Medical personnel realize the intricate connection between physical and mental health. Each of these influences the other. Most adults have daily responsibilities, such as work, school and family needs. In addition, they have personal goals they want to achieve. In order to do so, they need to take care of themselves physically and mentally. Good mental health helps people live a successful life and deal with stress. Even someone who does not struggle with a mental illness needs to implement strategies to maintain or improve their emotional well-being. People can implement these five tips for improving or maintaining their mental health.
Scientific studies have shown a powerful connection between nutrition and mental health. The foods people eat directly impact the brain. Much misinformation has been tossed around regarding a healthy diet. A healthy diet consists of eating the correct amount of calories from food choices in each of the basic food groups and limits salts, fats, sugars and alcohol. Some people need less or more of one food than others, depending on the person’s age and metabolism. For example, teen boys and pregnant women need a higher amount of protein than most other individuals. In addition to the benefits of overall physical health, some vitamins and minerals, such as B12, zinc and calcium, can contribute to improved mental health and can alleviate depression symptoms.
Physical activity helps improve mental health for most people. Studies have documented the continued health benefits of exercise for people of all ages. Exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system, helps with weight maintenances and can even help in the prevention of some diseases. When a person exercises, their body releases endorphins, which reduces stress and improves mood. Exercise also helps control weight.
Everyone needs rest in order to function during the day. Rest promotes healing in the body. People can establish good sleep patterns by setting a specific bed time and rising time. This helps the body stay on schedule. A nighttime pattern before bed can also let the body know that it’s time to wind down and sleep. Dairy and green vegetables can help regulate sleep as can regular mealtimes. However, heavy meals right before bed or caffeine, alcohol or cigarettes can interfere with sleep. A snack of cheese and fruit can keep people from night time hunger. A warm bath also provides relaxation at bedtime.
People feel stress for a variety of reasons, such as illness, an accident, grief or an emergency. Life in general often precipitates stress with many daily needs and concerns. Handling stress properly is a key to maintaining good mental health. Just a few symptoms of stress include depression, anxiety, short temper, and an inability to focus. By taking time to do what they enjoy for even 15 minutes a day, people can alleviate stress. Stress-busting activities can include calling a friend, taking a warm bath, reading, walking and prayer or meditation.
Dealing with Unpleasant Emotions
People may not know how to deal with unpleasant emotions, such as grief and anger. They may not even realize they are angry or dealing with grief or know why. They may minimize the situation that led to the problem and think it’s not a big deal. When the emotions build up, they act out in ways that may even surprise themselves. Drinking too much and drug abuse can be one unhealthy coping mechanism. People need to express their emotions in healthy ways and talk about their feelings in order to maintain positive mental health.
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Kelly Fisher is a social worker and guest author at Best Social Work Programs, where she contributed to the guide to getting an online bachelors in social work.