Our mental health not only affects our mood, thoughts, and behaviors but also affects our performance, interpersonal relationships as well as physical health. Hence, building positive mental health should be a priority for each one of us. For this purpose, we will here focus on 4 effective ways to boost your mental health.
Now, having positive mental health is not about the absence of negative characteristics such as anxiety and stress but it is the presence of positive characteristics such as resilience, self-care, self-confidence, positive relationships, ability to balance work and personal life as well as ability to deal with stressful situations.
After quite extensive research on these characteristics, researchers have found some common effective ways that can help to boost our mental health.
These are the 4 effective ways to boost your mental health:
- Make social connection
We are social animals with a need for belonging to and an emotional need to connect with others. Hence, all of us do need the company of others to feel connected as part of a larger group than alone. Even in current modern times with social networks and video calling services, the face-to-face connection is considered to be best for building better emotional connection with people. These interactions have proved to be stress-reducing as well as reducing the negative feelings and thoughts of the individuals. Try to think about a few people you want to connect with for a long time and plan a meet-up with them.
The key here to interact effectively with someone is to be a “good listener”. A good listener doesn’t wait for their turn to speak in a conversation but they try to listen to others’ words, feelings behind those words without interrupting, judging, or criticizing. It may sound easy at first, but it’s a skill to acquire.
Hence, try to build this skill by observing how you listen in your conversations, how much you are actually focused on the other person, and how you should encourage others to reach out to you for having any kind of conversations. You can learn more about listening skills here.
Now, reaching out to others should not be considered as a sign of weakness or it won’t make you a burden to others. Most people like the fact that you trust them and share your personal matters with them. However, understanding the effects of heavy conversations is crucial, so try to ask if the other person has enough time and mental strength to talk about a heavy issue of yours.
Similarly, if you think that talking with someone makes your energy drain and you feel sadder, try to be open about this to the other person and the next time you can reply with, “I am sorry but I don’t feel I can talk about any heavy subjects” or “Maybe we can talk later as right now I don’t have enough energy for this”.
Also, interacting only with acquaintances or friends is not necessarily enough for building a positive social connection, you can even be friends with your neighbors, people in the random line or on the bus, or the person you walk past on roads. Try to make simple eye contact and exchange a smile, a greeting, or even a small talk.
- Stay active
Our mind and the body are intrinsically linked in such a way that they affect each other, hence when you work on your physical health, you’ll experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Trying to build a habit of some kind of physical activity such as exercise, weight lifting, yoga, running, or any other sport is crucial for your mental health. This is because these activities help to release hormones and chemicals that lift our mood, reduce stress, help in better sleep, and reduce the risk of getting chronic diseases.
Remember that you don’t have to exercise until you’re soaked in sweat or your every muscle starts to hurt. Try to make a goal of doing some kind of activity for at least 10-20 minutes every five to six days a week. You can also change activities, timings and use partners to engage yourself better in them.
- Manage your stress
Stress takes a heavy toll on both mental and physical health, so it’s important to keep it under control. While not all levels of stress are bad as research shows that a moderate level of stress actually helps to increase the performance but after that optimum level, an increase in stress levels does lead to a decrease in performance and an increase in a negative mood. To avoid these situations, stress management strategies can help you balance stress.
These strategies first include face-to-face social interactions with someone you connect with easily. Secondly, you can appeal to your senses by listening to your favorite songs or smelling ground coffee or a favorite scent, you can also eat your favorite food to de-stress yourself. Thirdly, try to build a habit of taking some time for yourself in your day, you can use this “me-time” for any of your favorite activities for no reason other than that they make you feel good. Lastly, try to use relaxation techniques to help you decrease your levels of stress.
One effective relaxation technique you can use for this purpose is to use progressive muscle relaxation where you take deep breaths while relaxing and contracting your body from tip to toe.
Furthermore, try to build a healthy diet and healthy sleeping pattern by observing your current pattern then challenging yourself slowly and progressively to build more healthy patterns. Try to set reminders and goals to push yourself a little.
- Find purpose and meaning in life
Everyone derives meaning and purpose in different ways that may involve benefiting others or themselves or both. Having this sense of purpose is crucial as it works as the biggest motivation for us to keep working on ourselves and our future. Other than the career and growth reason this purpose can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue your biggest goals in life.
So, what gives you meaning and purpose? Some people are clear about this question whereas some are not. An effective way to be aware of this purpose is to engage in activities that make you feel good, productive, and care not whether you get paid for them or not. You can ask yourself questions such as, “What makes me happy?” or “What motivates me to wake up tomorrow or look forward to tomorrow”?
Mental health is as crucial as physical health and given its interconnected nature, we need to work on both to improve our well-being. A few methods to boost this well-being are with the help of physical connections, physical movements, managing stress, physical health, and understanding our meaning in life. Furthermore, understand the limit where different techniques aren’t much help so you need to consult a professional.
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