It’s easy to underestimate the importance of mental health. Millions of Americans live with mental health challenges but many healthcare and insurance providers focus more on physical health instead of mental needs.
Thankfully, the conversation around mental health is changing. The government and advocacy organizations are working to destigmatize mental health conditions and provide more resources that everyone can utilize to live better lives.
If you want to explore how to make mental health a priority, try these five tips.
Journaling is a great way to express your thoughts and feelings and can help you identify positive and negative thinking patterns. There are many ways to journal out there, from keeping a traditional or bullet journal to drawing or creating collages on each page. Here are some popular ways to journal for your mental health
If you want to live life with a more positive mindset, consider this type of journaling. Everyday, write down a few reasons you are grateful. They could be nice experiences you had that day or just waking up and doing your best.
Overtime, this can retrain your mindset to think more positively in the moment. If you struggle to remember positive things in the evening, consider taking a small journal with you through your activities and writing down your grateful moments as soon as you think of them. You can then reflect on them at the end of the day.
If you want to write but are unsure where to start, prompt journaling is a great place to start. There are many online areas filled with suggested questions or topics to write about each day. Choose a prompt that you enjoy and write about that. Answering questions or describing experiences can help you gain confidence writing about yourself.
With prompts, you might even get to explore topics you wouldn’t think of on your own, learning about yourself along the way.
There are no rules for mind dumping. Just spend some time writing down whatever comes into your head. By getting thoughts, feelings and ideas on paper, you can release yourself from stress and get to know how you think. Seeing your thoughts in front of you can help you set goals for improvement and appreciate how unique you are.
Meditation is an excellent practice for maintaining both your mental and spiritual health. There are many resources out there that can help you learn meditation techniques that can help you process your thoughts and emotions.
It is a mindfulness practice that you can make part of your routine. In just a few minutes you can center yourself for the day or night ahead.
There are a few things that can help you meditate.
- A Calm Space- People with experience can meditate almost anywhere, but it helps to be in a quiet and calm environment.
- The Right Position – You can meditate in any position, but training your body to meditate in one position can make learning easier. Try sitting up with your legs crossed or in a chair with your legs hanging down.
- Breathing Techniques – Deep breathing is a meditation staple. Mindful breathing can help you calm your mind and body.
Focus on Physical Health
Your physical health plays a part in maintaining your mental health. If you don’t feel well, it’s harder to be positive and small issues seem magnified. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly reduces levels of stress hormones, helping you live a happier life.
There is a reason that many mental health professionals recommend exercise as part of a treatment regimen. Moving your body releases feel-good endorphins in your brain which helps you feel able to take on the world around you.
You don’t have to take on a boring diet or exercise routine in order to reap these benefits. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a great way to start changing your diet, gradually introducing more healthy food over time. Embracing spices and new flavors can help you keep a tasty, varied diet.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym every day. Playing with your kids and pets, going for a walk or investing in under-desk equipment can help you.
Spend Time in Nature
Nature can have an incredible effect on your mental health. Spending time in the fresh air and natural elements can calm symptoms of many mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
Spending fewer than 20 minutes around living plants can unleash feel-good hormones that give you a mental boost. Being on a beach or in a forest provides a great sensory experience that can help you practice mindfulness. Focus on the things you can see, hear, smell and touch to release your mind from worry and focus on the moment your mind and body is experiencing.
A safe spot outside can also be an excellent spot for meditation, with the light and smells having a calming effect that can help you center your mind.
The natural light you experience outdoors has its own benefits. Research shows that being in sunlight can have a powerful effect on mood and overall well-being. Just ensure you wear proper sun protection to avoid any adverse effects from the sun’s rays.
Talk to Someone
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and you shouldn’t hesitate to talk to someone if you feel like it is not at its best. Just like a physical check-up, a mental health “check-in” helps you stay healthy.
Therapists, psychologists and counselors dedicate their lives to helping others improve their mental health. Talk to your insurance and look at databases to see who might be the right fit for you. Many areas also have free or low-cost services so everyone can move towards better mental health.
Making Mental Health a Priority
It’s important to prioritize your mental health. When you feel good mentally, it impacts all other aspects of your life. With these tips, you can improve your mood and overall well-being to take on this year.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do many healthcare and insurance providers focus more on physical health than mental health?
Many healthcare and insurance providers focus more on physical health than mental health because mental health challenges are still stigmatized and not prioritized as much as physical health.
What are some ways to journal for mental health?
There are many ways to journal for mental health, including gratitude journaling, prompt journaling, and mind dumping. Gratitude journaling involves writing down a few reasons you are grateful every day, while prompt journaling involves writing about suggested topics or questions. Mind dumping is simply writing down whatever comes to your mind.
How can meditation help with mental health?
Meditation can help with mental health by providing a mindfulness practice that can help you process your thoughts and emotions. It can also help you center yourself for the day or night ahead, calm your mind and body, and reduce stress hormones. You can make meditation part of your routine by finding a calm space, choosing the right position, and practicing breathing techniques.
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.