5 Simple Ways to Boost Mental Health
5 Simple Ways to Boost Mental Health
Being more mentally healthy doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. In fact, it can be quite simple to boost mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and a great time to highlight some easy things you can do to feel better. You may even start today.
Many of us are wearing multiple hats as busy professionals, parents, friends, siblings, caregivers, students, and more. All of these responsibilities and tasks can be difficult to manage and cause stress. Adding these tools to your mental health toolbox can help to combat symptoms of anxiety, depression, and trauma, and help manage grief and loss.
What are five simple and cost-effective ways to improve mental health?
1.) Get Outside —
Did you know that we are mentally and physically wired as human beings to connect with nature? It is part of who we are. It is called “biophilia.” Spending time outside is where we find calm and peace, and it is why, research shows, we recover better from stress in natural settings. Being outside helps us feel better, making it easier to let stressful things roll on.
Exposure to nature can also help the brain to work better. The American Psychological Association reports that time in nature can improve attention, lower stress, and result in upticks in empathy and cooperation. Time in nature has also been shown to improve memory and cognitive flexibility. Think of it as a boost for your tired brain. Next time you are feeling run down or overwhelmed by all the things you need to do indoors, step outside and take a few breaths. When you are outside, fresh air can help raise oxygen levels in your brain, which increases serotonin levels. Regularly breathing fresh air can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
2.) Move Your Body —
Even though it may feel like you are always on the run, you may be spending more time sitting than you think. Movement may be one of the simplest ways to improve your mental and physical well-being. Getting your heart rate up, breathing in fresh air, and allowing your brain some time to decompress as you let go of stress can all help to boost healthy hormones in your brain. If you don’t feel like you have time to add exercise to your day, get creative. Park further away from the store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk and talk, or bike to your next meeting. Your brain and body will thank you.
3.) Practice Mindfulness —
Why is something that sounds so simple, so difficult? We are always tuned into something. Whether it be a device or thinking about the next thing we have to get done or worrying about something that happened the day before, we are rarely in the moment. Learning to practice mindfulness daily can have a huge impact on your mental health. Next time you feel anxious or overwhelmed, take a moment to focus on where you are currently. Focus on the sounds you hear, the smells, the feel of your clothes or the things around you, the taste of a meal, etc. Mindfulness can help to bring us back down to earth from wherever our brain was running. Regular mindfulness practice has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve sleep.
4.) Make Connections —
People thrive on connection. We are a connected species. We need each other. Even the most introverted and quiet people need connection. It can be as simple as meeting a friend for a cup of coffee, going on a nightly walk with a neighbor, or chatting with other parents at a children’s sporting event. However they look to you, make personal connections a priority.
5.) Take Time for You—
We all need time to do the things we love, the things that make us happy. When we are so busy meeting the needs of everyone else or tackling our to-do lists we often let ourselves fall short. Make sure to do something simple for you each week, even if that means saying “no” to other things. Choose to go to bed early, stay in for the night, take a yoga class, or take a nap, whatever brings you joy and peace.
The counselors and therapists at Whole Journey understand life is hard. If you are struggling with your mental health, consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. They can help to guide you and give you more simple tools for your toolbox.
Ready to begin counseling in Virginia or North Carolina?
Whole Journey works with clients throughout the state of Virginia and North Carolina via our online counseling platforms. We have office locations in Chesapeake, Richmond, Vinton, and Charlotte. Our counselors are professionally trained in helping people to live healthier, happier lives. We want to see you thrive. Call our Virginia offices at 757-296-0800 or our North Carolina office at 980- 209-9805 to schedule an appointment.