The Importance of Mental Health
Whether you’re working long hours, in the depths of class assignments, parenting small children, or planning for a new baby, stress can creep in and take a toll on your mind and body. Mental health typically refers to a person’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Your mental health affects you in many ways. It impacts how you feel, the types of decisions you make, and how you respond to the inevitable stresses of life.
There are many practical steps you can take to improve your own mental health. Here are 7 of them.
7 Ways to Boost Your Mental Health
1. Get outside and move
Studies show that being outside in nature improves a person’s ability to focus and promotes calmness. Moving your physical body through space also promotes blood flow through your brain, which enables you to think clearly and make rational decisions. The same study showed increased outside time was connected with more positive social interactions.
2. Connect with others
According to Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, “Lacking social connection carries a risk that is comparable, and in many cases, exceeds that of other well-accepted risk factors, including smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, obesity, physical inactivity, and air pollution.”
Studies have shown that healthy, long-term relationships improve and even lengthen an individual’s life. (If you’re looking for ways to build healthy relationships, you’re not alone! Click here to learn about our free Connect program.)
3. Take deep breaths
Breathing can help your body and mind calm down. Deep breathing actually supplies your brain with more oxygen and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes calmness. So if you feel stress closing in, pause what you’re doing and take some deep breaths. (Hint: you can encourage your kids to do this too! Tell them to imagine they’re blowing bubbles or smelling their favorite foods.)
4. Prioritize good sleep
It’s been documented that adequate sleep helps improve mood, concentration, decision making, and social interactions. According to the CDC, adults need a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night.
5. Choose a healthy diet
A poor diet can cause fatigue and impaired decision-making. Processed foods and foods high in sugar can cause inflammation throughout the body, which can contribute to anxiety and depression. A well-balanced diet helps with rational thinking, concentration, and also boosts overall moods.
6. Limit social media
Studies have connected social media use with decreased sleep and increased depression and anxiety. These platforms, when used in moderation and with healthy boundaries, can be used in positive ways. But consider setting limits on your app usage (many apps have this option built in already) and avoiding screen time at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
7. Give back
Volunteering your time to help others or a cause you believe in has great benefits. It’s been shown to decrease stress levels and counteract anxiety and depression. Serving others has been proven to activate the reward center in your brain. That’s why you feel so good after doing something kind for someone else. (The Pregnancy Network has a wide variety of ways you can volunteer! Click here to learn more about ways to serve.)
Your Mental Health Matters
You’re not a one-dimensional person. That’s why at The Pregnancy Network we desire to serve you holistically. If you are pregnant, we are here for you. We can provide free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STD testing and treatment. At your appointment, you’ll meet with a Registered Nurse who will talk with you about your options, and also get you connected with community resources.
We understand the mental load of life can be difficult to carry alone. If you would like to find out more about counseling services in your area, you can contact Restoration Place Counseling by clicking here. We would love to partner with you on your journey toward improved mental health.