We talk all the time about going to the gym, or to an exercise class to keep your body healthy and making sure you eat enough fiber to keep your gut healthy but are you doing enough to keep your mind in good health? After all, not taking care of our mental well being can be just as disastrous as neglecting our physical health, if not more so. With that being said – here are 7 actions you can do that will help to promote a healthy mind. Are you keeping your mind happy and healthy? We talk all the time about going to the gym, or to an exercise class to keep your body healthy and making sure you eat enough fiber to keep your gut healthy but are you doing enough to keep your mind in good health? After all, not taking care of our mental well being can be just as disastrous as neglecting our physical health, if not more so. With that being said – here are 7 actions you can do that will help to promote a healthy mind. Are you keeping your mind happy and healthy?
A third of our lives are spent asleep. If we really think about that, it is crazy! A third of all the time we have on this earth, and we have to be unconscious for it! It blows the mind! Some people say you can sleep when you’re dead BUT I for one do NOT function well without decent sleep. Of course, the fact that we are asleep for so long shows that getting enough is crucial not only for our physical bodies to cleanse and repair themselves but also for our mental and emotional health as well. What that means is getting the right amount of sleep can make your mind much healthier and ready to tackle the challenges of the day ahead.
Of course, talking about this and achieving it are two very distinct things. After all, there is so much to think about, so much content to consume, and so many things to entertain us that winding down at night, and getting a full 8 hours of sleep can seem all but impossible.
Luckily, there are some tactics we can use to promote more and better sleep each night. One is to get into a sound sleep hygiene routine. This is where you have a fixed schedule for the evening and follow this regularly – also easier said than done, I know. The idea being that it not only provides time for your brain to calm down and prepare for rest but after a while can it also trigger feeling sleepy as a response through habit as well.
Other actions you can take to promote better sleep are to cut down on stimulants such as sugar and caffeine and even review the comfort level for your bedroom. After all, trying to sleep in a noisy, cluttered, or dirty environment can be stressful and so work against you getting the rest you need to be reached and refueled mentally for the next day. I’ve also stopped looking at my phone at least an hour before bedtime. Laying in bed browsing my phone goes from 10 minutes to 2 hours in a flash. The blue light in our phones also keeps our brains wired – so I’ve put my phone into nighttime mode by 8pm.
One activity gaining popularity as a method of promoting a healthy mind is meditation. To meditate, in its purest form means to be focused on one particular anchor, usually it’s the breath but it can also be a sound, an image, or even a physical movement.
The idea of meditating is not to be focused on this anchor in an unswerving fashion, but instead to treat it as a point to return your attention to when other experiences or distractions pull you away. Of course, pull you away they will, because as anyone that has ever meditated or tried to meditate knows that as soon as you get quiet your brain will chatter away, and you will feel twinges in your body, or you will get caught up with the flow of an emotion, or even a memory.
The reason for this is because our minds work in this way, and what meditation does is to train us to get less caught up in our mental experiences (stress, lack of self confidence, beating yourself up about something, comparison, etc.) something that can often cause a great deal of pain and suffering to the individual.
This non-attachment to thoughts is of particular value to mental well being because it allows us to accept our inner and mental experience without believing it to be either true or fixed. This means if we are experiencing sadness, or confusion or anger, we can allow those feelings to be there but not be controlled by them – realizing they are only temporary. This, in turn, can help us act in the right way, and decrease some of the suffering we experience because we know that eventually these feelings will pass and turn into something else. Something that can be of enormous value regarding mental well being, especially during trying or emotional times.
Creativity is crucial for mental well being, but don’t worry you don’t have to be an artist to practice it! In fact, there are many different forms and ways of being creative from cooking up a storm in the kitchen, to the way that you dress!
The reason that creativity is so important for a healthy mind is because it is a form of self expression. In fact, many people find that they can express feelings and experiences through creative acts that they cannot do through words. Earlier this summer I picked up bullet journaling and let me tell you, I can get lost for hours creating fun templates and such! Creativity in whichever form you choose, then becomes a way of being our most free and authentic selves, and if that isn’t crucial to having a healthy mind, I don’t know what is?
Another action you can take to promote mental health is to be honest with yourself regarding the areas in which you are struggling and reach out for some help with these. There really is no need to feel shame about this because we all struggle with something in life, and if there is help out there that can promote mental wellness and happiness it makes sense to access and make the most of it.
Seeking the right help for you is one of the most effective ways of keeping your mind healthy.
Of course, different issues will require different solutions, so do your research on the latest treatments and assistance for the problem you are currently wrestling with.
In fact, even within the single area of Mental Health, many different treatment options are recommended for varying conditions. For instance, available therapies include medication-assisted treatment for those with addiction issues, offered by organizations like Resolutions Behavioral Health, all the way through to CBT and ACT form of treatment that is shown to be most effective for those struggling with anxiety and depression. I fully admit my major depression/anxiety/eating disorder was supremely out of whack until I not only sought help but found the right kind of help!
Reading is an activity that can promote peace of mind in many ways. For one, reading can be a wonderful escape for when things get tough. I always feel as if I’m being transported to another time, and place, and so provides me respite from my own personal circumstances. Do you agree?
Also, by reading, we can gain a lot of valuable information on how to improve our minds and our lives – hello self help category! In fact, reading is something that often helps us to change our perspective and develop a new way of approaching the challenges in our life. This mental flexibility is crucial if we are to adjust to new circumstances, grow as people, and develop an appreciation for other opinions, cultures, and habits that aren’t our own.
Social media can certainly encourage us to share nearly every facet of our lives from what we have had for breakfast, to what we are currently feeling/wearing/etc. I was initially very hesitant to talk about my mental health to my audience because I feared criticism – but what I found was I had a HUGE tribe either experiencing similar issues or were just there to provide all the support and love I needed!
One thing I want to point out though about social media is the danger zone – the one where we fall victim to comparing our worst, with other people’s best. The danger zone is a trap that is particularly easy to fall into, especially as many people edit their social media profile and posts to only show their most successful side. I don’t post images of me snot faced and crying it out or having an extremely off day and staying in bed hiding from the depression monster (because it is my monster). My feed is curated and full of my best moments for the camera. I really wish when people send me messages thinking I “live the best life” they would remember they’re only seeing a certain part of me that I want them to see – not all the nitty gritty.
But I know that I spent a long time existing, now I intend to live. – An Ember in the Ashes
To that end, if you are looking for a mental well being boost, it can be a much better idea to find someone that you have a genuine, real-life connection to that you can share with. If possible, you can even go so far as getting together in real life instead of over messenger, or video chat. In fact, sharing your highs and your lows with someone in this way can do a world of good for your mental health, and you get the added boost that you have done the same for them as well! I always walk away from real “face time” so fulfilled because I’ve connected with that person(s) in a concrete way rather than via some technological portal. We’re losing so much of our humanity to our phones – get out and experience!
Find your passion
There is nothing that will sap the energy from your life and the joy from your heart than having your mind engaged in tasks that you either loathe or find no value in. What a waste of precious time and energy! That is why it is essential to find your passion in life – you know, the thing that gets you out of bed every morning and the thing you fall asleep thinking about each night!
Now, there has been a lot of talk lately about how we need to be more practical in life, forget about our passions, and just go with the best opportunities in front of us. Of course on the surface, this seems like pragmatic and functional advice. However, when you contextualize this by reminding yourself that you only have one life, and it is no one else’s responsibility to make you happy, not pursuing your dreams and passions seems like a colossal waste of time.
I’m not saying you have to radically change your life overnight. After all, there is nothing wrong with having an incremental plan, and slowly but surely working your way towards your goals and dreams. However, to ignore them completely isn’t going to help you find emotional or mental well being in the long run. In fact, it may do the complete opposite and leave you riddled with threats! A risk I, and my mind are not willing to take! Even if it’s not logical to maybe leave the job you hate at present – find a hobby or something else you CAN turn to that brings you joy and relief from that job/situation/etc.
How do you find your mental well being?