Mental health is something that affects every last one of us, continuing to be a topic that we strive to destigmatise and raise awareness for every day. The mind is a powerful part of the body that shapes how we see, feel, and interpret every experience in our lives. It has the power to build or break us, so we must take proper care of our mental health, making it one of our top priorities.
Read on to learn 10 useful tips for taking care of your mental health as we continue to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of our minds and fighting depression, stress, loneliness, and isolation.
Useful Mental Health Tips and Ways to Practice Self-Care in our Daily Lives
1. Give Yourself Grace
It’s true what they say—We are our own worst critics. Constant self-criticism, however, can take a toll on your mental health and is more destructive than helpful. Remember that nobody is perfect, so give yourself the grace and credit you deserve. Take time every day to recognise the positive attributes that make you the unique individual that you are, as well as the accomplishments you’re proud of, whether big or small. By aiming for progress rather than perfection, you are able to set attainable goals that allow you to appreciate who you are and what you are capable of.
2. Make Time for the Things That Make You Happy
Part of maintaining good mental health is setting aside time for yourself and the things in life that make you happy. Much like the way that you dedicate time to your loved ones, encouraging them to pursue their own happiness, you must do the same for yourself. If you enjoy being in nature, go for a short stroll around the lake. Watch an episode of your favourite show, bake a pie, soak in a relaxing bubble bath, or paint—Whatever it is that makes you happy, make a little time for yourself every day to the things you love.
3. Practice Positivity
It is easy to focus on the negative, rather than looking at the positive, especially when you get caught up in overwhelming emotions such as anger or sadness. However, dwelling too much on the grim bits of your life can cause you to be consumed by negativity, missing out on all of the positive parts. Contrary to what some people may think, being positive doesn’t mean plastering a fake smile on your face and morphing reality into a fairytale. Being positive simply means adjusting your perspective on reality by focusing on the positive side, instead of the negative. Whenever you find yourself bombarded with negative thoughts or emotions, take a moment to challenge them by shifting your point of view of the situation to a more positive outlook.
An Example of Countering Negative Thoughts:
Situation: You are moving to a new city.
Negative Thought: “I hate moving. I don’t know anyone there. I’ll have to start everything all over again.”
Positive Thought: “This move is an opportunity for me to meet new people and make new friends. I will get a fresh start and gain a lot of new experiences.”
4. Don’t Overload Yourself
It’s easy to overload yourself with too many commitments because oftentimes, saying “yes” to a person seems less problematic than saying “no.” However, taking on too many tasks can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and irritable, only leading to burnout. Instead of taking on a million tasks, commit to a few that you can reasonably handle without neglecting yourself.
5. Remember to Rest and Recharge
In order to be healthy both mentally and physically, it is essential that you give your body and mind the proper rest it needs to recharge. Without the necessary rest and recharging that your body needs, your overall health will suffer, leaving you feeling drained and irritable. This means that you must make sure that you are getting enough sleep, as well as setting aside time to rest and take breaks mentally.
6. Recognise the Things That You Can’t Control and Let Them Go
Although it is frustrating, there are some things in our life that we have absolutely no control over. This is something that we must acknowledge and accept for our own peace of mind. Rather than wasting your time and energy obsessing over the things that you can’t control, spend your time focusing on the things that you can control. This is a much more productive use of your time, as you can channel your energy towards creating positive change.
7. Nourish Your Mind by Nourishing Your Body with Food and Exercise
The mind and body are a team, so naturally, taking care of your physical health also improves your mental health. Nourishing your body with food that’s high in nutrients not only provides you with energy for the day but also helps fuel your mind. Similarly, when you exercise, your body releases chemicals known as endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in the body and reduce the perception of pain in your brain. Besides the release of endorphins, exercise is also beneficial for decreasing stress, boosting self-esteem, battling anxiety and depression, and improving sleep. Remember that taking care of your mental health also entails taking care of yourself as a whole.
8. Stay Connected with Others—Don’t Isolate
When we go through a stressful or difficult time, sometimes isolating ourselves from others can feel like the right thing to do, especially when we don’t want to “burden” others with our problems. However, isolation from others only allows you to be completely consumed by negativity. Humans are social creatures that crave connection, so isolation often only makes the situation worse. Remember that we all go through tough times, and it is okay to lean on your friends and loved ones to help you get through them.
9. Make a List of What You’re Grateful For
Oftentimes in life, we get so caught up in what we don’t have that, rather than being grateful for what we do have. Whenever you feel consumed by negativity, take a minute to make a list of all of the things you are grateful for. Do you have access to food? Clothes on your back? A bed to sleep in? People that love you? Our lives may not be perfect or even close, but there are countless things in life to be grateful for if you take the time to notice them.
10. Ask for Help When You Need It—You’re Not Alone
Remember that we are all only human—All of us need help once in a while, and this is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need, whether that means talking to a therapist or a trusted family member or friend. You are a person with value and purpose in this world, and there is always someone out there that cares about you and what you’re going through. You are not alone, and you can do this.
If you feel that you or someone you love is in danger or in need of professional help, please click here to utilise mental health services in South Africa.