Most of us make some sort of concessions to our physical health on a regular basis. This might mean going on a diet or just generally trying to avoid obscene amounts of chocolate, or it might mean going to the gym regularly. Either way it is generally understood that in order to good health we must live a healthy and responsible lifestyle and keep an eye on what our body wants.
When it comes to mental health though, few of us share the same attitude and it seems like most people are perfectly happy to ignore their psychological wellbeing and assume it will take care of itself. Of course this is the wrong attitude because just like your physical health, the way you live and treat yourself can have a big impact on your emotional and psychological wellbeing. Keeping this in mind can help you to avoid a range of psychological disorders and mental conditions while helping you to stay happier and more stress free. Here we will look at how you can go about improving your mental health through daily routines and lifestyle changes.
First of all it's important to recognize that your diet can have a big impact on not just your body, but also your mind. Your brain runs on energy just like your muscles, and so making sure you get enough vitamins and minerals, enough amino acids, enough fatty acids and enough hydration. Likewise it's also important to avoid the things that could damage your brain which includes excess alcohol for instance and smoking which might increase the chances of Alzheimer's or stroke.
Socializing is highly important for maintaining our mood and keeping us happy, but it's also important for our health and general wellbeing. Isolation can lead to a range of different problems including cabin fever (a restlessness that provided the inspiration for The Shining) and even Cotard's delusion – a condition in which a person believes that everyone they know has been replaced by replicas or that they're somehow dead. Seeing other people then helps you to keep perspective and stay grounded in reality, while laughing and being friendly can help with the release of many positive hormones.
Sleep is not just important for rejuvenating your body and repairing wounds, it's actually also very important for your brain. Studies suggest that our brain cements and organizes memories and ideas while sleep, and going without REM periods can lead to delusions and eventually even death.
You probably don't need to be told, but stress is not good for your mental health and can quickly lead to other mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Managing your stress is important then, so make sure you get some regular 'you' time, and if you're struggling be sure to consider reducing your commitments or taking some well-earned time off to go on holiday etc.
If you are socialising then you will be talking a bit, but it's not the same as REALLY talking and getting the chance to get things off your chest. Letting things get bottled up is a mistake and a quick way to develop anxieties or build up stress and these issues can come out in surprising ways. Make sure you have at least a few people you can talk to openly and that you make sure you spend some regular time working through your problems. If you don't have a close friend to lend an ear this might even mean hiring someone.
While we are creatures of habit at heart, doing the same thing over and over can stunt our brain development and lead to obsessive behaviour or closed mindedness. Make sure to keep giving your brain new experiences and new horizons to make sure that it keeps growing and changing and to avoid getting stuck in a rut. Got nothing new on the horizon? Why not book yourself in for next week for some off road Segway racing??
Likewise if you want to keep your mind young and agile you should make sure to keep challenging yourself and flexing those cognitive skills. Doing regular activities like crosswords and playing chess, while taking on new challenges like learning instruments and languages can help to give you greater mental dexterity and keep that wit of yours razor sharp.