One of the most important things you can do in your lifetime is taking care of your mental health. Some people need the help of professionals to deal with certain disorders such as depression or anxiety. For the rest of us, simple tricks can make a world of difference in how you perceive events and experience life. In the following article, we will present five tips that can boost your mental health naturally. You can try following all of them at the same time, or you can try them separately. The important thing is to give them a chance and see how they work for you.
1) Set Achievable Goals
When you were young, and people asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, you most likely had a go-to answer. You wanted to be an astronaut, a doctor, or a professional athlete. As you age, there’s often less certainty in your response to that question. However, you remain aspirational and still have high hopes. In your teenage years, you became more practical. Maybe you wanted to become a musician or a wealthy business executive.
The problem is that most people reach adulthood with the same mentality. They have vague answers about what they want to achieve, and they drift through life not knowing what to expect and how to react to the unexpected.
One of the solutions to this problem is to set some ambitious yet achievable goals for yourself, and acknowledge significant milestones along the way. The goals you choose shouldn’t be fixed in a distant and improbable future. They should be realistic, and they should have a due date.
Start by setting short-term or medium-term goals. Be serious about your goals, and try as hard as you can to achieve them. When you do, acknowledge your milestone with a small reward. This helps build positive forward momentum which can be a powerful force in propelling you towards your long-term goals.
2) Spend Time Outside
Human beings did not reach the top of the food chain by sitting in front of a computer. Our ancestors used to work the fields, tend fishing lines, hunt for their meals, and build their own homes (and all without a shiny iPhone).
In developed countries, we take for granted that we don’t have to do those things to survive in today’s world, but we should still spend time outdoors. A recent study has shown that spending 90 minutes outdoors is very good for the mind, and it can decrease the brain activity in the area that’s linked to negative thoughts and stress. Another study has revealed that spending only 5 minutes surrounded by nature can boost your self-esteem. So next time when you’re thinking about wasting 5 minutes, do it outside.
3) Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly benefits your brain almost as much as it does your body. Several studies prove that physical exercise can be more beneficial for the aging brain than mental exercises.
Physical activity can also reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercises such as swimming, jogging, or cycling can increase the amount of “feel good” neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, in the brain. Lastly, exercising regularly can improve your self-esteem, making you more confident and positive about yourself and life as a whole.
4) Ignore The Small Stuff
People tend to be annoyed by minor inconveniences. Ask your grandparents if they would ever get stressed out about not being able to nail the perfect selfie in a poorly lit environment. They may look at you like you’re from outer space. In fact, people are so affected by minor annoyances, they often feel overwhelmed by them. A 2013 study has shown that individuals who responded negatively to minor inconveniences felt more anxious and distressed.
Everyone can be affected by waiting in traffic or having a small fight with a coworker, but you shouldn’t let these insignificant experiences dictate your day. You shouldn’t let these problems be the highlight of your day and you certainly shouldn’t dwell on things out of your control. You should focus on more deserving things, such as spending time with the people you love or engaging in an activity you enjoy. If you’re still having trouble settling the mind, read up on a few relaxation techniques to help you cope.
5) Proper Nutrition for Your Body and Brain
Believe it or not, your brain becomes less effective when you’re feeding it junk food. In fact, the fuel the brain receives directly affects your brain function and consequently, your mood. A diet of deep fried, sugary, and processed foods can lead to an increase in brain fog, poor focus, and reduced mental energy levels.
Your brain is always on, which means it needs a constant supply of fuel through proper nutrition. Natural supplements for brain function can be great sidekicks for a healthy diet, but the food you consume should take priority. Just like a luxury car, when the brain receives high-quality fuel, it can reach peak performance. That doesn’t mean it won’t work when you’re feeding it junk food, but it won’t perform as well.
Diets with a high concentration of refined sugars can be harmful to the brain. Studies have shown a link between these types of foods and impairment in brain function. People who have a diet high in refined sugars can also experience a worsening of mental disorders such as depression.
When you think about the correlation between nutrition and mental health, it makes sense. Serotonin mediates your mood, but 95% of the serotonin produced in your body comes from the gastrointestinal tract. Since something produced in your gut influences how you feel, shouldn’t you assume the food reaching your stomach will also have an influence?
What can we learn
Taking care of your mental health might seem difficult at first, but it can be easy if you follow our suggestions. In a world that feels all of the best solutions come in capsule form, you’d be surprised at the effectiveness of simple all-natural remedies. The tips we presented are not expensive. Some of them won’t even cost you a penny, but following them will improve your mood and your mental health. Give them a try!