Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Are traffic issues a minor inconvenience to you, or do they propel you into full-fledged road rage? Do you prepare for the worst in life, or anticipate the good that’s to come?
Your responses to these three questions may provide a clue as to your mental wellness (not to be mistaken for the presence or absence of a mental illness). Mental wellness is “a positive concept relating to attributes that are present in a person’s life, including emotional well-being, the capacity to live a full and creative life, and the flexibility to deal with life’s inevitable challenges,” according to Peak Mental Wellness and Counseling.
Your mental state is just as important as your physical health when it comes to optimal well-being. If you feel that your mental wellness could use some attention, consider these tips:
- Get Sleep — Proper sleep is critical for a healthy mind and body. Get a good night’s sleep each night (8 uninterrupted hours is optimal). If you have trouble sleeping occasionally, watch your caffeine intake and then get help. Your healthcare provider will have options for you, which may include melatonin. (You can find 18 tips to help you sleep soundly here.)
- Eat Healthy — Balanced, nutritious meals lay the groundwork for optimal well-being. Be careful to limit sugar and fat. Try emphasizing lean meats, fruits and vegetables, which can boost your mood and immune system.
- Stay Physical — A strong and active body will do wonders for your mental wellness. Exercise stimulates your “feel good” hormones and reduces stress. Make active time a priority in your life. Even the little things matter: take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from the store or enjoy a walk on your lunch hour.
- Avoid Stress — Stress can be overwhelming in our fast-paced world. Try to avoid it by being realistic about what you can do in a day. You should learn to feel comfortable saying no. Many people benefit from the practice of mindfulness or meditation. (Find out more about natural solutions for stress here.)
- Enjoy Life — That’s right, laugh! Laughing is therapeutic; it boosts the immune system and reduces anxiety. Try to do more things that bring you joy, learn to relax, and stay connected with friends and family. Enjoying life will help keep you focused on the positive. (Find out how smiling can change your life here.)
- Help Others — Doing things for others puts life in perspective. It makes you feel lucky, empowered and fulfilled. Even a smile can make someone else’s day better.
- Stop Self-Medicating — Alcohol, cigarettes and drugs only provide temporary escapes. If you are struggling, get help from a trusted professional.
Other suggested ideas for improving your mental wellness include: avoiding clutter, forgetting about keeping up with the Joneses, not bottling up anger, not working too much, getting outside, trying EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and letting go of perfectionism.
Check out this video from Brainsmart titled Look After Your Brain for a great overview!
There are supplements that seem to help some people maintain more positive moods. As with any medication, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking any nutritional supplements.
- Vitamin D may support mood and memory.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may help with mood, memory loss and attention issues.
- Acetyl-l-carnitine may support mental clarity, focus, mood and memory.
- Melatonin may help with occasional sleeplessness.
PLEASE NOTE: If you feel that your mental wellness has deteriorated to a point beyond your control, it is critical that you reach out to a healthcare provider to get screened. It is always best to address your mental health early, as it can get worse if left untreated. According to Mental Health America, 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. And, 50 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their lives. Things to watch out for include: too much sleep or trouble sleeping; trouble focusing or having racing thoughts; changes in appetite; isolating yourself from others; losing interest in things you once enjoyed; and irritability or having a short temper.
Do you have a mental wellness tip that may inspire others? Tell us about how it is making a difference in your life. We’d love to hear from you!