulting in a circular cycle.

In order to set effective and realistic goals, which you can track and meet, you must:

  • Set your goals immediately. Don't put it off for a special date like New Year's or your Birthday. Set them up now. Most people set up a cycle of procrastination before even having a goal!
  • Talk to your family and friends about your goals and let them know how they can help you stick to them.
  • Maintain a weekly record that shows how far you have come. This can serve as a powerful motivation tool.
  • Make sure to celebrate by treating yourself when you achieve a goal!
  • If you slip up on your goal - for example, breaking a diet is a popular one - don't be lax on yourself. Treat it as a minor setback. And make sure to get back on track immediately the following day.
  • Remember .. Don't Give Up! It will take some time to get used to any change, especially a life-style change. If you are finding it difficult, don't be afraid to reach out for support. Do everything you can to keep with it!

Good Mental Health Benefits

Invest time and effort towards ensuring good mental health, and you will enjoy a healthy life, positive well-being, and a whole range of great benefits:

  • You will feel relatively more socially confident in yourself. This is because you will be able to more effectively score yourself on reasonable and realistic standards.
  • You will be able to feel, control, and express a higher range of emotions
  • You will feel more more engaged and connected with the community surrounding you. As a result, you will also be able to maintain and grow positive relationships with others.
  • You will be able to gain an enhanced feeling for your own contribution to the community in which you live, enabling you to increase productivity in home, social, and work life
  • You will be able to cope with the stresses of daily life, be able to meet crises head-first, and more effectively manage times of uncertainty and change

1. Make Sure to Catch up with your Sleep

Sleep has a large impact on our mental health. Researchers have found that people who have less than 5 hours of sleep a night are at higher risk of mental illness. As such, you should try to sleep 8 hours a night, as too little sleep over a continuing period of time may leave you vulnerable to developing mental health problems. Even mild sleeping problems can result in detrimental affects to your mental and overall well-being.

Here are some tips and steps you can start taking to improve your sleep going forward:

  • Your sleep environment has significant value on your sleep quality. A majority of people sleep better in a dark, quiet, cool room.
  • Researchers recommend going to bed and getting up around the same time every-day. Routine can help your body's sleep-wake cycle, which actively promotes sleep quality.
  • Adding onto the previous bullet point, creating and following through on a bedtime ritual can also encourage a better night's sleep. Your ritual could be reading a book before going to bed. Researchers generally discourage interacting with TV's, cell-phones, computers, and other electronics that emit blue-lights, as they are shown to stimulate your brain, thus making it harder for you to sleep (decreases sleep quality).
  • Avoid high or sustained intake of caffeine, simple sugars, and alcohol in the evening or night, as researchers have shown these ingredients can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to reduced sleep quality

2. Keep an Eye on your Stress Levels: Don't be Afraid to Ask for Help

Everyone has periods of stress. You can help your mental health a lot by just being aware when you're becoming too stressed. If a major life event occurs or you are adding too many responsibilities (i.e. your career or job is asking more and more from you), and you feel that you are becoming stressed out, you should be open to asking others for help.

Smiling during stressful periods may lower your body's stress response, regardless of whether you're actually happy or sad ...

Don't be afraid to ask for help. The help you ask for can be as simple as hiring (or asking a friend) a baby-sitter so that you can take the night off. Or speaking with your doctor or a counsellor. No-one has a worry-free life. Those that don't take the right steps won't have good mental health.

You can also try stress-reducing exercises such as yoga and meditation. Studies have found that yoga may be particularly effective at reducing the risk of anxiety and depression.

3. Take a Moment to Enjoy Life and Really Think about your Well-Being

Take moments to enjoy life. When you feel like doing a particular activity, permit yourself to be genuine and imaginative and follow your urges. Whether it be doing puzzles, reading a book, getting ice-cream with your kids, playing with your pets - whatever makes you happy.

When I write, "Really Think about your Well-Being," I mean that you should take notice of yourself and your environment. First, you must take care of yourself. Physical and mental health are strongly tied together. By taking steps to being more active and eating healthier, you will make it easier for your brain to feel good about life. As your self-confidence will increase and your body will feel and behave healthy. You actually don't have to go to the gym to be active or exercise. You can do gardening, dancing, walking (instead of taking the car to close locations), and more. You can actually accomplish being active by picking up a hobby that requires moving about. See more in the next section.

By coupling physical activity with a balanced diet, you will nourish your body and mind.

4. Become Invested in Work, Volunteer Work, and/or a Hobby

We can all attest that work can cause stress. However, research has shown that being unemployed and at home can cause much more harm to mental health. This is because having a job is able to provide you with an identity, responsibilities, and friendships. It allows you to also have some structure, and not have to worry about paying bills. Meanwhile, unemployment often goes hand in hand with poor mental and physical health.

Going beyond just having a job, you should also try to take up volunteer work or a hobby. By volunteering for a cause that you care about, you will be able to feel good about yourself and add meaning to your life. In addition, you can rest comfortable knowing that your effort has led to improvement in the lives of others.

You can also take up a hobby. The hobby just has to be something that you really enjoy doing. You don't necessarily have to be an expert in it now. A hobby can be gardening, dancing, writing fiction, writing articles for a website (guess what my hobby is!), video games, film, or any other activity.

5. Go the Extra Mile through Supplementation and a Good Regimen

If you are trying to become more physically fit, build muscle, and/or lose weight, you would take a number of steps. If you really wanted to succeed, you would find yourself a good workout plan and make sure that you eat a diet that would allow your body to fully to recuperate, refuel, and repair every-day. That's why most people invest in vitamins, minerals, protein shakes, amino acid supplementation, and more. It is important that your hard-work is having maximum impact.

We don't directly sell any supplements on this website, but we do review them! Our mental health and brain function supplement reviews are free for anyone to access and research. See the three best cognitive enhancers for 2015.

Don't Procrastinate!

Do not procrastinate! Begin applying the five ways to improve your mental health to work for you today! It would be hard to make a sudden life style change to incorporate all the steps fully. However, if you can begin making incremental steps with even just one of the steps, that would be a day well seized! Every day that you wait to begin making healthy changes is another day spent unfocused, unhealthy, and inefficiently.

 

Read More Details About This Article

We hope this article helps you reach your intended goals.

Clinical Studies, Research, and/or Peer-Reviewed Journal Links:
See consolidated research.

This article is still being expanded. We urge you to ask questions you have in the comment section below. We will continue to update this article as new research arises.
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The Brainification Team

 
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A leading group of content writers and editors that have an understanding of health and science, with a particular interest in brain health and neuroscience.