4 Simple Acts To Boost Your Mental Health by Jennifer Scott
4 Simple Acts To Boost Your Mental Health
by Jennifer Scott
As someone who has always suffered from depression, it wasn’t until I hit my 30s when the light bulb went off and I realized that I
actually, can have more control over my mental health. While it seems obvious, everyone has a different approach to managing their depression. I continued to take the antidepressant prescribed by my doctor, but I decided it was time to grab the reins and make more of an effort to enhance my mental health. I started practicing yoga daily, which helps me center my mind and take a breather from the chaos of life. I made room to make more time for myself, I started learning how to crochet, and I even started running. Together, all of these changes have made a significant impact on my depression. And now, as a life coach, I work to help others realize more fulfilling and rewarding ways to manage depression and anxiety.
When it comes to better mental health, there are some tried and true basics that most any doctor or therapist will recommend. Committing to a better diet and more exercise, or attempting to relax and reduce stress through meditation are common suggestions. However, the first, and most important, step is always working to eliminate the stressors where you can – whether it’s friends, family, or work related. Once you work to remove the stressors, it’s time to turn the focus directly on yourself and find what works best to help you follow the path to better mental health.
Not sure where to start? Here are some ideas to get your gears turning.
Go ahead, eat some chocolate
While a healthy diet contributes to good mental health, nobody said that can’t include a little bit of chocolate. That doesn’t mean binging on Snickers bars – remember, moderation is key.
But research shows that chocolate may be able to improve your mental function and make you happier.
“Some of dark chocolate’s benefits come from resveratrol, an antioxidant (immune system booster) found in red wine, among other products. It’s mental health benefits include the ability to boost brain levels of endorphins (natural opiates) as well as serotonin (a mood-altering chemical on which many antidepressants act),” says Psych Central.
Not only will it taste good to indulge a little, but there’s actual brain science behind the idea that chocolate makes you happy.
I don’t eat many sweets, but I do love good chocolate. I like to keep a few high-quality bars in the house with a high percentage of cocoa solids, typically in the 70% and on up. There’s something so terrifically soothing to me to have a few pieces with an evening cup of tea.
Plant some flowers
Getting out in the sun and doing a little bit of gardening may be one of the best ways to improve your mood and the reason is multi-faceted. Not only is gardening considered moderate exercise, but Vitamin D is actually vital to good mental health. Without enough Vitamin D, the brain is more prone to depression and seasonal affective disorders.
What will really surprise you is that there is an extra special boost you can get from gardening, and it’s all in the dirt. (Yes, the dirt!)
According to studies, “exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs,” according to LiveScience.
That’s quite an amazing combination when you think about it. The gardening gives you exercise, working in the dirt can be mood-enhancing, and bringing beauty to your garden can be incredibly rewarding. It’s truly a threefold way of upping the happiness quotient.
Volunteer Your Time
There is nothing so rewarding as helping another person in need.
Whether you are helping an elderly neighbor with something around the house or volunteering your time with a community organization, giving this bit of yourself provides such a strong mental health boost.
And helping others who are less fortunate always offers a fresh dose of perspective. It allows us to realize that many of our worries are just clutter for the mind.
I find great fulfillment in helping others, and have been working at a local community center for several years. To make someone else’s day or to provide for someone else in need, it’s just an incredible feeling. And I know that in my effort I am also honoring God. “By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)
Learn a new skill
Whether it’s a new sport or game, a new hobby, or a new language, the importance of continuing to learn throughout your adult life
cannot be overstated. Not only does it promote better well-being and increased happiness, but it can stave off cognitive decline. Learning a personal hobby can almost be meditative, and we know meditation works for promoting mental health. And other forms of learning requires social interaction, which has also been shown to help.
I have found such great comfort in learning how to crochet and finding out more about yoga. These hobbies are mine to explore and enjoy, and they have brought me great comfort and calm. They are also activities that I can incorporate into various activities when I need to knock down the chaos quotient.
Learn to say “No”
You may be the type of person who thinks it’s rude to say no –
someone who has a hard time not doing everything for everyone all the time. But if you want to reduce stress, which is important for better mental health, you must learn this simple, though not always easy, task.
“If you don’t learn to say No, your stress levels will rise as you live in disharmony with your true desires and in conflict with the amount of time and energy you truly have. In finding the courage to decline obligations and demands that you know you can’t meet, you also allow people to know the true you and your true wishes,” says Psychology Today.
This is not to say you should skirt your obligations, but rather learn how to prioritize your own time.
Isn’t it just as valuable as someone else’s time?
Instead of saying no to everything all at once, try saying no a couple of times when asked to do something you know is minor. Sometimes the simple act of trying this out can help pave the way for later. And remember, you are saying no because you don’t have the time to give or it’s not an ideal ask. By loading yourself up with obligations, you are inviting more stress and anxiety.
Good mental health is something that can require a bit of effort, and
though it does come naturally for some people, many others have to work a little bit harder to achieve this. Part of this effort is acknowledging the need to shut out negativity and finding ways to bring positivity and light into your life. Through these small personal changes, acts of kindness, and self-care, you can truly find the peace and comfort of better mental health.
I leave you with a parting thought, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
What skills have you incorporated for better mental health?
Jennifer Scott is a lifelong sufferer of anxiety and depression. She is an advocate for opening up about mental health and hopes to share the types of steps and success stories that can help others realize their own power. She enjoys traveling, working with animals, and seeking out new friendships and adventures.
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.com