The requirements of daily adult life can take their toll on our mental and physical health more easily than we realize. Whether we’re running from work to after-school activities with no time in between, or struggling to find ways to implement healthier habits into our lifestyle that don’t require huge amounts of time, effort, or money, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle and lose our calm center.
Getting enough sleep and a healthy diet are especially difficult to manage if we feel like we’re constantly running to and from obligations and have a full schedule. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple methods to improve mental health, regain focus, and be kinder to our bodies even in the midst of a full and busy life.
Having both mentally and physically healthy habits can dramatically improve our overall well-being, and both are easy to obtain with a few simple changes.
How To Feel Better, Mentally
We’re all familiar with the phrase “It’s all in your head,” and studies show that there is some truth to this statement. Mental health is a very crucial factor in our overall quality of life and having a healthy and stable perspective on life mentally provides an important base from which we can build our mindful and wholesome physical lives.
Improving your brain’s function and your outlook on life can go a long way towards helping you feel better in all areas of your life, and by implementing a few of these simple tricks, you can begin to improve your mental health.
Improving Your Self Esteem
Much of our mental health stems from how we view ourselves in relation to others and the tasks we must accomplish every day. If you’re constantly stressed and don’t take time for yourself, it’s easy to feel down and discouraged about ourselves, which in turn makes it harder to focus and adds even more stress. Improving your self esteem is as simple as remembering to treat yourself the way you would treat a close and dear friend, in a positive yet honest way.
Notice when you’re putting yourself down in your thoughts, and if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself! Instead of telling yourself you’re stupid for not getting that job or making this or that choice, remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can, and that you’re actually a capable, bright person who will get the next job.
Managing Mental Stress
Mental stress is a huge factor in how stress plays out in and affects our body. When our minds are unhealthy, our bodies tend to be too. It’s easy to allow the tasks we must accomplish and worries as to how we’re going to accomplish them play over and over in our minds until all we can think about is how stressed we are and how much we have to get done. This can also lead to depression and constantly feeling down and overwhelmed.
In order to break the vicious cycle, it’s important to take time outs not only for our bodies, but also for our minds. Scheduling yourself some time to take a break from daily pursuits and pursue peaceful activities you enjoy can help improve focus, positivity, and improve your mental outlook by recharging your brain. Bake some bread. Take a moment to light some candles and enjoy a quiet bath. Take time out to read a chapter of a book. Catch up with a friend. Write a letter.
Taking little moments to ourselves is crucial to reinforcing our positive mental health and provides us with a respite from the daily grind, meaning we can return to these activities with renewed vigor and better productivity.
Take A Deep Breath And Focus On It
Studies have shown that meditation is one of the most beneficial ways to reset and rejuvenate your mental health. It can also help alleviate anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Simply by taking a moment to be still in a quiet place and focus on your breath while you release all the stressful and tense thoughts from your mind can provide dramatic relief and even help improve your self esteem. It doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process – taking 5 to 10 minutes out of your day in a quiet space to breathe deeply and calm your mind is a great place to start.
- Try a body scan by beginning at the top of your head and focusing on each part as you scan downward – face, shoulders, arms, torso, etc – separately, paying attention to how each part feels and just noticing, not judging or formulating any thoughts.
- Light yoga or stretching also provides great mental relief – focus on breathing into each stretch or position and shift from occupying only your mind to enjoying living and being in your body. Turn on some calm and peaceful music if that will enhance your ability to calm your mind and focus on your body.
How To Feel Better, Physically
Mental and physical health go hand in hand, and now that we’ve covered a few ways to improve your mental health, it’s time to discuss how to supplement mental self-care with the physical aspects of a wholesome lifestyle that are so crucial to our well-being and ability to function. From vitamin supplements to sunshine to exercise to diet, there are a variety of uplifting habits you can start to add to your life to keep everything in balance and feel better.
Your Diet & Your Gut
The fuel we put into our bodies plays a huge part in our overall energy levels and ability to function. Lately, we’ve even discovered that good gut health actually plays a huge part in our ability to stave off depression and poor mental health – which makes sense. Our body and mind are interconnected and if one crucial part is unhealthy, chances are it’s going to affect the function and wellbeing of the whole.
Making sure you include whole grains (although grains may be detrimental to some people), lean proteins like fish, leafy greens, fresh fruit, and limit processed foods is a great way to boost your body and your mind.
- Start to plan meals that are mostly vegetable-based and only supplement with meats and starches.
- Limit large intakes of fatty carbs, like sugary white bread and pastas, to maybe one to two days a week.
- Reduce your alcohol intake to one or two drinks per week.
- Prepare healthy snacks on an off-day that are easy to grab-and-go so that you’re not reaching for processed sugary snacks – foods like carrot sticks and hummus, grapes, or apples and peanut butter.
- Ensure you’re drinking plenty of water. Keep a large drinking glass filled with water near you at all times, and whenever you find yourself with downtime, remind yourself to take a long drink. Our bodies need water to function and do pretty much everything, and signs of dehydration usually present as fatigue, inability to focus, and headache.
- If you’re having a hard time getting enough vitamins and minerals from your diet, consider adding a few daily supplements to help give your body and mind a boost. Including Omega 3’s, Vitamin B12, and Vitamins A, K, and C in your daily life are a great place to start improving function and wellbeing.
Take Time To Be Outside
One way to ensure your life is healthy and balanced is to spend more time outside. Studies show that your overall mental and physical health improves with outdoor activities and spending time in nature.
- Your body needs the sun in order to produce Vitamin D, and being out of doors is the perfect solution. Vitamin D helps us with everything from bone and cell growth to inflammation reduction and proper immune function. About 15 – 20 min a day is all you’ll need to help kickstart this natural process in your body and boost health and mood.
- Schedule time to take a walk two or three times a week. Promise yourself that you’re going to leave the stress and thoughts of the day or week behind and practice being present as you walk, taking deep slow breaths and taking pleasure in appreciating the sights around you.
Getting Enough Rest?
Getting enough rest also plays a vastly crucial part in our mental and physical wellbeing. Having healthy sleep habits helps improve everything in our bodies from mood to mental focus and ability to function to what type of food we reach for to our heart health and proper weight maintenance. Taking the time to make sure your environment is suitable for getting enough sleep can be quick and easy.
- Start by setting a sleep schedule for yourself. Pick a reasonable time for you to begin winding down every night – brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, etc – and then stick with it. During this time, put away the screens (TV, phone) and allow your mind to focus on something relaxing for a bit before attempting to simply go to sleep. Read a book chapter or flip through a magazine, or spend some time journaling. Once you’ve allowed your mind to relax and free itself from the circumstances of the day and the tasks of tomorrow, it will be much easier to fall into a deep and restful sleep.
- Give yourself a caffeine cut-off. Consuming too much caffeine, whether in the form of coffee or sugary sodas, too late in the day can prevent you from being able to stick to your wind-down time and keep you up thinking about everything you need to do the next day.
- Make your bedroom more conducive to a good night’s rest. Too much light in your room delays you body’s production of melatonin, which can prevent restful sleep and make you groggy and grumpy the next day. Install thick curtains, or wear a sleep mask. If your neighborhood or area tends to be noisy, get a white noise machine or app that can help block sounds that might keep you awake. If you have a TV in your room, consider covering it up each night or moving it to another room entirely.
- In addition to providing a little meditation boost throughout the day, a body scan at night in bed can help soothe you to sleep. Practice gently focusing on and then relaxing each section of your body fully before moving on the next one.
Feeling better mentally and physically isn’t impossible or out of reach. By merely implementing a few of these practices a day, you can vastly improve your mood, your sense of wellbeing, and your mental and physical health.
Whether you’re trying to gain more mental stability and feel better about yourself, or enhance your physical health with natural methods for better performance and productivity, a few beneficial habits are easy to implement and go a long way towards helping you live your life to its full and happiest potential.