Have you watched the Pixar movie called Inside Out? It was one of my favorite childhood Pixar movie because it felt relatable to me and I loved it a lot!
Inside Out was crafted imaginatively and emotionally, which was a very suitable movie for all ages. I was only 13 years old when I watched it, but I gained some insights about life through it. What it taught me was that there are significant emotions we all have to deal with at some point in life.
Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. We may experience all these 5 emotions in a day as we go through our daily schedule. A life lesson to understand is that we are not able to eliminate any of these emotions entirely, but we can learn to accept how we feel and how we can best make use of our emotions. Being able to control our emotions can have a significant impact on our mental well being and ultimately helping us to get positive mental health.
But first, what does it mean to be mentally healthy?
Imagine a day when you wake up with the sun shining brightly on your face. Instead of being grumpy, you feel great and also kind of excited to start a new day. Nothing, not work nor school, can bring down your mood and you’re just so happy to be healthy. Having a positive mental health influences the very way you think, feel and act in your daily life.
Picture taken from http://drbrocchini.com/positive-outlook-affects-health/
You’ll have a better ability to cope with any stress or worry coming your way and build strong relationships with the people around you. Overcoming any difficulties and recovering from any setbacks in your life are all build on positivity.
Good mental health is not just about having the absence of mental health illnesses. It is about the presence of a positive outlook and mental characteristics. A summary of positive characteristics can be found below.
Signs that you have a positive mental health:
Contented with your life
Appreciating your life and a zest for living
Able to laugh and have fun
Able to find purpose in daily life and relationships
High self-esteem and confidence
Are you interested in handling your emotions better? Or looking for ways to cope with a particular mental illness? There are many many ways to take control of your mental health and there’s no better time to start than now!
The good news is that these are practices you can take a step at a time. To achieve a good and fit body, it requires perseverance and self-control over what you eat and how much to exercise. Similarly, to get good mental health, you will have to work hard and consistently because there are so many things that may take a toll on your emotional well-being.
Let’s start boosting your mental health with these 8 steps!
1. Social connection
This refers to friends! We are all humans, and humans are social creatures. We all have an emotional need to interact and build good social connections with others.
After a day of hard work in the office, don’t you long for a companion over dinner or drinks to laugh about memories you and your companions once shared? Don’t you wish to have a listening ear to hear about the latest updates in your life or about your worries?
We are living in a world with a population of over 6 billion. We can’t expect to survive everyday alone or live in isolation!
Face to face interaction, in this case, is so important. Because it can act as a stress reliever or mood-boosting session. Personally, I like to reach out to my family members first because luckily, I come from a loving, understanding family. You may also prefer hanging with friends, and that is perfect too, as long as they are human beings whom you can have a heart to heart conversation with!
Reaching out to connect with others isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, most people are delighted and flattered if you trust them to share your worries with! Do not worry about being a burden to others, my dear.
If you are thinking, “I don’t have a friend that I can confide in…”, there are other ways to build new friendships through joining hobbies, volunteering or even when walking your dog! Here are some tips I found on forging a new friendship.
In our daily lives, we will be meeting so many people and there are so many chances to interact with others face to face. Saying hi to your neighbors; while waiting for the bus or subway to your work location, or even the waiter serving your morning coffee. A simple eye contact, smile or small talk goes a long way to start your day on a good note!
2. Start your morning the right way!
How you would start your day really sets the tone for the rest of your day.
If you get going at full speed right after waking up, the chances of you losing control of your feelings is much stronger. Especially with our fast-paced of life, we tend to gather our future worries and troubles in our minds, causing much unwanted stress. This perceived loss of power over our lives eventually results in negative thoughts snowballing quickly.
I would recommend you to start your day by moving slow, by having a lighthearted and uplifting conversation with your family members. Then making yourself a cup of coffee while listening to the radio or reading your favorite magazine.
Picture taken from https://candescentcandles.com/products/good-morning-coffee
This can make a big difference in how your whole day will go. Personally, I like to spend my mornings listening to helpful podcasts or soft music over breakfast. Then I’ll pick up my pace after leaving home for school!
3. Staying active
Your body and your soul are intrinsically linked. As you improve on your physical fitness, you’ll also experience better mental health. The reason being physical exercises release endorphins, which are good chemicals released that lifts your mood and gives you more energy. Many studies have documented the major positive impacts of regular exercises on our mental and emotional well-being. Besides better mental health, there are also several other positive side effects of exercising, mainly relieving stress, improved memory and a better night of sleep. Don’t look down on exercising!
BUT what if I just hate to exercise…
Well.. You aren’t alone in this journey. I’ve also given up on exercising so many times, and ended up being a lazy girl. It is normal to be unwilling to get out of the couch and to go for a jog on the treadmill. But when I found the motivation to exercise for 1 day, 2 days, then 3 days consecutively, it slowly got easier and easier. I’ve gotten better control over my lifestyle and mind and hence, would love for you to experience it too!
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits of being more active. Exercising can be as simple as taking a walk during lunchtime to the park, walking around the entire 6 storey shopping mall while shopping or even dancing to your all-time favorite song in the comfort of your home.
Have a dental appointment tonight 2 blocks down the street? Sure, pick up your wallet and take a short stroll instead of a usual drive. I strongly believe that exercising can be incorporated to our daily lifestyles. We do not have to go the extra mile to make time to really exercise initially.
You don’t have to break out in sweats or make every muscle ache to consider as exercising. A modest amount of physical activities regularly makes a big difference to your mental well-being and it is something that you can do right now!
Tips to getting into an exercise routine:
Get inspired. Pick up a fitness magazine or watch a YouTube exercise channel. Sometimes reading about fitness or watching others exercising can motivate us to move our bodies. My recent inspiration is Emi Wong, who is a full time YouTuber who specializes in keeping fit and recommending exercise workouts for all to follow!
Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days. If it’s easier, two 15-minute sessions can be just as effective. Start now just by taking a walk in the park or dancing to your favorite song.
Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs. Some examples are walking, running, swimming, weight training, martial arts, or dancing.
Harness the power of the community. Having someone there for us through our exercise journey helps to keep motivation strong. Support can be found through numerous online fitness communities.
You can also try working out with friends either in person or remotely using fitness apps that let you track and compare your progress with each other. I am currently using Runkeeper to track my daily jogs with my friend and am motivated by my progress thus far! ?
Here’s my bite sized infographic, if you liked it, feel free to share it!
4. Have a healthy diet
Eating well is a way to get good mental well-being.
Studies found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants. Good nutritional intake is also encouraged at an early age as it was found that a poor diet is linked to poorer mental health in children.
What constitutes a healthy diet then? NHS provided a useful Eatwell Guide that we can all follow. But the basic rule is that we should all drink lots of water, eat more fruits, meat and vegetables and definitely less junk food!
Picture taken from http://www.comiccompany.co.uk/
For me, I’ve always made sure that I’ll have a full meal every 5-6 hours or so when I am awake. Because it helps me to think and feel better when my belly is not empty. This may sound like a boring habit, but we tend to neglect it so often. It sure takes conscious effort to maintain a healthy diet.
P.S If you’re following the tips that I am recommending accordingly, you would probably be eating quite a bit after exercising (tip 3)! ? Do make sure that you’re having a balanced diet though!
5. Get a good sleeping routine – Never skimp on sleep!
This is pretty obvious of course..
A good night’s sleep can have a big, big impact on your feelings the next day. Getting your beauty sleep daily, makes you feel less tired, tensed or irritated at the smallest things.
Sleep not only helps to repair our physical body, but it also helps to improve our processing of information. On the other hand, poor sleep leads to a weaker immune system and several mental problems such as anxiety and depression.
Picture taken from https://www.nativerituals.com/blogs/news/beauty-sleep-is-real
How then do I get a good night’s sleep? An advice for all is to adjust the lighting, temperature and noise level in your bedroom. The perfect bedroom atmosphere suggested would be to have low levels of lighting and noise, and warm temperature. However, different people have different preferences for their perfect bedroom atmosphere. Some may fall asleep faster with white noises playing in the background, or to sleep in an air-conditioned room.
Recently, I’ve found a new way to help me sleep better. I am always snuggled into this weighted blanket and falling into a deep sleep in less than half an hour! Perhaps it’s the feeling of security like someone is hugging me to sleep or it’s just psychological. But I’m just glad that it calms me down at night and is working really well for me!
For those suffering from insomnia for quite a while, perhaps changing your bedroom atmosphere can’t be of much help. A solution for you may be to explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) through a professional’s recommendation.
On a side note, I’ve also written an article on the effects of insomnia and what you can do to overcome it. Do check it out here!
6. If you’re feeling provoked or upset, know what to do next!
Sometimes something can still get under your skin and hurt you. The best thing you can do is to rise above your circumstances.
Two things that have helped me with that challenge are:
Letting it out. Everyone’s preference of letting it out is different. Some people prefer to let that issue out into the light by talking it over with someone close and to find solutions for it. Some just need time to brood over the situation and to find a healthier perspective on it.
Others may find an avenue in letting it out through music. On one hand, I have friends who are metal-heads, who enjoy spending their free time listening to heavy metal songs and just screaming along to the lyrics in their own bedrooms. Other than the metal-heads, I have some soft-spoken friends who listen to classical music or watch ASMR to calm their heads down. We just need to find a way to let out and let go of what’s pulling us down.
Improving your self-esteem. I have realized that with stronger self-esteem, things drag me down less and they don’t ruin my day as much anymore. Rather than bottling up anger and stress, I have learned to appreciate my self-esteem and prioritize my metal well-being, Negativity from others bounces off me much more often instead. If you want to practical help, then have a look at this How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big. It is one of my favorite books currently, both entertaining and enlightening! I gained many insights on human psychology and learned practical steps on picking myself up after meeting failure.
Initially, it may be hard to stop the negative flow of thoughts. This shift takes time.
Be patient with yourself, and first try to think of let go of negativity. See if you can catch yourself being annoyed at others, focusing on failures, complaining about work, or criticizing yourself or your body. When you observe these thoughts, let it out and find ways to improve on yourself.
Positive mental health is a result of being contented with your life.
Think of it as taking two steps forward after your one step back. ?
7. Seeking professional’s help
The past 7 tips are small habits you can use to build a positive mental health. However, if you have tried everything but nothing seems to be working for you, perhaps it’s time for you to make a visit to the doctor. During the consultation, the doctor will be able to diagnose what exactly is the problem and provide effective solutions for you asap!
Solutions may come in the form of medication, support groups or a wide variety of psychotherapy treatments such as CBT and interpersonal therapy.
If you or someone whom you love is suffering from mental illness, treatment is available! Don’t feel shy to seek help!
8. Give ASMR a try!
If you have taken a read at my other articles before, you would know that I am a fan of ASMR because it helps me to relax and destress after a long day in school.
There are many benefits of ASMR such as having a positive impact on our mood and helping us to calm down in times of stress.
Catch some examples of ASMR in the videos below and let me know what you think of them! ?
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Life is not always easy, and sometimes we get handed a bushel of lemons. However, it is our own perspective that ultimately determines if we will drudge through life in an unmotivated and sour attitude, or to rise above our circumstances.
I hope that these 8 tips are of good help to you achieving positive mental health!
If your mental state starts affecting your physical state, please get help. Reliance on long term medication or drinking are not effective solutions. Achieving positive mental health is only possible through conscious efforts of following appropriate tips and seeking professional help.
Having a condition and getting help for it is nothing to be frowned upon! ?