Five Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

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Don’t let your hectic daily life take over your own well-being. Whether you have a mental illness or are just stressed, there are things you can do to clear your head and gain your strength. Here are five ways to improve your mental health:

Exercise strengthens and tones your body and causes your brain to release chemicals called endorphins that lift your mood. Finding the time to exercise may seem like a daunting task, but there are ways to make it part of your routine, and even something that you enjoy. Go for a walk during your lunch break. March in place or do push-ups and sit-ups during the commercial breaks of your favorite shows. Play with your dog in the park or join an adult soccer league. Try new activities to find one that you like. Maybe you will find that you enjoy hiking or dancing, but don’t feel pressured to make the jump from power walker to marathon runner right away. Set your own pace and build from there. You can download workout podcasts and find free online guides that teach you how to exercise at home, even if you have little or no equipment.

Diaries aren’t just for little girls. Keep a journal where you can write down your thoughts. This will help you manage your feelings and emotions. Don’t judge yourself for what you write or think. No one is going to read it, and you don’t have to reread it. Write your thoughts down on a piece of paper and then shred it if you wish. Open a blank word document and type until you feel better. If you want, you can then delete the text or the document itself. You are writing for yourself, no one else.

Spend time with others. Facebook and instant messaging are great for keeping in touch with people, but they should not replace face-to-face interaction. Meet with a friend for coffee instead of just having a conversation via text message. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, not those who bring you down. Join clubs or groups to help you meet new people. Volunteering is a great way to give back in a social setting.

Learn to take care of yourself. It is easier to focus on your mental health if you are not physically ill. Feeling good will boost your self-esteem and make you hold your head a little higher. Get enough sleep and eat right. Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Spend a little time in the sun each day. Learn to meditate or practice deep breathing exercises to clear your head. Take a bath or get a massage. Turn off your cell phone or put it on silent when you need a break. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to recharge.

You only get one shot, so get the most out of your life. Try new things and discover new passions. Plant that vegetable garden you always wanted or learn how to knit. Visit a museum or teach yourself a new language. Engage in activities that appeal to your creative mind, like painting or writing. Learn how to play an instrument or read a thriller novel. Practice cooking new recipes or baking. Find things that make you want to get out of bed in the morning.