Notable events in recent years have made more of us aware of the importance of good mental health. Likewise, we see a concerted effort to improve mental health at work, at school, etc. We are striving to make mental health as important as physical health.
There are times when professional psychotherapy or counseling may be the best way to address mental health problems. And no, one does not have to be diagnosed with a mental health condition to benefit from psychotherapy. But at the same time, there are plenty of ways each of us can improve mental health without spending anything.
Here are five tips to that end:
1. Disconnect on a Regular Basis
Much of what causes stress in the modern era is related to our technology. So many of us feel compelled to always be connected. Our phones are always on, and we are constantly listening for notifications. We check social media multiple times per day. Some of us still obsess over email.
An excellent way to improve mental health is to disconnect on a regular basis. You might choose to completely disconnect at the end of every workday, not reconnecting until you get to work the following morning. Perhaps you decide to completely disconnect on weekends. Even one or two days per month is better than nothing at all.
2. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
María R. de Almeida is a licensed psychotherapist from London. She is an expert in psychosomatic illness. According to de Almeida, there is a very definite link between the mind and body. Thoughts and emotions impact physical health and vice-versa.
What is the point here? That adopting a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward improving one’s mental health. It is not necessary to become obsessive; even minor lifestyle changes can make an enormous difference.
3. Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is good for both the body and mind. In terms of the mind, exercise releases brain chemicals that ultimately help regulate mood and thought patterns. Active people who regularly exercise are less likely to suffer from excessive stress and non-clinical forms of depression and anxiety.
4. Stimulate the Mind
Next up, the mind is a lot like a muscle in the sense that it needs to be exercised or it will not remain as strong or sharp. This suggests that one can improve mental health by making an effort to stimulate the mind.
In the old days, mental stimulation was often accomplished by doing things like crossword puzzles and cryptograms. Plenty of people still enjoy those puzzles today. But now, in the mobile age, there are apps dedicated exclusively to brain games. They are designed around the concepts of neuroplasticity and brain exercise.
5. Adopt an ‘Others’ Mindset
As strange as it might sound, living life selfishly can have a negative impact on mental health. A person who is focused only on their own needs also tends to be more unhappy and dissatisfied when those needs are not met. On the other hand, people who adopt an ‘others first’ lifestyle seem to have a better outlook on life.
Doing what you can to help others offers a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Helping others also takes your mind off of your own perceived negative circumstances. Suddenly, what seemed to be a serious problem isn’t that serious at all.
Paid psychotherapy sessions are appropriate for some people in some cases. They can even be quite helpful. Yet at the same time, we all have more control over our mental health than we know.