Strengthening Our Mental Health: Lessons for Moving Forward

The pandemic served up a “perfect storm” of circumstances that challenged our collective mental health. The good news is we’ve all learned a lot about how to nurture our mental health in order to weather the storms of life. The following practices will help you stay mentally strong and resilient when you encounter a future stressful event.

Remember, taking care of your mental health today and EVERY day continues to be extremely important.

7 Simple Tips for Maintaining Mental Health that You Can Start Right Now!

Stay Connected.

It can be tempting to withdraw from those around us when we’re struggling with mental health.  However, isolating negatively impacts both your mental and physical health. Make the effort to find creative ways to connect with family and friends on a daily basis. Morning meet-ups for coffee, sharing lunch at the park or evening walks around the neighborhood are all great ways to keep close with those you care about.

Eat Healthy.

Ever hear the term ‘You are what you eat’? It’s true–food impacts our mood. The term “hangry” (hungry + angry) was coined because of the negative impact hunger has upon our level of irritability. A diet high in sugar, fat and caffeine can lead to crashing or making us feel sluggish and burned out without the energy needed to make it through the day. However, a diet comprised of primarily whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, and lean meats positively influences our mental health (not to mention physical health). Studies show that this type of diet can even reduce symptoms of depression.

Stay Hydrated.

Our body is 75% water, making water essential for our body to function appropriately. Even mild dehydration impacts both our mood and our ability to remain alert. Substituting water for soda or other sugary drinks helps maintain your mental and physical health.

Contribute to a Greater Good.

Contributing to the world around us in positive ways has a positive impact upon our mood. Take a moment to think about the people you know. Simple acts of kindness, such as asking loved ones they need anything from the grocery store or sending an unexpected uplifting message encourages them, and positively impacts your own mental health.

Moderate Your News Intake.

While it is important to stay apprised of current events, watching too much news isn’t good for your mental health. In particular, the repetitive nature of news reports has been shown to negatively impact mental health. Make it a habit to limit your news consumption to once or twice a day, and consider reading instead of watching whatever news source you utilize.

Integrate Faith.

Faith provides hope and purpose, especially in the midst of difficult times. Participating in a faith community provides structure and a group of people to connect with who share similar beliefs. Integrating faith and participation in a faith community into one’s life on a regular basis has been shown to reduce suicide rates, alcoholism and substance use. Work to creatively connect with your faith community on a regular basis.

Seek Help When You Need It.

Feeling stressed is perfectly normal! However, ongoing stress impacts the body and can easily begin to negatively impact mental health. If you find yourself feeling depressed or anxious in ways that are negatively impacting your quality of life, seek assistance.

It is easy to put this off by telling yourself, “It’s not that bad.” While this is tempting, it is better to address the thoughts and behavior patterns associated with mental health issues before they have a chance to become ingrained. Seeking assistance early makes it easier to make changes and break patterns so you feel better faster.

Consider talking with your primary care provider or scheduling an initial appointment with a counselor to investigate with a professional whether ongoing care might be useful.

Investing in yourself is critical. Don’t put this off! Pick one thing from the list above that you can begin doing today to take care of your mental health.

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