Poor mental health is prevalent in many homes. More often than not, someone in your own home will be suffering from anxiety and depression in silence. As a doctor at a hospital in Dubai, I’m here to help you find ways to cope with and improve your overall mental health.
Recognizing that you may have a problem is one of the first steps to improving. Many people will be in denial due to social stigmas and taboos. Society will view those with depression as abnormal or broken, but it’s vital to realize that these things do not make us any less of a human being. Here are some healthy ways that you can improve your overall mental health.
1. Take a Break
Many of us forget that we’re allowed to take breaks from things that overwhelm us and cause our mental health to decline. At the moment where you feel stressed and anxious, close your eyes and take deep breaths.
2. Exercise and Stay Physically Active
When you exercise, your body is releasing endorphins which is helpful for relieving stress and improving your mood. Look for ways to add physical activity to your day – it doesn’t have to be a full-blown work out session. Taking the stairs rather than the elevator, going on a brisk walk, maybe even a few push-ups at home; all of these short activities help stimulate the brain and release good chemicals that will boost your mood.
3. Open up to People Around you
It’s important to avoid bottling up your emotions when you’re feeling low. If your feelings stem from insecurity, it’s helpful to seek out your loved ones for reassurance. There is nothing wrong with wanting to know that you are loved and valued and it’s okay to be reminded.
Remember that seeking help from those closest to you is not a sign of weakness, but rather strength. You do not have to feel embarrassed or ashamed when asking for help. It’s what makes us human and having a loved one by your side when you’re low helps you heal.
4. Do Something that Makes you Happy
When we’re depressed, it’s hard to remember that there are certain things that make us happy. We all have hobbies that we enjoy, books we love, and even music or television. Indulging in what we love is a key aspect to improving your mental health. It’s easy to wallow and forget that we used to be happy and okay once upon a time, but if we don’t make an effort to get out of our slump, nothing will ever improve.
5. Maintain a Healthy and Well-Balanced Diet
Keep in mind that what you eat and drink affects your body and mind. You may not be aware of what you eat can affect the way you think and feel and an unhealthy diet can have a significant impact on your mood, mind, your sleeping patterns and even your immune system. Switching to a healthier diet will help improve your overall mood and sleep and will help you feel your best. Foods that are rich in protein are known to increase dopamine levels, as well as norepinephrine and tyrosine which help keep you alert. Vegetables and fruits are packed with nutrients that your body feeds off; Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish and nuts can also restore integrity to the brain cells that are necessary for cognitive function.
6. Have a Regular Sleep Schedule and Routine
Research shows that sleep deprivation has a massive negative effect on your mood. Going to bed at a regular time every day, as well as practicing good habits throughout the day, will help your sleeping patterns improve and thus have an effect on your overall mood. Have a bedtime routine that helps you relax both body and mind and make sure you stay away from caffeinated drinks!
7. Volunteer Where you can and Give Back to the Community
Being helpful to others has a beneficial effect on how you feel and view yourself. Being helpful and kind to others is a great way to build your own self-esteem and helps you enrich your life. Volunteering at shelters or wherever you are able to can also help you boost your mood and self-esteem as you feel good about giving back to the community or those in need.
8. Surround Yourself with Good People
Many people tend to be in denial of toxic behaviour that comes from their own friends or family members. Being around negativity impacts your own mental health in ways some of us aren’t willing to accept. It’s important to always surround yourself with people who make you feel good and happy, rather than those with negative energies that bring you down. Make plans with supportive friends and family who want the best for you and your health.
Prioritize good relationships in your life. Having strong connections with people gives our lives meaning and makes us feel accepted and wanted – reinforcing the notion that we do have people that we can rely on in times of trouble.
9. Have Effective Stress Management Techniques
Being unable to handle stress efficiently will do no favours to your mental health. Yoga and exercise are known for being great stress relievers and can help you get your mind back on track. Don’t indulge in unhealthy habits that may cause temporary relief – this could include smoking, alcohol, or even junk food. You can watch a comedy movie or play with your pet to help reduce your stress and maybe add some humour into your life.
10. Be Grateful for What you Have
When you’re feeling overly anxious, depressed, or stressed out, you are going to be faced with an onslaught of negative thoughts and feelings. A helpful way to combat this is by thinking about the good things in life that you have. It could range from being grateful that you still have a job, that you have friends that love you and support you or maybe even the fact that you have a pet that will love you unconditionally.
You can practice gratitude every day. A good way to do so is by having a journal in which you write down what you’re thankful for every day. Spend around 10 minutes writing about what you are thankful for and aim to list more than 5 things. Your physical wellbeing, family, food, maybe even a new pair of shoes – there are countless things for each of us to be grateful for and it’s important that you write them down to remember so that you can look back on them on the lowest of days.