5 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

mental healthYour mental health is a vital part of your overall health, yet we often ignore it. When you feel mentally alive, your physical health improves as well. Follow these five tips to improve your mental health and increase your happiness.

1. Address negative beliefs.

Most of us hold negative beliefs, and they have a detrimental effect on our mental and physical health. We choose to hold these beliefs for whatever reason, and some may be valid while others are outdated or simply incorrect. Negative beliefs lead to a negative attitude, which saps your energy and alienates family members, caregivers, and friends.

To change a negative belief, you must identify it. Ask a trusted friend for help with this. Once you have determined which are your negative beliefs, ask yourself three things: where they came from, whether they are true, and whether you still want to hold onto them. Letting go of negative beliefs can be difficult but tremendously freeing, and it must be your decision to move forward without them. No one can force you to release a negative belief.

2. Replace the negative with a positive.

Whenever a negative thought creeps into your mind, focus on the positive of the situation instead. The negative thought will float off, and you’ll be happier, more relaxed, and able to deal with the situation as a whole. This is not to say you don’t need to deal with negative thoughts or situations—sometimes you do—but often negative thoughts are holdovers from those negative beliefs you’re trying to lose.

For example, if you’ve lost 10 pounds and have a negative thought about your ability to continue losing, remind yourself that you’ve already lost 10. Tell yourself how good you feel, and encourage yourself to keep going. If you let a negative thought stay in your mind, you’ll fall into it and have a difficult time climbing out of it. Concentrate on the positive, and don’t dig yourself a negative hole.

3. Reduce stress.

Stress causes not only physical problems, but also mental blocks and issues. Reducing stress is one of the fastest ways to boost your mental health. One quick way to feel better is to take three deep breaths: inhale through your nose, close your eyes and hold it for two seconds, and then exhale through your mouth. Exhale as fully as you can, and feel the stress melt.

Several other ways to decrease stress include exercise, meditation, massage, and aromatherapy. Sometimes walking away and being alone for 5–10 minutes or listening to your favorite music is all you need to reduce anxiety. Experiment to find your best stress relief.

4. Take a break from your life.

A change of scenery is always good for your mental health. Take a week-long vacation at least once a year. You’re doing yourself and your family a disservice if you accrue vacation time and never use it. Find the time to do something for you. Get away and explore new places, or take a week off to work on a hobby you never seem to have time to enjoy. You’ll return refreshed, relaxed, and happier.

5. Exercise your mind as you do your body.

We move through each day doing what we must, but we don’t stimulate our minds as often or as deeply as we should. Your mind craves challenge and creativity, and you feel alive and alert when you give your mind a new job. Take a class, learn a new hobby, go to a symphony or museum, or do the crossword in the newspaper. Try something new and excite your brain, as well as improve your memory.

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and the more you take care of your mind and exercise it, the happier you’ll be. If you do it consistently, the benefits last long into old age.

What’s your favorite way to take care of your mental health?

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