Physical Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
As we near the end of the school year, we are also nearing the end of Mental Health Awareness Month. Taking care of your mental health needs to be a daily priority, like how you would take care of your other health needs.
Some basic physical steps to take better care of your mental health include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Making good food and nutrition choices
- Managing Stress
According to Mayo Clinic, adults should be getting at least seven or more hours of sleep every night, and if you become sleep deprived that means the amount of sleep you need becomes higher.
Some things you can do for a better night’s sleep include:
- Staying off of your phone/computer at least an hour before you try to sleep
- Put your phone in another room, or at least keep it out of your bed
- Sleep in complete darkness, no television running in the background
- Try incorporating more physical activity into your daily routine
If you have already tried these things, and still can’t get a good night’s sleep, consult with your doctor because “getting the recommended amount of sleep regularly is linked with better health, including improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, the ability to control emotions, quality of life, and mental and physical health.” (MayoClinic.org)
Making good food and nutrition choices is all about balance, there is no need to cut out everything you love that you consider ‘bad’ to only focus on the ‘good.’ Everyone has a different relationship with food, but it is important to figure out how to maintain a healthy relationship on your own for yourself.
Good choices surrounding food include:
- Eating enough fruits and vegetables
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating the right amount of carbs, sugars, and proteins
With the nice summer weather rolling around we can seize the chance to get in some exercise outside. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:
- Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids), and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being
- Taking your mind off your worries, you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety
- Gaining confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence by proving you can do what you set your mind to.
- Getting more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
- Coping healthily. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
Managing your stress levels is not only good for your mental health but like the other items on this list, it is good for your physical health too. Lowering your stress levels can help you lower your risk for other health conditions like depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
These are just a few ways you can try to take care of your mental health, and if these don’t work it is time for a conversation with your doctor about steps you can take toward improvement.
At Rock In Prevention, In Rock In Prevention’s online curriculum, Rock Digi, we have created a curriculum called “Mental Health, SEL, and Substance Abuse Prevention” for grades 7-12. In this curriculum, we provide students with some basic tools to maintain mental wellness as well as resources for help when students are struggling with their mental health.
Visit rockdigi.org for more information and free trial lessons.
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