8 Mental Health Tips for Getting the Most Out of Life
Mental health is an often overlooked facet of wellness, especially in the lives of students who feel constantly pressured and controlled by external forces. If you can’t see it, so the thought process goes, there’s little point in acknowledging it.
This is an unhealthy way to look at mental health and an unhealthy way to live. In the following article, we’re going to help you overcome the pitfalls that lead to disaster. We’re also going to give you some surefire tips for staying on the right path. Let’s get started!
Defining Poor Mental Health
What does poor mental health look like? Mental disorders are one thing. They’re clearly defined by a set of symptoms, brain activities, and outcomes. But poor mental health is a little sneakier because it can be hiding under the surface of a person’s daily life never really revealing itself until a breaking point is reached. By then, it can be too late to mitigate the outcomes or do anything about it.
Here are some common signs and stressors indicative of poor mental health. If any of these are present, it’s time to stop and do something about it:
- You feel like giving up because you can’t get anything done.
- Your relationships are dragging you down instead of acting as a source of support.
- You can’t see the good in anything that happens to you.
- You’re falling behind in your studies.
- You are “letting yourself go” physically.
- You feel overly emotional but can’t explain why.
These are symptoms of an internal struggle you have to deal with, one way or another. Allowing them to continue unchecked is not sustainable for long-term growth and happiness. In a few moments, we’ll be talking about what you can do to regain control of things. But for now, let’s look at what good mental health looks like.
What Good Mental Health Can Do in Your Life
Good mental health allows you to accomplish your goals. It allows you to be there for other people. Loved ones who may be experiencing trials and struggles of their own. It also allows you to keep up with workload and move forward in your personal life or career.
Good mental health gives you a personal magnetism that draws the right kind of attention. And that attention can further feed your positivity and lead to even greater accomplishments down the road.
When things are clicking, you feel it. But to get there, do you leave it up to chance or take action? We think you already know the answer to that question. And in the next section, we’ll examine eight specific steps you can take to achieve the state of mind you’re looking for.
How to Achieve It
We’re about to discuss some proactive measures you can take to achieve good mental health. But before we do, we want to put a big asterisk (*) right here for all to see.
*The action steps you’re about to read are recommended for people who haven’t been formally diagnosed with an actual mental disorder or condition (i.e., severe depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.). While these action steps might feel helpful to such individuals, additional medical help should be sought as they are indicative of internal issues that can be controlled or treated through medication depending on the degree of severity.
In other words, these eight action steps are not fix-alls for every human brain. But they go a long way in helping the average person cope with the stressors and pressures of life. Now without further ado, the steps. They are:
1. Exercise Regularly
We’ve beat the drum often for this one because it’s so necessary to your performance in every aspect of life. Spiritual, physical, sexual, intellectual. The act of exercising releases endorphins that make you feel better emotionally. And that powers everything else that you do.
But how do you know if your exercise routine is “enough”? Well, you start by not comparing yourself to others. It’s nice that some people are capable of bench-pressing a truck or running two marathons back-to-back. However, that’s not necessary to optimal health. In fact, it can be dangerous if you’re constantly pushing your body beyond its limits. And it’s sort of tough to tell what those limits are.
The human body was not made to last forever. And while some things that you do can strengthen it to the point that it’ll hang around a little bit longer, there’s a tipping point that shouldn’t be crossed. Unfortunately, some people in “good shape” will not know they’ve crossed that tipping point until it’s too late.
So, as a general rule, try to stick with a 10,000 steps-per-day routine. But let that be your baseline. Always try to push yourself a little harder. Pay attention to how your body responds. And if you feel like you need a day or two off, take them. But by “off,” you should still be hitting your baseline. Otherwise, it’s too easy to fall back into bad habits.
2. Examine Your Relationships
Who are you dating or married to? Do you have any children together? Do you have plans for a life with them?
What about your parents? Do they lift you up when you’re feeling down or always find the negatives in everything?
Your friends? Do they understand your personal and professional priorities? If so, do they encourage those priorities or try to drag you away from them and into destructive behaviors? Or are you the one always trying to get them to ditch their studies or obligations?
You always should be reevaluating the usefulness of your relationships. Ask yourself if they’re feeding your well-being as much as they’re feeding on your well-being.
You may not be able to cut negative people out of your life altogether, but you can certainly start controlling the amount of time you give them the longer you go in life. It starts with observing the ways that each relationship is affecting you, for better or worse. If it’s worse, then it needs to go or change in a seriously drastic way.
3. Work Toward a Goal
A person without goals is a person without direction. No direction leads to nowhere. So make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you do, then it’s easy to map outcomes.
Every life needs both short-term and long-term goals. Sometimes the short-term goals will feed into the long ones. It’s easy to get frustrated when your goals aren’t being accomplished in a timely manner. But remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It usually takes incremental progress to reach any goal worth achieving. So have a goal, create a plan, and keep moving.
4. Be Thankful for What You Have
Having gratitude for what you do have in life makes it easier to get through the tough times and challenges. Otherwise, it’s too easy to get wrapped up in “pity parties” and defeatist attitudes. When that happens, you start predisposing yourself to loss. That is, it becomes easier to lose because that’s what you expect out of life.
But we all have somebody or something in life that keeps us going. Learning to be grateful for those things is important. Once you “discover” what or who your source for gratitude is, practice saying these words, “I’m truly thankful for [insert the name of person/thing/idea here].”
Don’t even say why. If you’re being honest about it, you’ll know that anyway. Keep the statement simple. If you don’t, your inner pessimist is liable to get carried away with the practice and turn it back around to a negative. There is no room for a “but” statement here. Just insert the source of positivity into that phrase and practice saying it each day.
Don’t give yourself a choice. Be grateful for what deserves your gratitude and don’t give the rest of it oxygen. Pretty soon you’ll have more positives in your life than negatives.
5. Reassess Your Life Regularly
This is a good idea just to keep tabs on your goals and relationships. It’s also needed to make sure you’re still working toward the ideals and objectives that are important to you.
People do change. And it’s possible that if you haven’t reevaluated what you want in life, you could be living someone else’s life. Even if that someone else is you!
6. Make Sleep Work for You
Eight hours per night is the typical recommendation, but you know your body better than most. If you notice that you can get by on less sleep, then try it out. Just pay extra attention to feelings of physical sluggishness or a degradation in mental awareness.
Sleep cycles are very important. Thankfully, technology has made it possible to track this and get more out of your sleep even when you don’t have time for the full eight hours. Install a sleep tracker on your phone, or use a website like Sleep-Calculator.com. These allow you to decide when you want to wake up and give you the optimal bedtime. Or, they will tell you the best time you wake up if you go to bed at a certain time.
Pay attention to how long it takes you to fall asleep as well and adjust for that whether you’re doing the best get-up or best go-to-bed times.
7. Do Other Things That Make You Feel Good About Yourself
This deserves its own mention because it can be different for everyone. Some people enjoy watching a baseball game on television. Others would rather head to the batting cages and take out some of their frustrations of the day on a baseball themselves. Others may like knitting, reading comic books/novels/short stories/poetry, or designing their own board games (yes, it’s a thing).
The key here is to tap into whatever makes you unique. Or at least not like other people in your circle of friends and acquaintances. In other words, take some time for yourself and make sure that time is spent doing the things you love. No one else.
8. Talk About It
We’re not saying you have to go to a psychiatrist. Simply find a friend and confidante whom you can trust. Make sure it’s someone that will really listen to you and not encourage your negative behaviors. Someone who’ll give you the hard truth when you need to hear it.
If you don’t have that kind of person in your life, you might consider going to a professional. But you probably do. Either way, find a way to talk about what you’re feeling when the pressures get to be too much. Otherwise, that negativity, confusion, and numbness will just linger inside of you, poisoning everything else.
Mental Health Fuels Success
Your mental health is like the control center on your journey to success. If it breaks down, so will everything else. It’s what houses your drive, spirit, and determination. Be good to it, and it will be good to you.
Now it’s your turn. What are some of those unique things that you like to do to recalibrate your mental health when you’re struggling? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Live Science]