When most people think about their state of health, they usually consider their physical wellness – including how they look, how much they weigh, and their level of agility, or ability to complete certain tasks. However, as a culture, we don’t give anywhere near as much attention or focus to the state of our mental health, which actually encompasses much more than you may think.
To enjoy a state of enhanced well-being – one where you’re healthy, happy, and satisfied with your life – it's important to also give significant attention to your mental health. What does this include? Your mental health is the state of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It’s basically how you think, feel, and act.
Of course, your mental health and your physical health also go very much hand-in-hand. Things such as consuming a nutritious diet and exercising on a regular basis are important for stress management and full-body wellness. In this article, we’ll go over our top tips to help you nourish a positive, healthy mindset, especially in light of the unique circumstances we’re living in right now.
Remember that just like with your physical health, maintaining great mental health should be a daily practice that you approach mindfully – with purposeful attention. This is because if you don’t acknowledge it – and you do end up suffering with some mental lows – it may undermine all of the great things you’ve been doing to get your physical health in order.
Pay attention to the following tips and give consideration to them every day to stay ahead of the game and nourish great mental health – for enhanced total-body wellness!
7 Tips For a Healthy Mental State & Complete Wellness
1) Connect with others (and help others connect)
First, staying consistently connected is extremely important to mental health. Especially in light of the current stay-at-home measures, loneliness is a real, and potentially serious problem. It’s not just about having as many relationships as possible, it’s about cultivating meaningful relationships full of love, trust, understanding and compassion.
Along with your family and friends, it’s also helpful to connect with like-minded individuals who share the same values and are working towards the same goals. Joining online groups such as the 310 Nutrition Community can help keep you motivated and encouraged during times when you’re hitting a wall in your health initiatives, or looking for creative ways to stay on track with your health and fitness goals. In addition, it’s something that can be utilized right now, as a way to stay healthy in the midst of social isolation measures, whereas most face-to-face contact isn’t possible.
In addition to that, we recommend making virtual face-to-face communication a big part of your life, at least until you can engage in the real thing again. And while you’re working on keeping yourself connected, reach out to others who you think may be isolated – because part of human connection is treating others the way we would want to be treated.
2) Nutrition matters
Next, you probably already know that what you eat matters, not only for your physical state, but also for your mental state. Some foods are not only amazing for keeping your body healthy and your immune system strong, but also for supporting emotional balance, stress management, and a positive mental state.
The goal should be to eat a diet that includes as many fresh, whole foods as possible, as balance is key. It's important to consume a healthy balance of macronutrients (protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats), as well as an abundance of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). However, when it comes to diet, taking things to an extreme can lead to negative consequences related to mental health. We recommend learning about intuitive eating so you can find a balance between healthy eating and indulging!
In addition, we recommend paying attention to some of the best foods that may help manage stress and anxiety. Some of our favorite recipes with these foods are this Mochalicious Shake and this Tropical Turmeric Immunity Boost Shake!
3) Exercise is a must
Next, exercise is essential, so it's important to figure out how to make it work for you and your schedule (especially if you’re very busy). If you don’t have time for long bouts of activity, squeezing in what you do have time for can still make a big difference in how you look and feel.
This is because, when you participate in physical activity, your body releases hormones called endorphins, that have both mood-boosting and stress-relieving properties. That’s why if you’re looking for natural ways to help combat anxiety and stress, exercise can be a powerful method.
Although aiming for at least 30 minutes of some type of physical activity every day is a great goal, keep in mind that even just 5 minutes of aerobic exercise or cardio can potentially help lower anxiety, so start small if needed! Strengthen your body and mind with quick, effective routines like this 15-20 minute core yoga ball workout, or these easy at-home workouts for all fitness levels.
4) Rest is also a must (including great sleep)
Next, rest is vitally important, and this involves more than just getting enough sleep (though that is a big part of it). Rest is also recognizing when your schedule is overloaded and you need to reorganize and reprioritize your life to better fit your goals and values – so that you also have time to do hobbies and activities that you enjoy, but which are also restful.
Things such as knitting, gardening, cooking, and organizing can not only contribute to daily physical activity, but they can also provide much-needed mental satisfaction, and a sense of life purpose if they’re things you’re good at and enjoy. Restful activities are therefore great for both the body and the mind.
Sleep is also very important, yet everyone has different needs in this area. Listen to your body, but know that it’s recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to get over 7 hours for those age 20 and up. The quality of sleep is just as important as the length, however, so try to develop a healthy bedtime routine, where you wind down from the day, and put phones and computers away for at least an hour or two before hitting the sheets. In addition, sticking to a sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day) can help to get better sleep and promote higher energy throughout the day.
5) Manage stress like a pro
Along with good nutrition, exercise, great self-care, and connecting with others, there are added measures you can take every day to help manage your stress levels. The bottom line is that everyone feels a certain amount of stress, but it’s important to first recognize it, and then keep those levels under control.
Practices such as meditation, bringing your attention to the present (with sounds, sensations, tastes and smells), and dwelling on intentionally positive thoughts can all help with stress management. In addition, deep breathing techniques can also greatly help. Close your eyes and take 10 deep breaths, counting to four as you inhale, holding your breath as you count to four, and then exhaling for another four. This can help physically calm both the body and mind when you're feeling overwhelmed.
6) Be grateful (and express it)
Next, being grateful can be another extremely beneficial technique for improving mental health, along with one that’s easy to utilize every day, and take advantage of quickly. Suddenly being grateful for your health, your family, your job, your house, or whatever it may be can have a powerful stress-busting effect, and potentially help manage anxiety or worry. It also helps greatly to write down the things you’re grateful for, and look at the list often. If you make it a practice to write down at least a few things a day, you can start to make gratitude a habit, which can lead to improved overall mental wellness, happiness and well-being.
7) Challenge yourself (and see it through)
Finally, one of the best ways to improve your mental state and increase satisfaction with your life, is to constantly look for new ways that you can personally improve and grow. Being able to pinpoint an area of growth, make a goal for how to become better, and then see it through to completion is one of the best ways to gain confidence and purpose as you age.
Think of the values that you hold, and areas where you may fall short in meeting those values. These are great places to begin to take steps in the right direction of where you would like to be, from where you are today. Start small… don’t expect huge changes overnight. Instead, think of it as a journey, and have lots of fun in the process, including adding in lots of laughing! In general, laughter is a surefire way to boost “feel-good” hormones, bust stress, and ensure you aren’t taking anything too seriously!
Want more tips and tricks for your happiest, healthiest life? Get additional in-depth articles on nutrition and fitness along with delicious, clean recipes on the 310 Nutrition Blog.