How to improve mental and emotional health?
In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up. Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if, and when, they arise.
Taking care of yourself includes pursuing activities that naturally release endorphins and contribute to feeling good. In addition to physical exercise, endorphins are also naturally released when we:
• Do things that positively impact others. Being useful to others and being valued for what you do, can help build self-esteem.
• Practice self-discipline. Self-control naturally leads to a sense of hopefulness and can help you overcome despair, helplessness, and other negative thoughts.
• Learn new things. Think of it as “intellectual candy.” Try taking a cooking class or swimming, learn a new language, or simply travel somewhere new.
• Enjoy the beauty of nature. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress. The same goes for admiring architecture, or sitting on a beach.
• Manage your stress levels. Stress takes a heavy toll on mental and emotional health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all stressors can be avoided, stress management strategies can help you bring things back into balance.
• Limit unhealthy mental habits like worrying. Try to avoid negative thoughts about yourself and the world. This can drain your energy, and trigger feelings of anxiety, fear, and depression.
• Appeal to your senses. Stay calm and energized by appealing to the five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Listen to music that lifts your mood, place flowers where you will see and smell them, massage your hands and feet, or sip a warm drink.
• Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it—things like gardening, drawing, writing or playing an instrument.
• Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them, like watching a funny movie. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.
• Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.
Everyone is different; not all things will be equally beneficial to all people. Some people feel better relaxing and slowing down while others need more activity and more excitement or stimulation to feel better. The important thing is to find activities that you enjoy and that give you a boost.
Supportive relationships: The foundation of emotional health
No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and be your best. Humans are social creatures with an emotional need for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, or thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship — even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others.
Social interaction — specifically talking to someone else about your problems — can also help to reduce stress. The key is to find a supportive relationship with someone who is a “good listener” — someone you can talk to regularly, preferably face-to-face, who will listen to you without judgment for how you should think or feel. A good listener will listen to the feelings behind your words, and won’t interrupt or judge or criticize you. What is the best way to find a good listener? Be a good listener yourself!!! Develop a friendship with someone you can talk to regularly, and then listen and support each other.
Tips and strategies for connecting to others:
• Get out from behind your TV or computer screen… Screens have their place but they will never have the same effect as an expression of interest or a reassuring touch. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to be in direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction.
• Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like… Make spending time with people you enjoy a priority.
Choose friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you.
• Volunteer… Doing something that helps others has a beneficial effect on how you feel about yourself. The meaning and purpose you find in helping others will enrich and expand your life.
When to seek professional help for emotional problems
If you’ve made consistent efforts to improve your mental and emotional health and you still don’t feel good — then it’s time to seek professional help. Let me help you.