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Six Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health and Well-Being

     

Your overall well-being involves not only physical but also mental health. The World Health Organization says that “mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health.”

Just as there are things you can do to maintain your physical health, you can take steps to maintain your mental health. Here are a few tips, resources and ideas for maintaining good mental health:

1. Goals and Resolutions
Many people start the year creating New Year’s resolutions that focus on physical health. Consider goals or resolutions that focus on improving your mental health, too. Take a moment to think about your mental health goals and what you can do throughout the year. Try a monthly goal and focus on bringing it to fruition. Creating a daily or weekly journal to keep your goals in mind can keep you focused and on track. Learn more about Writing for Mental Health.

2. Managing Stress
All of us manage stress differently. Whether it’s related to work, money issues, relationships or health we all experience stress. A study by researchers from the University of California-Berkeley that found chronic stress can make the brain more susceptible to mental illness. Reducing or managing stress, for example with yoga, breathing exercises or other relaxation techniques, can promote better mental well-being. Maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise, and better sleep also help (see below). You can learn more in these APA blogs:, Even a Single Yoga Session Can Help, Relax, Take a Deep Breath.

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3. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet plays a strong role on your physical health but it’s also important for your mental well-being. According to the National Institutes of Health, “diet, exercise and other aspects of our daily interaction with the environment have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. …particular nutrients influence cognition.”
Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, M.D., with Columbia University, suggests skipping processed foods and focusing on whole grains, lentils, nuts, leafy greens and seafood, which contain brain-healthy nutrients. He also suggests avoiding trans fats but not fearing the “good fats,” such as omega-3 fats DHA and EPA. They are found in foods like fish, dairy products and eggs and are great for your brain.Finding ways to improve your nutrition can have long term benefits for your mind and body. Learn more in previous APA blog The Best Foods to Support Mental Health May Depend on Your Age.

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4. Regular Exercise
Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is important for all aspects of health, including mental well-being. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week (about 24 minutes a day) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (about 11 minutes a day). Find an activity that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to keep at it. Learn more about Keeping Up Exercise to Keep Depression Away.

5. Better Quality of Sleep
We know sleep is important, and yet most of us do not get enough. Consider putting “get more sleep” on your list. A 2010 study by researchers from the George Institute on Global Health in Australia found that people who sleep less than 5 hours a night may be at higher risk of mental illness. Program your sleep time into your schedule and remember to take a break from your electronic devices at least an hour before you go to bed. Give yourself time to unwind before trying to sleep. Learn more about Making Sleep a Priority.

6. Do Something Good
Taking up volunteering or adopting a hobby you are passionate about can promote good mental health. Volunteering at a local food bank or focusing on a hobby like gardening can help you forget your worries and change your mood. Find a cause or hobby that speaks to your heart and make time for it in your schedule. Read more in the blog Volunteering: Good for Other, Good for Yourself.

Make realistic, small changes that you can actively implement in your daily routine. A little goes a long way when you make your mental health and well-being a priority.

References

     

AnxietyDepressionPatients and Families

 

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