While attaining an ideal of being healthy in any scenario is good, it is often too broad to think about all at once. Just like someone trying to attain better physical health can’t expect to overhaul their eating, exercise, water consumption, and sleep all at once and have instant health, the same is true for mental health and well-being.
As you consider your mental health, you don’t have to change everything at once. In fact, small changes often feel more manageable, especially if you are already struggling. Moving toward the mental health and well-being you long for can happen as you implement small things over time.
Why your mental health matters.
Mental health is about more than feeling good or the absence of struggles. Your mental health impacts many areas of your life.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. – CDC
While some people use mental health and mental illness interchangeably, they are not the same. Mental illness is a medical diagnosis that requires professional medical help. Mental health encompasses more of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being as they work together.
Your mental health matters for a variety of reasons. Some of the most important are:
- Overall Well-being
- Effects on Physical Health
- Connection and Community
- Coping Skills
- Healthy Relationships
As you understand your mental health and its importance, you can begin to make it a priority in your life.
Simple ways you can prioritize your overall mental health.
Improving your mental health does not need to be overwhelming. You can put small things in place that build over time to foster a healthier mental state and improve your well-being. As you consider these ideas, remember, the key is small, simple changes. If you try to implement all these things at once, you may find yourself feeling more frustrated than when you began.
Instead, look through these suggestions. Consider which ones pique your interest. Think about how you could implement them in small ways. Be realistic about your life and what you are willing to try. As you put one or two suggestions in place, keep doing them so they become part of your life. Then you can try adding another.
If something doesn’t feel like it’s working, there may be two common reasons. First, you may not have given it enough time. Implementing these things once or twice won’t magically change everything, just like one healthy meal or walk doesn’t change someone’s physical appearance. These need to be tried consistently over time. Typically, a few weeks will give you an idea of how they are working.
Second, it may not be something that resonates with you. If you’ve tried a strategy consistently for a few weeks, it may not be a good fit for you right now. It’s okay to put it aside and try something else. Give yourself a chance to see if a new strategy is more effective for you. You don’t need to dismiss what didn’t work completely. You can simply put it aside and come back to it another time.
As much as it would be great to have a magic formula for mental health and wellness, there is no such thing. But you can find what works for you. Here are some simple things you can try:
Time outdoors in the fresh air is helpful for your well-being. The sun (even on a cloudy day), green spaces, and fresh air are all good for you. “Studies have shown that being in nature can restore and strengthen our mental capacities, increasing focus and attention.” (Andrew Avitt)
Put down your phone.
This doesn’t mean you can’t use your phone, but taking intentional breaks from your phone is important for your health. While a phone gives the illusion of connection, it often keeps us from connecting with people in real life. A break gives your mind time to rest and encourages the connections you truly need.
Drink water.Water is an important part of physical health that supports mental health. It also is essential for proper brain functioning which promotes wellness.
Create a bedtime routine.
Like water, rest is a key element to physical health and healthy brain function. Creating a bedtime routine promotes quality sleep so your body and mind can get the rest it needs.
Even a simple journaling habit helps your mental health because it provides space for your to express your feelings. It also allows you a judgment-free place to get all of your ideas out so they are not swirling endlessly in your mind.
Take a walk.
Walking regularly is a great way to increase blood flow in your body and your brain. This directly helps your stress response. People who walk also can have the benefit of being outdoors, benefiting from those positive effects as well.
Eat less sugar.
Sugar consumption has been linked to a variety of mental health disorders such as depression as well as cause physical problems like diabetes. Consuming less sugar supports better overall health.
Intentionally choosing gratitude helps your overall mood and teaches your brain to have a more positive outlook on life.
Meditate on truth. Taking time to meditate on the Word of God is essential for optimum wellness and mental health. As you focus on scripture, God works in you to increase your faith and remind you of your value.
Be kind to yourself.
Decide to treat yourself with kindness. When you are kind to yourself, you are more content, able to grow, and happier.
Deep breathing can have a powerful effect on how you feel. Learn to breathe deeply, both as a meditative practice and throughout the day to feel your best.
Talk to a therapist.
Talking to a therapist can help you process any areas of struggle and implement these strategies more effectively in your life.
Finding support for your journey.
You do not need to improve your mental health on your own. It often works better if you include people in the process. You can choose trustworthy friends, family members, or people within a church community to help you foster these things in your daily life.
A Christian counselor is also an excellent resource on your journey. The counselors in our offices are trained to help you navigate mental health and wellness in ways that work for your life. Counselors can also support you with any issues that may be obstacles to your overall wellness. This could include stress at home, work, or in relationships. They can even help with things that may be from your past.
Working with a counselor does not need to be intimidating. Instead, it is simply one of the things you do to create a mentally healthy lifestyle. The counselors in our office would be happy to talk with you, support you, and pray with you on your journey to living a mentally healthy life.
Connect with us today by calling to set up an appointment. We look forward to helping you discover the wellness you deserve.
“About Mental Health,” Centers for Disease Control. Website: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.html
Avitt, Andrew. “The Wellness Benefits of the Outdoors,” US Department of Agriculture. March 2021: https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/wellness-benefits-great-outdoors.
Little House Studio: https://www.instagram.com/p/CdjTn9Julu-/
“Above the Clouds”, Courtesy of Ian Stauffer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Surf”, Courtesy of Joel Vodell, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Worry Less”, Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Under Pressure”, Courtesy of Jeshoots.com, Unsplash.com, CC0 License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this article are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please contact one of our counselors for further information.