Positive psychological (mental) health is essential for our survival, but it can easily be disturbed by the stress of jobs, kids and mortgages. When our minds are constantly distracted with these responsibilities, it becomes difficult to maintain an uplifted mood.
By improving your mental health, you can conquer these daily distractions and strengthen your mental skills to become more happy and successful in both your home and work life.
Fortunately, there are several natural ways, like the ones listed below, to improve mental health so that you can stay productive and successful throughout the day!
Exercise is one of the easiest and most effective ways to naturally improve your mental well-being. Not only does physical activity help decrease the chances of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, it also boosts your mood by increasing the body’s production of the “feel-good” chemicals called endorphins, which help the body to relax and stress less.
Make exercise fun and motivating by signing up for local fitness classes, train for a 5k mud run, or even join a CrossFit box. The key is to find what you enjoy and aim to for at 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times each week to strengthen your body inside and out!
Clean Up Your Diet
A healthy diet will enhance your psychological health by improving physical health. Excessive consumption of certain foods, such as salt, sugar and saturated fat not only wreak havoc on your physical well-being, but it can also worsen depression and anxiety. On the other hand, eating nutritious, wholesome foods, such as fresh, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, has proven to help improve mental health. Clean up your diet by treating yourself to healthy, nourishing foods to boost your mood and to keep your body young, fit and disease-free!
Volunteering is a great way to help others while providing personal fulfillment. Some awarding volunteer opportunities include serving as a mentor for troubled children, participating in local charities, or working at a food bank. There are tons of organizations out there who would absolutely love your help, so research your interests and to quote Alice Hocker, “You’re greatness is not what you have, but in what you give.”
Foster Positive Social Contacts:
Fostering positive social contacts, whether with family, friends or colleagues, is very important for our psychological needs. Everyone needs some type of social interaction, and it is best to find individuals with similar values and interests. One goal to try improve your mental health could be to make and maintain at least one new and positive social contact each year. Again, think about your hobbies and try to meet people through those venues to keep yourself happy and interactive!
Keep a “Positivity” Journal:
You can help improve your intellectual health by keeping a daily journal or diary. Some people find it calming and motivating to write down positive thoughts or goals for the day.1 Not to mention, it can be extremely uplifting to look back through the journal to see your accomplishments and remind yourself of what an amazing person you are!
Get Adequate Sleep:
Getting enough sleep is very important for both your physical and psychological well-being. Studies have shown that 7-9 hours is optimal for mental health, but of course the exact quantity depends on the individual.4 To ensure you are getting adequate, interrupted sleep, try to go to bed at the same time each night, turn off all your electronics at least one hour before bedtime and keep a cool, dark bedroom. For more information on healthy sleep habits check out the AT blog, The Science of Sleep.
- Alters, S., Schiff, W. (2011) Stress and its management. Essential Concepts for Healthy Living: 35-36.Find all citations by this author (default).Or filter your current search
- Dunn, A.L., Trivedi, M.H., & O’Neal, H.A. (2001). Physical activity dose-response effects on outcomes of depression and anxiety. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33 (6 Suppl): S587-S597.
- Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun A, Williams LJ, Hodge AM, et al. (2010) Association between western and traditional diets and depression and anxiety in women. Am J Psychiatry 167: 305–311.
- Kaneita, Y., Ohida, T., Oisaki, Y., Minowa, M., Suzuki, K., Wada, K., Kanda, H., Hayashi, K., (2007) Association between mental health status and sleep status among adolescents in Japan: a nationwide cross-sectional survey. Department of Public Health, School of Medicine, Nihon University, Tokyo, Japan. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: 1426-1435.