How to Improve Your Mental and Emotional Health
Your mental health and emotional well-being are important aspects of your overall health. In fact, they are just as important as your physical health. Your mental health can be affected by medical conditions such as depression. Environmental factors, such as your job, also make an impact. Your emotional health can be related to your social life, your romantic life, and your own mindset. No matter what your situation is, you can take steps to improve your mental and emotional health. First, make it a priority. Once you evaluate your needs, you can begin finding ways to meet them. You can also ask family and friends to help you on your way towards improved mental health.
Making Your Mental Health a Priority
Take a self-assessment.In addition to traditional intelligence, everyone has what is known as "emotional intelligence" or EQ. EQ refers to how well you understand your emotions and actions. Figuring out your EQ is a great place to start if you are looking to improve your mental and emotional well being.
- You can find online assessment tools to help you figure out your results.
- A mental health specialist can also help you determine your EQ. This will help you figure out which areas need the most improvement.
- For example, maybe you'll learn that you are not great at acknowledging your emotions. That could give you a starting point for improvement.
List your priorities.Take some time to look at the big picture. Are there areas of your life where you know you could make improvements? Devote some of your attention to figuring out which of these areas is most important to you.
- One of your priorities might be developing a more positive relationship with your sister.
- Another priority might be figuring out how to maintain a healthy work-life balance, good physical health, fulfilling relationships, and a satisfying spiritual life.Figuring out what you most want to improve can help you figure out the most productive path.
Set goals.After you have completed your self-assessment, you can clearly identify the areas you would like to focus on improving. Take time to set some clear, attainable goals. These can be both long term and short term goals.
- For example, maybe you will set a goal of meditating for 10 minutes every day. That is a short term goal.
- You might say, "I would like to feel more confident in my conflict resolution strategies by the end of the year." That's more of a long term goal.
- Write down your goals. This will help you solidify them and make you more likely to commit.
Process your emotions.An important part of improving your emotional well-being is learning to acknowledge your emotions. Sometimes it might feel simpler to shove aside an uncomfortable emotion. However, it is important to process your emotions. Processing your emotions is a multi-step process. This process includes:
- Sensing. This is when you notice the way you are feeling. There might be a physical sensation associated with this emotion. For example, you might feel sad and notice a feeling of heaviness or tightness in your chest.
- Naming. This is when you apply a name to the emotion. For example, you might decide that what you are feeling is sadness.
- Attributing. This is when you try to find the source of the emotion that you are having. For example, you might attribute a feeling of sadness to a bad day at work or a falling out with a friend.
- Evaluating. This is when you think about how having the emotion makes you feel. For example, you might note that you feel angry for feeling sad or uncomfortable for feeling sad. This may be a result of your background or culture.
- Acting. This is when you decide what you are going to do to express or cope with the emotion. For example, if you are feeling sad, then you might decide to write about it, go for a walk, call someone, or just sit and do nothing for a while.
Learn how to identify and deal with your triggers.Everyone has different triggers. Yours might be certain people, situations, or places.To cope with your triggers, take some time to figure out what they are and develop plans for how to deal with them.
- For example, you might note that you get anxious whenever you are around your sister, so she might be a trigger for you. Therefore, you might develop a plan to cope when you are around her, such as keeping to light topics of conversation, setting a time limit for your visits, or bringing a friend along to act as a source of support.
Gather information.Avoid the stigma that mental health issues are somehow not "real" problems. Your mental and emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Take some time to learn about the importance of your mental health.
- Head to the library. Look for some books about the value of taking good care of your mental health.
- Research different ways to improve your emotional well being. For example, you might visit a yoga studio to ask them about the mental benefits of practicing yoga.
Choosing Healthy Activities
Have fun.Good news! Experts say that playing might actually be good for you. A great way to boost your mood is to make time to do something fun.Think of some new ways to enjoy yourself.
- Organize a game night. Invite your friends over for board games or cards.
- Head to the park. Swinging is just as much fun for adults as it is for kids.
- Make more jokes. Try something as simple as saying, "Lovely weather, isn't it?" while you're waiting for the bus in a downpour. It may not be original, but the act of making a joke can improve your mood.
Be creative.Try to get in touch with your artistic side. Creative activities can be very therapeutic, and can also serve as mood boosters. Consider sketching as a relaxing activity.
- Take an art class. Contact your local community center for details. This would also be a great way to make new friends.
- Get a coloring book. Kids aren't the only ones who enjoy coloring. Adult coloring books can help you relax and unwind.
- Listen to music. Or, learn to play an instrument. You could find a group class or hire an individual teacher.
Volunteer.Giving back to others is a great way to make yourself feel good. Volunteering can boost your mood and improve your emotional health. Plus, it's important to help others. It's a win-win.
- Choose something that interests you. For example, if you love animals, consider volunteering at your local animal shelter.
- Volunteering can also serve as a way to meet new people. You might even make some new friends!
Spend time outside.Nature is a natural mood enhancer. Being outdoors can help you slow down and relax, which is great for your mental health. Make it a point to head outdoors frequently.
- Take a break from work. Instead of eating at your desk, walk to a nearby park to eat lunch on nice days.
- Go exploring. Check out nearby state parks and head out for a hike.
- Ask a friend to join you on a bike ride.
Learn to meditate.Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and tension. Commit to adding meditation to your routine. If you're not ready to try it daily, begin by adding two to three brief sessions per week. They can be short--even a 5-minute meditation is helpful.
- Download an app that has guided meditations. You can choose the length you want.
- Morning and night are both great times to meditate. Just make sure to choose a quiet spot and wear comfortable clothing.
- Try to clear your mind. Choose a mantra to repeat, such as "Om".
Practicing Physical Self-Care
Manage your stress.The mind-body connection is critical for maintaining good health. If you don't physically feel good, odds are good that your mental and emotional health will suffer, too. Take care to keep your body in good health. One of the most important things you can do is to learn to control your stress.
- Take a time-out. For example, if you are having an argument with your partner, say, "I'm going to take a walk around the block to cool down before we continue this discussion."
- Find coping mechanisms. Everyone experiences stress. The key is to be able to handle it.
- Try different techniques such as slowly counting to 10 when you feel stressed. You could also try listening to music or taking a relaxing bath.
- Focus on your breath. Breathe slowly and intentionally, in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help slow a racing heart rate often caused by stress.
Exercise.Physical activity produces endorphins, which boost your mood. Regular exercise can help you to manage stress, feel more confident, and improve your overall health. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Find an activity you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick to the program.
- Do you like to dance? Try a Zumba class.
- Socialize during your workouts. Ask a friend to go for a long walk while you catch up on gossip.
Eat a healthy diet.Food can definitely impact your mood and your overall mental health. Take care to stick to a healthy diet. Make sure that you eat plenty of fruits and veggies each day. Combine these with lean proteins and complex carbs.
- Certain foods are mood boosters. Try adding salmon, walnuts, and avocados to your diet.
- You should also look for blueberries and leafy greens, such as kale.
- Avoid foods that can negatively impact your mood. Try to stay away from sugary snacks and fried food.
- It's also a good idea to limit your alcohol and caffeine intake.
Get enough sleep.You won't feel well if you don't get enough rest. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority. Most adults need between seven and nine hours per night.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. This will help your body adjust to a regular sleep schedule.
- Limit electronics before bed. Power down the laptop and the television about an hour before bedtime. Avoid checking e-mail or social media late at night.
- Lack of sleep can make you irritable, anxious, and unable to focus.
Connecting With Others
Be social.Socialization is an important part of feeling your best. Being social doesn't mean that you have to go out every night. It just means that you should make an effort to regularly interact with people.
- Say hi to your neighbors. Striking up a pleasant conversation can increase feelings of happiness.
- Meet new people. Try joining a local book club if you love to read.
- Make plans. Put some effort into building your network of friends. If you enjoy chatting with someone in yoga class, ask if they want to grab a smoothie after class sometime.
Get a pet.Animals are a wonderful source of companionship. They can also be entertaining and funny. Best of all, pets are a great source of unconditional love.
- Choose the pet that is right for your lifestyle. For example, if you love to hike, pick a dog that can go with you.
- Taking care of a cat can make you feel needed, which is important for good mental health.
Talk to friends and family.Make sure to connect with the people in your life who are important to you. Your loved ones can support you when you're down, and celebrate with you when something good happens. Make it a point to spend time with the people in your personal network.
- Reach out to someone you haven't seen in a while. Pick up the phone and say, "Hi, it's been a while. Let's get together and catch up!"
- Lean on loved ones when you need to. Don't be afraid to say, "Bill, I've been feeling low lately. Do you have some time this week to get together and talk?"
Seek professional help.Sometimes you might feel like nothing you try is working. If you think you might have a mental health condition, consider seeing a medical professional. For example, if you have been depressed, look for a counselor.
- Therapy can be really helpful if you are dealing with issues such as anxiety or depression. Ask your doctor for a recommendation.
- You can also visit your primary care physician. Ask if there could be a physical reason behind your emotional issues.
- Be patient with yourself. Improving any aspect of your health can take time.
- Don't forget to laugh--it's good for you!
- Be willing to talk about your feelings.
- Make time to take care of yourself.
Video: 38 Ways To Improve Your Emotional Health
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