If it’s not broke don’t fix it…right? No! One of the best methods of mental health recovery is to maintain an environment prone to mental health and mental illness recovery. Staying mentally healthy is a way of life, not something you do when things start to go wrong. Keep reading for your top 10 tips to staying mentally healthy! Remember sometimes, the best treatment is prevention.
For access to some great cutting-edge research aside from the tips below, check out the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Research and Evaluation Team’s publications.
1) Stay Physically Active: the human mind developed in an environment requiring one travels the equivalent of 12 miles per day for sheer survival (and no that doesn’t mean jumping in the car and flooring it!). Recent research has proven that increased physical activity can actually create new brain cells (once thought of as a static number), this explains why nearly every mental healthcare consumer at facilities such as MHCD are strongly encouraged to begin an exercise regiment immediately.
2) Stay Socially Active: we are social creatures, thus one’s support network, be it family or friends, is of immense importance to one’s general well being. It is of course OK to take a few nights to yourself, but don’t stay shut in. Go out, keep your social relations strong.
3) Get a Hobby: find something creative outlet that you want to do just for yourself. Depending on what you chose, a hobby can be a great avenue into sports clubs, night classes at a local college, or staying physically active; plus if its something you enjoy it will be much easier to stick with!
4) Be Self-Reflective: you know those few nights a week I said it was OK to just take a night to yourself? Do it! Read a good book, walk your dog, just think things over. Examine where you are in life, where you want to be, and where you’ve come from. Be honest and complimentary to yourself. You are a brave, amazing person, so act like it 🙂
5) Play: play is actually tremendously important for staying mentally healthy. Devoting time to just having fun can recharge your battery, revitalize your social networks, and reduce stress/anxiety.
6) Maintain a healthy diet: this goes along with staying active. Stay healthy, both in terms of exercise and in terms of eating. Now don’t go crazy here, you don’t want to make yourself miserable by being the food-police, just be conscious of what is going into your body. And allow yourself some leg-room to cheat once a week or so!
7) Set goals: when people are feeling depressed, aimless, or like they are just going through the motions, often times its because they are lacking general direction. Set realistic goals for yourself so you are continuously aiming at something, this is a practice known as positive dissonance (you are constantly reaching for a new goal you set, thus you are always striving further and further even if you accomplish a goal along the way). Importantly though, one must not take this too far and find no joy in overcoming a given sub-goal; this will prove to demoralize the individual. You should celebrate your successes! Each and every one of them, and then push yourself to be even better. Once you reach your goal, set another one to get even further! This will constantly drive you, give you reasons to celebrate as you attain goals, and will increase your general level of content and mental health.
8) Balance free time: this is very important! Don’t let yourself just lay in front of the TV. That is actually conducive to depressive environments. Relax, watch some TV, read a book, go for a walk, spend time on your hobby. Do it all, not just one of them.
9) Examine your locus of control: in the midst of your self reflections, it is important to examine just where your locus of control is. Are you blaming everyone else for things? Or are you taking on all the fault? Nothing is one sided, remember that. Especially if your depression is focused around relationship woes. Think of what you really did, what others really did, accept that its in the past and that the best thing to do now is learn from it and live on to never make that mistake again!
10) Don’t be afraid to seek help: It is a great shame that seeking out mental health professionals in America has become a taboo or secretive endeavor! If you are worried about your mental health, you should be proud of yourself for putting forth an effort to improve yourself. If you are in the general area, I would recommend a recovery-based treatment center such as the Mental Health Center of Denver, or MHCD. The only shame in finding help is not getting help when you can benefit from it!