You have probably been taught to eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep to maintain good physical health since you were in elementary school. Mental health is seriously underrated in American society. Most likely, you were not taught how to maintain good mental health, which is why addiction and mental illness is a current nationwide epidemic. Recovering from an addiction and/or mental illness requires commitment, courage, and consistency. While many people want to recover and are brave enough to take the first steps, they often fail to be kind to themselves over an extended period of time. Part of the consistency is taking measures to maintain good overall mental health.
Seven Ways to Keep Your Mind Healthy
- Do Not Bottle Up Your Emotions
You may have been taught to bottle up your emotions by your family of origin and/or society. Keeping emotions, especially negative ones, bottled up will only cause them to accumulate until you cannot handle it anymore. Not reaching out for help causes many recovering individuals to turn back to drugs or alcohol or stop their treatments. There are caring, helpful centers around such as www.harrishousestl.org who can provide help to you. Your best bet is to talk to someone who can empathize with you (e.g. a sponsor) because addiction and mental health disorders can be difficult to handle alone.
- Be Physically Active
Studies prove that exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers, and dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is released when you are engaging in a rewarding activity. Exercise is also healthy because it keeps your mind busy, improves your sleep, and boosts your self-image. You do not have to be an athlete or pay hundreds of dollars a year on a gym membership. You can play sports, ride a bicycle, swim, or simply take a walk.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Diet has a major impact on your mental health as well as your physical health. Numerous studies are showing that the ingredients in most foods (e.g. gluten, antibiotics, sugars. ) increase the risk of developing a mental health disorder because they cause people to generally not feel well. There are several diets (e.g. gluten-free, organic, plant paradox, keto, etc.) that set guidelines for avoiding foods that contain unhealthy ingredients. If you are not into following a specific diet, do your best to eat a balanced diet. The My Plate Chart or Food Pyramid can help you balance your diet.
- Do Artwork
You do not have to be the next Pablo Picasso or Mary Cassette. Many people avoid doing artwork like it is the black plague because they believe they are not good at it. There are three different types of art: fine, practical, and performing. Examples of fine art are drawing, painting, and sculpture. Some ideas of practical art are cooking, sewing, and interior design. Then there are the performing arts which consist of drama, dance, and music. Art therapy has been a part of rehabilitation programs because it helps people express their emotions, have fun, keep busy, and feel good about themselves. Finding a form of art that you enjoy will help you in a few areas of mental health, such as stress relief and self-esteem.
- Become Comfortable with Your Flaws
Every human being has flaws. Human nature makes people wish that their flaws did not exist. Your flaws make you a unique individual; therefore, you should embrace them. An easier way to do that is to think of an advantage that your flaw gives you. For example, if one of your flaws is you are too sensitive, think about how being sensitive helps you empathize with others. Being comfortable with your flaws prevents anyone from using them as an ammunition against you.
- Do Not Overwork Yourself
While you need to go to work and/or go to school to make money and be productive, you need to have a healthy work-life balance. While overachieving earns you favor in the workplace and a better self-perception, overworking yourself will only make you miss out on indulging in self-care and necessary leisure.
- Take the Time to Understand Others
If someone does not like you or treats you poorly, do not take it personally. Their opinion stems from their experiences and does not mean that anything is wrong with you. Taking the time to understand their point of view and not taking maltreatment personally will make you less codependent on others and more confident in yourself.