With one in four Americans suffering from at least one mental health disorder in a given year, the need for mental health awareness and education is real. Managing good mental health is something that involves a variety of healthy daily habits working together in unison. While there may be times when we don't always feel or operate at our best, mental illness will be a lot less likely to get us down and make us unable to function in life if we implement a few healthy lifestyle habits into our schedules on the daily. So without further ado, here are 10 daily habits for proactively managing your mental health.
Get 7-9 hours of sleep: The actual amount each individual requires will vary, and you know your body best, so pick a number between seven and nine hours, and make sure this is consistent each day. Your neurotransmitters responsible for mood and mental wellness will have ample time to replenish themselves and stay in balance when you're getting a consistent amount of sleep that occurs between the same hours (give or take 30 minutes before or after each bedtime and alarm time) every day. Those of you who are having difficulty sleeping may find value in a variety of holistic approaches to help you sleep including melatonin supplements, valerian root tea, yoga nidra, regular exercise, and sunlight, shutting off electronics an hour before bed, etc. It's best to rule out any medical conditions that could be giving you difficulties sleeping and to adjust your sleep management approach as needed.
Get 30 minutes of cardio:
This is not only good for our hearts and bodies, but it's great for our mental health. Exercise helps us release endorphins which can give us a natural high, or positive mood. This could be done with your favorite cardio equipment, or be as simple as dancing to your favorite songs or taking a brisk walk around your neighborhood or local park. You can even take the weekends off from this ritual so long as you're keeping it consistent throughout the week.
Reduce caffeine intake: This may be a hard pill to swallow, but caffeine has been linked with a wide range of mental health symptoms from anxiety to psychosis. I'm certainly not saying that coffee will cause psychosis, but those who suffer from it aren't doing themselves any favors by drinking beverages high in caffeine like coffee, as it can help perpetuate symptoms. There's caffeine in most teas and sodas as well. Just be sure you know what's in the things you put into your body. The levels of caffeine in each product are different and tend to affect everyone differently, so do your research and listen to your body on this one. If you notice your anxiety spiking after your first-morning cup, you may want to consider switching to decaf.
Reduce sugars and processed foods: Sugars, especially refined white sugars, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods have been found to have a negative impact on overall health, with mental health being no exception. The best way to eat for good physical and mental health is to get a daily balanced diet of whole grains, lean proteins like fish, healthy fats from avocados, oils, nuts, etc. and plenty of fruits and vegetables. The greater the variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet (and the more colorful the variety) the better. This is the best way to ensure you're getting all of the essential micronutrients you need for optimal mental health and clarity.
Reduce alcohol intake: Some of you may be rolling your eyes, but it's true. The more one drinks, the more depressed the mind is likely to feel since alcohol is a depressant. By ingesting it, it's throwing the neurotransmitter balance in the brain off. It's been found to be beneficial for our health to have one drink per day for females and two per day for males. This doesn't mean that it's as equally healthy to save them all up for the weekend either, and one serving is likely smaller than what you're used to being served at a restaurant these days. A good rule of thumb to remember is that less is more when it comes to alcohol and its impact on mental health (it also has a negative impact on physical health). If you're struggling to stop or reduce your alcohol intake, support is available to help you.
Get 10-15 minutes of sunlight: This should be before you put any sunscreen on, as it's exactly what your body needs to absorb vitamin D. If you're going to be in the sun any longer, be sure to protect your skin.
Smile at a stranger: Given the right stranger, this small act of kindness will leave you feeling positive while making someone else smile. It may also help you to get out of your comfort zone (or head) a bit and become more social.
Laugh with a friend: Not enough can be said about the healing power of laughter. Friendships are important as well, and nurturing friendships with those who are positive and make you feel good is an important ingredient in maintaining good mental health.
Play: Doing something for the pure joy and entertainment of it is an important part of a healthy life balance. You may work hard, but you should reward your hard work with some time for you to indulge in your favorite hobby or activity in moderation.
Count your blessings: Cultivating a mindset of gratitude is an essential part of keeping a healthy mind. This means that even while things are not perfect in life there is so much around you that you can be thankful for. Counting your blessings, or making a list of what you're thankful for, each and every day is a great way to help yourself feel happier and more content.
It takes a minimum of 21 times of doing something for it to become a habit. That means that if you're diligent about sticking to these ten daily habits, you should be well on your way toward good mental health management, without really having to think about it, after three weeks. That's not too shabby. Some of you may need a bit of a boost in the right direction when embarking on making these 10 habits a realistic part of your daily life, and that's OK, it's a perfectly normal part of the journey. I recommend a natural micronutrient supplement for improved mental wellness.
Focus Essentials offers a high-quality micronutrient supplement that I've tried personally, and have felt the benefits from almost immediately. You're welcome to try a bottle of this formula for one month and see if it helps. You really have nothing to lose, and everything to gain from trying these ten daily habits and adding a powerful supplement into your diet.