Every year, we promote mental health awareness by designating January as National Mental Wellness Month. Focusing attention on the importance of cultivating and maintaining mental wellness can provide fresh new ideas about how we can do that.
Why is our mental health important?
The concept of wellness refers to the connection between the mind, body and spirit. It’s essential that we nurture each of those aspects — especially our mental wellness. Failing to care for our mental health can limit our ability to thrive, flourish and reach our personal potential.
The mind has a powerful effect on both our physical health and our spiritual connectedness. When we experience anxiety, chronic stress, depression or substance use, it can impact all aspects of self.
6 ways to improve mental wellness
What exactly does the word “wellness” mean, anyway? According to the National Wellness Institute, these are the basic principles that define wellness:
- Wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.
- Wellness is multidimensional and holistic, encompassing lifestyle, mental and spiritual aspects, and the environment.
- Wellness is positive and affirming.
With this understanding of wellness, we can see that achieving mental wellness requires us to review our habits, choices and mental health needs to make some positive changes.
Consider these six ways to improve your mental wellness:
- Cultivate a positive mindset: Positivity is key to achieving mental wellness. To do this, consider limiting your media and news consumption and, instead, immerse yourself in movies and books that bring a smile to your face. Also, keep a gratitude journal to help you remember all you have to be thankful for.
- Exercise to manage stress: Stress is a significant source of mental distress. Thankfully, one of the most effective stress-busters is as simple as getting regular exercise. Physical exertion stimulates mood-boosting endorphins and stress-reducing neurotransmitters, so aim to get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day.
- Make self-care part of your routine: Too often, we are so wrapped up in caring for others or impressing our boss that we ignore our own mental wellness needs. Make an effort to schedule your self-care appointments into your regular routine, with self-care practices like yoga classes, meditation time or a monthly massage.
- Nurture your friendships: Human connection is a vital aspect of mental wellness because our relationships provide us with mutual support and love. Make your relationships a priority by finding time to visit friends and family — in person — on a regular basis.
- Look for ways to give back: Nothing feeds your soul like helping someone in need. When we volunteer our time to help others, the benefits are actually a two-way street. They benefit because you have provided a needed service or items, and you benefit from the joy you’ll feel in your heart knowing you made a difference.
- Seek mental health treatment if needed: Most importantly, if you find your mental health worsening, and none of these measures are effective in reducing symptoms, reach out to a mental health professional who can offer support and guidance.