Mental health is just as important as physical health but often gets overlooked. It’s easy to become consumed with work and other stressors in life that we fail to notice when things begin to take a toll on us. Mental health struggles are more common than you might think, with the majority of people experiencing some form of mental illness or another at some point in their lives. Don’t let your mental health suffer – protect it instead!
Keeping our mental health in check isn’t easy, but it can be done.
Genius Way to Protect Mental Heath
1. Find Something More Profound to Root Yourself in
There’s a long-held notion that the more chaotic your world becomes, the more rooted you must become. Otherwise, you will be uprooted by fear and uncertainty.
In times of crisis, you must find something more profound to root yourself in. We all need anchors to keep us grounded and centered when things get crazy. But in our society today, it’s easier than ever to lose sight of what really matters.
Having a personal philosophy is essential if you want to find something more profound to root yourself in. A personal philosophy gives you a place where you can go to ground yourself no matter what storms are raging around you.
An anchor that lifts your soul when it feels like the world is crashing down around you. A place where you can go when everything else is falling apart and everything inside of you feels like it’s coming unhinged.
Invest in Yourself
Invest in your faith if your family practices it, for example by reading religious texts or attending religious services. Learn more about the history of your faith and seek out long-term practitioners who can help you gain a deeper understanding of your beliefs. Often, pastors, imams, and rabbis make themselves available for spiritual direction or mentorship. Make time for prayer and devotion to your higher power every morning. End the day in the same way.
Whether or not you're non-religious, you may ground yourself with a demanding, absorbing practice like journaling, tai chi, or meditation. These techniques will boost and protect your mental health if you use them regularly. Tai chi is a healthful activity that you can learn to do in the early morning. Meditation is an excellent way to start your day or finish it. You can find a journaling guide virtually anywhere.
2. Replenish and Reboot Regularly
Workplace stress is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an essential part of our working lives; we wouldn’t be able to perform at the same high level if we didn’t care so much about our job and company. Stress can be a sign that things are going well—it means we care enough to push ourselves harder and raise the bar on our performance. But stress is also a natural response to challenging circumstances. When stress becomes chronic, however, it can have serious negative effects on your physical health as well as your mental wellbeing.
Take Time to Rest
According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, rested brains and bodies are crucial for optimal mental well-being. The following quote, which describes how important sleep is for maintaining mental health, is from that publication: “Although the brain mechanisms behind the connection between sleep and mental health are not yet understood, neuroimaging and neurochemical studies point to the importance of adequate sleep for maintaining mental and emotional well-being. While sleep deprivation is associated with negative thinking and feelings, adequate sleep appears to promote mental and emotional resilience.”
Throughout the day, replenish yourself by taking regular breaks. Stand up from your desk and walk outside for a quick break, or phone a friend for a brief chat. Every now and then, press 'pause' to allow your mind to reboot and begin anew. If you're uncertain whether you'll have difficulty taking a break, you may want to check out our Top Relaxation Tips, Tricks, and Resources.
3. Avoid Addiction
When it comes to avoiding addictive substances, most people think of drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. However, there are actually more common addictive substances out there that you probably don’t think about but might surprise you. For instance, alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world. It’s also a substance that has negative effects on your health when overused or combined with certain medications.
If you have an addiction to alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine, you should know that there are some things you can do to avoid these addictive substances while also helping yourself get clean and sober. Avoiding these things will make it easier for you to avoid addiction and manage any addictions you might have right now. Read on to learn more about how you can avoid these addictive substances.
Connection Between Mental Health and Addiction
One set of research featured in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience outlined the connection between mental health and the addiction to alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Researcher Marc-Antoine Crocq, of the Institute for Research in Neuroscience and Neuropsychiatry in Rouffach, France wrote: “Alcohol, nicotine and caffeine share several common features. Being palatable for their mild psychotropic properties, they are the most widely consumed drugs worldwide. As licit psychoactive drugs, they are used mostly by ‘normal’ people, in contrast to illicit ‘hard drugs,’ which are traditionally viewed as a problem for ‘abnormal’ people.”
In other words, because these substances are legal and considered ‘normal,’ people are more likely to become addicted to them. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of addiction when consuming these substances.
Too Much Pleasure is Addiction
We all know the obvious dangers of nicotine addiction. Additionally though, for the brain, an addiction to nicotine has negative effects. Crocq cited a study in rats that showed, “that nicotine produces selective degeneration in the medial habenula, a region with a dense concentration of nicotinic cholinergic receptors.” Any degeneration of the brain is bad for your overall mental health and should be avoided entirely.
What do you think of when you hear the word “addiction”? Drinking too much alcohol and becoming an alcoholic? Smoking too many cigarettes and getting lung cancer? Gambling so much that you lose all your money and cannot pay your bills anymore? Sure, these are all valid examples of what addiction is.
These things are addictive because they bring us pleasure. We like drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, and gambling because it gives us a rush we feel good about. But as with anything good in life, there is always a risk of going overboard with it.
Do everything you can to avoid addiction in the first place. If you find you’re already relying on drugs to get through the day, make it your number one priority to break the chains of addiction and protect your mental health.
4. Stay Together
A private condo full of food and supplies for your survival at birth isn’t how you got here. No, we came into this world in families, where we were born helpless and reliant on others for our survival. This wasn’t an accident, and it has much to teach us. Throughout our lives, we are not meant to become isolated from other people but to live in communities, care for our loved ones, and support each other as we journey forward.
People with a lonely disposition have an elevated risk of dementia, according to a 2012 report published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. The researchers discovered that those with a “perceived lack of social connections” had a higher cognitive decline over time among the 2,000 participants in the study. The phrase “we’re better together” has been repeated over and over. It's one of the most accurate adages ever coined.
Connect With Others
In addition to thriving and succeeding as individuals, human beings thrive and succeed as part of a community. Protect your mental health by connecting with your family, community, workplace, and friends.
It can be tough to establish connections if you don't usually do so. However, there's no excuse to avoid it. Every day, you should have at least one positive human interaction. You don't need a reason to do so. Give yourself a goal to make at least one positive human connection each day by saying hello to a neighbour, calling a friend, exchanging conversation with a coworker, or making small talk in line at the pharmacy.
Once you've been successful at establishing a daily connection, try spending a few hours a week with others in person. You might eat with friends or watch a movie with your grandchildren. Meeting other people regularly will help maintain and improve your mental health.