Maintaining or improving your mental health can be challenging. However, with the right tools and information, you can take steps to care for your emotional well-being.


Do Something You Like

If you find yourself struggling with your mental health in a particular moment, stop what you are doing and do something relaxing or distracting. Immersing yourself in an activity will help you to avoid ruminating on whatever is bothering you. If you find yourself feeling down all day, make the effort to do things that bring you joy. Whether it’s taking a walk outdoors or talking to a friend, reminding yourself of the things you enjoy can help make a hard day seem less daunting.

Be Aware of Your Inner Critic

Sometimes those who struggle with mental health can be especially critical of themselves. If you notice unhealthy self-criticism in the moment, stop and remind yourself of your accomplishments. Remembering the things you like about yourself and the special qualities you possess can help reinforce the good changes you are trying to make. We have all heard the saying, “Treat others as you wish to be treated.” We should also treat ourselves well. Ask yourself, “Would I be this critical if my close friend had done or thought that?” Odds are the answer is “probably not”.

Phone a Friend

Friends are a great sort of support and comfort for blue moments or grey days. Short-term issues are often soothed by a friendly face, or anyone who will listen. It’s important to remember, however, that friends or relatives are not always the best source of support and advice for more chronic issues. People who love and care for you are more likely to give you a biased opinion on the situation and cannot always separate their own feelings for you from their opinion. If your problem is more chronic, consider obtaining professional advice from a licensed or medically referred professional.

Take a Break

Sometimes when we are having a bad day, many large tasks can make a day seem intimidating. Remember Rome was not built in a day, and handling large tasks means taking breaks and coming back again with fresh eyes. We can often tire ourselves out working solely on one task, becoming easily frustrated and self-critical when we are already feeling stressed. Rather than just pushing on, walk away for a few minutes and come back refreshed. Breaking down large projects into achievable parts can help you work through any task.


Eat Well

We all know that eating healthy can make us feel better, but frequently, we don’t realize how what we eat affects our bodies. Eating right during the day can help you manage your blood sugar to stabilize energy and increase serotonin in your brain. It is okay to treat yourself occasionally. Constant, unhealthy eating, though, can trigger anxiety and other stress-related health disorders. When your mental state affects your ability to shop for groceries or cook meals, use strategies to make eating healthy as easy as possible. Take advantage of grocery pickup, delivery services, or have a friend help with your shopping. Find options that require less prep, like healthy meal kits or pre-chopped vegetables. Drink lots of water also and consider reducing or cutting out caffeine and alcohol.

Be Active

According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that the psychological effects of exercise can improve mood and reduce anxiety. Not only does exercise provide a great mental distraction, when you exercise your brain releases endorphins that boost your mood and leave you feeling less stressed and anxious. Remember, exercise does not necessarily mean hitting the track or treadmill. Any kind of physical activity can help improve your mindset. If the gym does not seem like a fit for you, you can always start a game of basketball, go for a hike, or take a bike ride. Even smaller acts like dancing to music, walking around the block, or exercising along with a YouTube video are accessible options.

Talk It Out

Keeping your struggles to yourself can be detrimental. Whether you choose counseling or a support group, having a professional to talk to can help you manage your thoughts and struggles. A licensed specialist has been trained to be objective and supportive in a way friends and family are not. It may be hard for some people struggling with mental health to open up but talking with others who understand your struggles can help you feel less lonely and better about your choice to focus on your mental health. Therapy is a great resource for those who wish to learn coping skills and discover other ways to regulate their thoughts and feelings.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Your quality of sleep and your mood are strongly connected. According to Harvard Health, problems with sleep are more likely to occur in patients with psychiatric disorders. Often, sleep deprivation can cause irritability and can lessen your body’s ability to function normally. Lack of sleep can affect your body’s immune system, weight, hormones, and the ability to release insulin. The Mayo Clinic suggests adults get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Other factors such as pregnancy, previous sleep deprivation, or illnesses may mean a person needs more sleep than the recommended average. If you experience trouble falling or staying asleep, talk with your doctor about natural remedies, over-the-counter sleep aids, or prescription medication to help you get better sleep. 

Set Realistic Goals

It is great to have goals and set plans to achieve them, and it is okay if those plans don’t go as expected. While setting goals may help in many aspects of life, for those who struggle with mental, emotional, or behavioral issues setting goals can be an important step in maintaining stability. Do not focus too hard on your goals to the exclusion of your daily care needs. Instead, set goals that are specific to what you want to accomplish, and that will enrich your daily life. 

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